Plant & Works Engineering
Sharpening worker protection against cuts and punctures
Published:  25 May, 2022

Protecting a worker’s hands against cut injuries is paramount. Joel Denardis* looks at how cut-resistant engineered yarns are evolving to address today’s challenges.

Hand injuries, including cuts, abrasions, and punctures are a risk faced by workers across many industries. According to the latest EU-OSHA ESENER survey, more than 48% of employers across all sectors listed “accidents with machines or hand tools” among their workplace risks1 . The percentage is even greater in sectors such as construction and utilities, where more than 8 in 10 companies face the risk of accidents with machines and hand tools2 .

Other statistics confirm that hand injuries, especially those due to cuts, continue to be very common. The most recent EUROSTAT figures suggest that “contact with a sharp/pointed or rough/coarse agent” represents the third most common cause of non-fatal workplace injuries in the EU3 . In Germany, nearly one in four workers suffered cut-related injuries in 20194 . “Struck-by injuries,” which includes cuts, are the third most common cause of injuries in the UK, accounting for 10 percent of all injuries in 20215 .

The consequences of hand injuries can be far reaching. The more obvious ones are for the worker who suffers them. A cut may result in anything from a scar to temporary or permanent disability. In 2019, nearly 480,000 workers in Europe went on sick leave for at least four days due to cut-related injuries6 . Cut-related hand injuries can also have legal and financial consequences for the employer. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that, on average, a laceration and a puncture can cost the employer $45,000 and $53,000 respectively7 .

Protective gloves: an essential line of defense against cuts

There are several risk-control measures that health and safety professionals can take to help protect workers’ hands. These range from redesigning the task to eliminate the risk to using engineering or administrative controls8 . 

But, even with all these safety measures in place, some hazards may be unavoidable. This is where personal protective equipment (PPE) comes in.

PPE such as cut-protective gloves is a worker’s last line of defense against hand injuries. But, unless they are selected carefully, they may not guarantee effective protection. Understanding risk and protection levels is crucial, so is choosing gloves that are comfortable to wear.

Choosing the right cut protection

Selecting the appropriate level of cut resistance for the application can be challenging. The latest EN388:2016 standard classifies gloves according to the level of cut protection, from A (the lowest) to F (the highest). The glove’s marking must also include information on abrasion, tear, and puncture resistance (from 1 to 4) and indicate whether the glove is impact resistant (P).

Choosing the wrong cut-resistance level can have dire consequences. If the protection level is too low, the worker may be at greater risk of cuts. If it’s too high, the gloves might stand in the way of dexterity and the worker might be tempted to take them off.

Comfort is key

Choosing the appropriate level of comfort and dexterity for the task is paramount. Especially for workers who wear gloves for prolonged periods, lack of comfort can lead to fatigue. This can not only harm productivity; it is also a major cause of injuries. According to the Health and Safety Executive, work accidents due to fatigue cost the UK up to £240 million per year9 .

As mentioned above, limited comfort and dexterity can also encourage a worker to take their gloves off to perform certain tasks, particularly those requiring precision. As a result, the risk of suffering cut-related injuries increases. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, seven in ten hand injuries are due to workers not wearing protective gloves10. 



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Engineered yarns fit like a glove Innovation in glove materials continues to play a major role in enhancing both cut, thermal, and mechanical resistance as well as comfort. DuPont says its Kevlar engineered yarns are a testament to this.

First invented in 1965, Kevlar’s high-strength material has over the years, had multiple applications, ranging from bicycle tires to racing sails and bulletproof vests. Its unique high tensile strength-to-weight ratio also makes it a perfect candidate for cut-resistant gloves.

The latest engineered yarns combine cut-resistant soft-spun Kevlar materials, high-strength inorganic yarns, and elastic stretch-core yarns. This way, it is possible to cover multiple levels of cut resistance without compromising on comfort and dexterity. Kevlar yarns are also heat resistant in line with the latest EN407:2020 standard. This feature is key to providing effective multi-hazard protection across a range of industrial applications.

The use of Kevlar engineered yarns helps enable manufacturers to increase the level of cut protection without significantly increasing weight and thickness. The material is also designed to deliver enhanced breathability. These characteristics contribute to greater comfort and dexterity across a range of applications, from automotive to manufacturing and utilities.

Hand injuries continue to present a significant risk to workers across industries. Cut-resistant gloves are an essential line of defense against cuts, abrasions, and punctures. Selecting the appropriate level of protection for the task while ensuring the gloves are comfortable to wear is vital. This is key to ensuring worker uptake while optimizing safety in the workplace.


*Joel Denardis is Global Marketing Manager, DuPont Kevlar Industrials