OBJECTIVES: A method of evaluating the effectiveness of gloves in reducing the hazards of hand-transmitted vibration is proposed. METHOD: The glove isolation effectiveness was calculated from: (a) the measured transmissibility of a glove, (b) the vibration spectrum on the handle of a specific tool (or class of tools), and (c) the frequency weighting indicating the degree to which different frequencies of vibration cause injury. With previously reported tool vibration spectra and glove transmissibilities (from 10-1000 Hz), the method was used to test 10 gloves with 20 different powered tools. RESULTS: The frequency weighting for hand-transmitted vibration advocated in British standard 6842 (1987) and international standard 5349 (1986) greatly influences the apparent isolation effectiveness of gloves. With the frequency weighting, the gloves had little effect on the transmission of vibration to the hand from most of the tools. Only for two or three tools (those dominated by high frequency vibration) did any glove provide useful attenuation. Without the frequency weighting, some gloves showed useful attenuation of the vibration on most powered tools. CONCLUSIONS: In view of the uncertain effect of the vibration frequency in the causation of disorders from hand-transmitted vibration, it is provisionally suggested that the wearing of a glove by the user of a particular vibratory tool could be encouraged if the glove reduces the transmission of vibration when it is evaluated without the frequency weighting and does not increase the vibration when it is evaluated with the frequency weighting. A current international standard for the measurement and evaluation of the vibration transmitted by gloves can classify a glove as an antivibration glove when it provides no useful attenuation of vibration, whereas a glove providing useful attenuation of vibration on a specific tool can fail the test.
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