In order for materials employed in chemical protective gloves to be type-tested and their performance classified, penetration by chemicals at molecular level (permeation) is measured in the laboratory at a test temperature of 23 °C in accordance with European standard EN 374. Under workplace conditions, however, body heat raises the temperature of the glove material by around 10 °C. At this elevated temperature, experience has shown that the permeation time of the glove by chemicals may be reduced to less than half.
In order for the test in the standard to be brought more closely into line with practical conditions, investigations were conducted into whether increasing the test temperature from 23 °C to 33 °C alone is sufficient to ensure an adequately reliable estimation of the gloves' duration of wear for the workplace.
This led to development of a system for direct measurement of the permeation time of substances in the glove during wear ("in situ") at the workplace. (Refer also to Project BGIA 3095 "Test method for in-situ measurement of permeation by chemical substances of chemical gloves".) In the course of this follow-on project, studies involving the in-situ method were conducted at selected workplaces in member companies of the BGETE, the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the energy, textile and electrical sectors. The objective was to determine whether permeation times measured by means of the glove standard are consistent with those measured at the workplace on identical glove types and materials by means of the in-situ test method.
In the course of this project, the in-situ test method was first trialled systematically on the test person under test laboratory conditions and varying boundary conditions (glove type, solvent type, work method, level of glove wetting). In a subsequent phase performed in conjunction with the BGETE, it was then applied at actual workplaces in two member companies at which the employees wear chemical protective gloves to prevent contact with organic solvents harmful to the skin. The results obtained from workplace measurements were to be compared with those from laboratory tests conducted on an identical glove type in accordance with the standard referred to above.
The measurements obtained at the workplaces concerned show that compared to laboratory measurement at 33 °C, the in-situ method yields permeation times for organic solvents which are in all cases higher, in some cases substantially so. The studies performed to date thus indicate that estimation of the duration of wear based upon the permeation time measured at the elevated temperature in the laboratory may be regarded as adequately reliable. Efforts should be made to revise European standards in order to reflect this.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte GesundheitsgefahrenCatchwords:
Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Prüfverfahren, Chemische ArbeitsstoffeDescription, key words:
hand protection, chemical protective gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE), permeation, measurement of breakthrough, maximum duration of wear, chemical agents, solvents, measurement method