Though heat protection on the job may seem fairly basic, burns in the workplace account for a considerable proportion of all burns despite numerous safety regulations. That’s why a glove rated with a Contact Heat score is important – otherwise, even a gloved hand could suffer a workplace burn. And burns are no joke.
In one report, 20% of all cases of thermal burns in admitted patients occurred at work, with another reporting that 42% of all work-related injuries were burns.
If you needed a reminder to wear your heat-protectant gloves, this is it. And make sure those gloves have the appropriate Contact Heat score. But what exactly does a Contact Heat score mean? And what do you need to know about it?
Let’s talk about all things Contact Heat
First, we need to mention standards as it pertains to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
OSHA employer responsibilities
Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that "is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees." This includes heat-related hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.
NIOSH’s recommended heat standard
NIOSH has published criteria for a recommended standard for occupational heat stress, including recommendations for employers about how to prevent heat-related illnesses.
There are also specific states in the US that require additional measures to be taken. You can read about them here.
All this to say – it’s up to the safety manager to determine the best PPE needed per application, and the testing methods below will help.
PPE standards: EN 407 and ASTM F1060
Next, let’s dive into the specific standards/tests that PPE manufacturers must use. Any hand and arm protection that protects against thermal risk in the workplace is measured by a Contact Heat score.
There are two main standards to help determine a Contact Heat score: EN 407 and ASTM F1060.
Though both standards utilize the same test and apparatus, requiring a hot plate, a surface plate, a temperature sensor, a recorder, and a calibrator (see Fig. 1 below), the testing methods and scores are different.
But just how different and why does it matter?
EN407:2020 Contact Heat
EN407 is recognized as an international standard for how well gloves protect from heat and/or flame (aka ‘thermal risk’). The standard was developed in Europe, which explains the use of Celsius over Fahrenheit.
EN407 is made up of six unique glove tests, each graded on a scale of zero to four, and one of them is contact heat resistance.
Tests can be performed on any area of the glove that is intended to be exposed to contact heat (if explicitly stated on packaging). Samples are placed on four plates heated from 100°C to 500°C.
Performance is determined by how long it takes the temperature on the side opposite the sample to rise 10°C. This is known as the threshold time. Gloves need to withstand the increasing temperature of maximum 10°C for at least 15 seconds for a pass at a given level.
Main things to know about this test:
- Measures time to 2nd-degree burn only
- Four levels of performance
- Requires minimum 15-second resistance at X temperature to 2nd-degree burn
- Results based on the lowest time achieved
- Three samples are tests
ASTM F1060 Contact Heat
Heat protection in gloves is mandated by ANSI/ISEA 105, which is the North American classification and testing of hand protection for specific performance properties related to mechanical protection (cut, puncture, and abrasion resistance), chemical protection (permeation and degradation resistance), heat protection (ignition, heat degradation, and conductive heat resistance), vibration resistance, and dexterity.
ANSI/ISEA is the overarching governing body and ASTM is a standards organization that works more or less as a sub-branch of ANSI to better define standards and testing for PPE.
ASTM F1060-08 is the test method used to test conductive heat resistance in gloves and PPE. Tests can be performed on any area of the glove that is intended to be exposed to contact heat (if explicitly stated on packaging). Samples are placed on four plates heated from 100°C to 500°C.
The ANSI test requires a minimum four-second threshold for “time to pain”, i.e., the time to feeling any heat.
In other words, each level is the maximum temperature where you have at least 15 seconds before you get a second-degree burn and at least 4 seconds of warning for you to react to the pain and move away from the heat source.
Main things to know about this test:
- Uses the same apparatus as EN407:2020
- Measures resistance to both time to 2nd-degree burn and time to pain
- Four-second requirement for pain
- 15-second requirement for burn
- Five performance levels
- Results based on average time achieved
- Five samples tested
Key takeaways on Contact Heat standards
- ASTM test is tougher to pass – ASTM is more stringent for two reasons: one, more samples are tested that must all perform relatively the same, and two, there are two different requirements needed to pass. For example, gloves that pass the “time to burn” requirement but failed the “time to pain” requirement means they would have passed the EN equivalent if the target temperatures were the same between tests. By setting the bar higher, gloves that pass ASTM deliver higher expectations. If it is easier to pass a test, there is less security in the performance.
- EN tests higher temperature (500°C) – Useful for people with higher temperature concerns.
- ASTM tests lower temperature (80°C) – Important for those not working with high temperatures but know there is a slight risk.
- Average time vs lowest time scoring – Average time shows how the glove performs on average, a low score can disqualify an adequate glove because of one outlier test result.
- EN is more universally used – Because EN407 is accepted overseas, it’s the more prominent standard; whereas ANSI is only an American standard and is hardly ever cited in the EU, South America, and Asia. For example, if you’re an EU-based company that includes several satellite locations, EN standards may be more appropriate to reference in order to have a uniform safety culture.
- On each, if the glove material melts or a hole is formed, the glove fails the test – Good to know for gloves intended to be used more than once.
What this means for glove choice
A key thing to note is that these tests are done in a laboratory and do not reference real-life applications, which is why it's critical to perform in-application trials before fully implementing a new product.
Factors including size, weight, and shape of object, if the object/conditions are dry or wet, and if you intend to handle the hot object for extended periods of time all come into play for how a glove will protect against contact heat. And heat resistance will diminish over time.
When choosing a glove, it’s best to find a glove designed with durability and performance in mind. Oftentimes, the higher the contact heat rating, the thicker the glove, meaning lower glove dexterity. When it comes to glove materials, some can deal with heat better. For example, leather, neoprene, cotton, and aramid (Kevlar) perform great, whereas synthetic leather, HPPE, and polyester are not recommended.
HexArmor® can help
Understanding the difference in standards ultimately helps you decide which glove is right for your application - and we are here to help. Especially when working with extreme heat, it’s good to know how gloves stack up against both the EN 407 and ASTM F1060 safety standards so you can make an educated decision on your heat-resistant gloves.
HexArmor® has several gloves to help you battle not only contact heat hazards but cuts, punctures, abrasion, and more – and all are incredibly dexterous, long-lasting, and comfortable.
Let us know if you need help or if you're ready to start a trial – our Solution Specialists are ready to work with you. Call 1-877-MY ARMOR or send us a message.
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