High-Tech Design

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Irwin's ArmorDex glove has a high cuff for added wrist protection.

The materials that go into the new work gloves are impressive, but they wouldn't amount to anything without the science manufacturers use to design the gloves. There are teams of engineers working around the world in labs so high-tech, they'd make the CSI television characters green with envy.

The engineers study how the human hand is shaped and how it works. They use computer models to figure out just where a glove needs to flex and where it needs to be strong. And they do extensive field-testing. Take Milwaukee's Jobsite Armor Demolition Work Glove for example. This is a glove that's designed for use in the most extreme conditions. So after all the work in the lab, the folks at Milwaukee wanted to see if they had it right. They provided the Demolition Work Glove to firefighters at the Illinois Fire Service Institute at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The firefighters provided a lot of feedback on the Demolition Glove, which Milwaukee used to refine and improve the design. The result is impressive–it's one serious pair of gloves!

Vibration. Work gloves used to be just about protecting your hands from cuts and scrapes, but over time we've learned that there are a whole lot worse things that can happen to you on the jobsite. Vibration from power tools can do serious damage to your hands and forearms over time. In the old days, they used to call the resulting condition VWF or Vibration White Finger. They called it White Finger because your fingers would turn white and swell if they got cold, and then they'd go red and feel like pins and needles when they warmed up again.

There are a lot more nasty symptoms, and today they roll them all into a general diagnosis called HAVS or Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. HAVS can be potentially disabling. Too much vibration over time can result in permanent nerve damage. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and loss of sensitivity. It can get so bad you can lose the ability to pick up small objects. The muscles in your hands lose their strength, but interestingly enough retain their mass. And the pain, tingling, and numbness in the arms, wrists, and hands can make it very hard to sleep.

A lot of the manufacturers today have their roots in safety equipment, and some companies have been designing anti-vibration gloves for years. Ergodyne's ProFlex glove line, for example, includes ANSI/ISO-certified anti-vibration gloves made with polymer-injected cushions in the palm, fingers, and thumb to lessen the impact of vibration on your hands.

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Ergodyne's ProFlex 840 glove has rubberized impact protection on the fingers.

If you make your living working with tools that rattle your bones, you really should look into anti-vibration gloves. It will make using power tools more comfortable, and it's an investment in your health and your ability to earn a living in the future.