Why should chemical protective gloves be used?

Coating of a CD-ROM

Practical work involving chemical protective gloves
Source: IFA

Human skin offers natural protection against external influences. This protection is unfortunately often inadequate. The human body therefore sometimes needs clothing which not only keeps it warm, but also protects it against exposure to hazardous substances. Such substances range from moisture to chemicals with a variety of properties.

Chemical exposure is not always obvious, as it is in the case of an acute caustic burn; it may also begin insidiously with a skin irritation, and progress through sensitizing to severe skin damage. Even substances that are regarded subjectively as harmless, such as cleaning agents, may lead to skin problems following sustained or repeated contact with the skin. In both occupational and domestic use, the hands in particular must therefore be protected during activities involving contact with chemical substances. Where skin-care or barrier products do not provide the skin with adequate protection, chemical protective gloves must be worn. In practice, however, the gloves present users with a problem:

Chemical protective gloves do not provide protection against all chemicals.

Chemical protective gloves are able to protect the skin only when they are proof against the chemical (indicated by the "waterproof glove" pictogram, see marking). For this purpose, they must above all be:

  • Resistant to the chemical (the chemical must not destroy the material)
  • Resist permeation

A glove material's resistance to permeation is determined not only by its properties, but also by its thickness. The thickness of chemical protective glove materials is however subject to practical limits: if gloves are too thick, the resulting limited flexibility hinders work. It is not therefore sufficient for the user simply to wear any glove; for certain tasks involving chemicals, comprehensive information is required on the suitability of the gloves and their limits of use.

A business placing a hazardous substance on the market is obliged to state suitable chemical protective gloves on the material safety data sheet; however, the information provided is often not satisfactory or comprehensible to the user.

The following pages provide users in the field with assistance in selecting chemical protective gloves and with information on their marking and the standards governing them. The FAQ provides tips for use in practice, and a facility for asking questions. A list of links is provided for further and more detailed information.

Latest news

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  • "Chemikalienschutzhand-
    schuhe". Information on chemical protective gloves, DGUV Information 212-008 (to date: BGI/GUV-I 868E), June 2009). Published by: Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, Sankt Augustin 2009
  • "Benutzung von Schutzhandschuhen". Rule on the use of protective gloves, DGUV Regel 112-195 (to date: BGR 195)), 4/1994 edition (current) 10/2007. Published by: Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (DGUV), Sankt Augustin 2007 (in German)
  • TRGS 401: Technische Regel für Gefahrstoffe: Gefährdung durch Hautkontakt – Ermittlung, Beurteilung, Maßnahmen (technical rule for hazardous substances: hazards associated with skin contact – identification, evaluation, measures). June 2008 issue, corrected: GMBl. (2010) Nos. 5-6, p. 111


Glossary of terms (PDF, 22 kB) used on this page


Christoph Thelen

Hazardous substances: handling, protective measures

Tel: +49 30 13001 3330
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001