IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Glove resistance to needle puncture - Development of a test method


Injuries from medical needle pricks are one type of hazard faced by an increasing number of workers. An ultimate complement to other risk control strategies, particularly engineering techniques and administrative measures, is effective protective clothing against medical needle pricks, mainly, protective gloves. The study was carried out following joint requests to identify protective gloves adapted to the risk of pricks by medical needles. These requests originated from two sector-based associations, APSAM (municipal affairs) and APSSAP (provincial affairs), and from three professional milieus facing the problem of medical needle pricks, namely police officers, peace officers in correctional services, and blue collar workers.

In fact, due to the lack of standardized test methods for characterizing the resistance of gloves to needle pricks, the most effective equipment cannot be identified. The NIJ (National Institute of Justice), which issues recommendations on protective gloves for peace officers in correctional services and police officers in the United States, as well as Committee F-23 of the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), are making this issue one of their priorities. The study's objective was to pursue the work on puncture resistance initiated in a previous project and to develop a test method for characterizing the resistance to medical needle pricks. In addition, preliminary work was undertaken to evaluate prick resistance by considering the effect of the gloved hand. Finally, the effect of wearing the most prick-resistant gloves on dexterity, tactile sensitivity and comfort was analyzed with the professional groups considered in this study. These results will be the subject of another research report.

The work confirmed that the phenomenon of medical needle pricks is different from the phenomenon of puncture by standardized probes, regarding the rupture mechanisms as well as the measured levels of force. While puncture by standardized probes is controlled by the material's maximum deformation rate, pricking by medical needles includes a major contribution from cutting and friction due to the presence of a cutting edge at the tip of the medical needle. The impact of the needle's characteristics (dimensional tolerance, wear, diameter, angle of the point, and number of facets), the properties of the sample (thickness, type and hardness of the material), and the experimental conditions (speed of movement of the probe, angle of attack, temperature, humidity) on the force measuring the medical needle prick resistance was studied with a series of material models representative of different types of protective gloves (elastomers, coated textiles, SuperFabric® and TurtleSkin®).

From these different results, a method for measuring the resistance of glove materials to medical needle pricks was developed. It was used to evaluate the needle prick resistance of a series of commercially available protective gloves. This report includes recommendations for the best gloves in relation to the type of use.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
Research Project: 0099-4900
Online since: November 22, 2011
Format: Text