There are many reasons your employees might wear the wrong size safety gloves. It’s possible they are ill-informed about the size they should be wearing. Perhaps they wrongly think they need a bigger size for comfort, they’re not aware other size options are available or they don’t think it matters. It does. And here’s why.

According to a Health and Safety Executive report, of the £252 million annual costs of PPE-related accidents, hand/arm protection (£75 million) is among the most significant. Organisations that don’t enforce the use of PPE contribute to a significant proportion of that cost, but it’s also likely that misuse of PPE, including poorly fitted PPE, specifically hand protection, can share the blame.

When employees wear the wrong size, it has many implications. Dexterity and comfort is impacted, the life-span of the glove is potentially reduced, and a stream of problems and hazards can ensue. Preserving the lifespan of a glove is vital. When gloves wear out faster than expected, productivity is lost and costs soar while the business continuously forks out for new supplies earlier than necessary. Gloves that wear out quickly or unexpectedly are also a hazard. A damaged glove is a risk, not just to its wearer but to the product the wearer is working with.

Too large

A glove that’s too large will often result in fingertips that extend further than the wearer’s fingers, leaving excess material that can snag in equipment. This is potentially dangerous for the wearer, whose gloves may jam machinery or break off altogether, exposing their hand to chemicals or infectious agents. Meanwhile, debris from the glove falls into the product, causing an expensive and worrying contamination issue.

Gloves that are too large also compromise dexterity and the wearer’s ability to do his or her job. It’s more difficult for a wearer to grip an item properly and gloves can slip off entirely. Extra movement in the glove forces the user to apply more pressure, increasing the chances of hand strain and injury. And it the glove is far too big, it could simply fall off.

Too small

A glove that’s too small is probably uncomfortable and will restrict movement for the wearer, who may at some point be tempted to remove the glove to give his or her hands a break. This significantly increases the risk of injury or contamination. A tight glove is also known to cut off circulation which can impact movement of the hand. It can also unnecessarily increase skin perspiration which can exacerbate the risk of dermatological issues and is more likely to lead to injuries or stretch and tear. Again, this reduces the lifespan of the glove significantly, puts the wearer in danger, and causes contamination issues with the product.

How to find your size

There are a variety of sizing guides and instructions available, but this advice from Reliable Plant magazine offers a simple guide to measuring the hand. It suggests using a flexible measuring tape to measure around the hand, above the thumb and below the fingers. The diameter of the hand rounded to the nearest half-inch is numerically equal to the worker's average glove size. For workers with long, slim fingers or those with short, stubby fingers, gloves that are one-half or even a full size larger or smaller than the measured hand size may fit more comfortably.

Health and Safety Executive hand measuring guide

Measuring Length
Measure from the bottom edge of palm to the tip of your middle finger to determine your 'finger length' size.

Measuring Width
Wrap a measuring tape around your dominant hand just below knuckles, excluding your thumb, and make a fist. This measurement is your 'hand width' glove size.



Length Width EU Size US Size
160 mm 152 - 178 mm EU - 6 XS
171 mm 178 - 203 mm EU - 7 S
182 mm 203 - 229 mm EU - 8 M
192 mm 229 - 254 mm EU - 9 L
204 mm 254 - 279 mm EU - 10 XL
215 plus mm 279 plus mm EU - 11 XXL

Hand protection programme

Anchor Safety’s Hand Protection Programme offers expert advice on all aspects of hand protection, which is based on professional workplace assessments and trials. As part of this programme, we provide measuring charts and operator leaflets to help you identify the right size glove for every worker. And we can help you achieve a consistent supply of gloves to ensure no employee has to wear the wrong size again.

For more information about our Hand Protection Programme, please contact us on 0800 328 5028.