“How often should I test my voltage rated gloves?”
This is a question that frequently comes up during our electrical safety training classes. Misinterpreting the rules requiring dielectric testing of electrical insulating gloves and the corresponding expiration dates can be easy to do. Using article 130.7(C)(7) of the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E as a reference, we hope to add some clarity to this commonly misunderstood safety requirement.
The 6-Month Rule
Consider this example:
- The glove in this picture passed testing on March 19, 2015.
- Let’s say that the glove was issued into service on April 19, 2015.
- Regardless of the issue date, the glove expires on September 19, 2015
Exception to the Rule
Consider this example:
- You receive new gloves with a test date of January 1.
- The gloves are issued to a qualified worker on February 1.
- The gloves will expire and require testing on August 1.
- If the gloves are not issued, they will expire on December 31 and will require testing.
Additional Glove Safety Information
- Gloves must be must also be visually inspected and air tested for any possible defects such as cuts, holes, tears, embedded objects before each day’s use and whenever there is a reason to believe they may have been damaged. Best practice is to inspect PPE and air test the gloves before each use.
- OSHA 1910.137(b)(2)(ii) Insulating equipment shall be inspected for damage before each day’s use and immediately following any incident that can reasonably be suspected of having caused damage. Insulating gloves shall be given an air test, along with the inspection.
- Gloves used without leather protectors must be removed from service and dielectrically tested before they can be used again – “single use gloves”
- Gloves must be worn if employees are working inside the restricted approach distance to exposed energized conductors or circuit parts. The restricted approach distance to 480-volts is one foot.
- OSHA 1910.137(b)(2)(viii) Electrical protective equipment shall be subjected to periodic electrical tests. Test voltages and the maximum intervals between tests shall be in accordance with Table I-5 and Table I-6.
OSHA 1910.137 Table I-6. – Rubber Insulating Equipment Test Intervals Rubber insulating gloves [shall be voltage tested] Before first issue and every 6 months thereafter (If the insulating equipment has been electrically tested but not issued for service, it may not be placed into service unless it has been electrically tested within the previous 12 months.)
Q. Can I just use the rubber glove only, and not buy the leather part?
A. A leather protective glove should always be worn over rubber insulating gloves to provide the needed mechanical protection against cuts, abrasions, and punctures.
Q. Do I need to send my gloves off for voltage testing if I don’t use the electrical safety gloves very often and visually see no damage?
A. Yes, retesting is still needed to verify the integrity of the material and to ensure electrical safety is maintained for the user.
Q. If I find a hole, can I just “patch it”… like a tire inner tube?
A. No. This would not comply with ASTM or OSHA standards for electrical protective gloves, and it would not pass accredited laboratory testing
Q. How do I make sure I get the right glove size?
A. Gloves are available in sizes from 7 to 12, including half sizes. To determine glove size, measure the circumference of the hand around the palm. Gloves that are too big reduce dexterity and workers will find them difficult to work in. One size does not fit all. The following picture is from a good Grainger article describing the measurement process:
|Class||Max AC Use Voltage||AC Retest Voltage||Maximum DC Use Voltage (average)||DC Retest Voltage (average)||Color of Label|
OSHA 1910.137 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards – Personal Protective Equipment – Electrical protective devices
NFPA 70E 2021 – Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
ASTM D 120 – 09 – Standard Specification for Rubber Insulating Gloves
ASTM F 1236 – 96 (2012) – Standard Guide for Visual Inspection of Electrical Protective Rubber Products
ASTM F 696 – 06 – Standard Specification for Leather Protectors for Rubber Insulating Gloves and Mittens