The best electrical lineman work gloves provide the necessary level of shock and cut protection, while also enhancing user comfort, dexterity and overall productivity. Here's what leading glove manufacturers have to offer.
With all of their lifting, climbing, and working around electricity, power line workers need the proper personal protective equipment from head to toe. That includes the hands—a power line worker's most valuable tools.
When working directly with energized powerlines, a rubber insulating glove that meets the ASTM D120 standard is required. However, these gloves can be a bit clumsy and uncomfortable. That is why linemen often wear a liner glove underneath, typically made of cotton, wool, or fleece. Then, for added protection and gripping ability, a protective glove on the outside of the rubber glove is also mandated. Linemen should ensure that their protector glove meets the relevant ASTM standard based on the materials their glove is made of.
We’ll further discuss the standard three-layer lineman’s glove system a bit later.
But now we must also touch on the fact that a lineman sometimes just needs a really good work glove. A lot of demanding everyday tasks don’t present the risk of shock. In those applications, a well-designed work glove provides the necessary cut and impact protection, while also enhancing user comfort, dexterity, grip, and overall productivity.
“Lineworkers face a variety of hazards in all types of weather conditions,” says Max Hackett, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Youngstown Glove Company. “The hazards from work itself are most often cuts and lacerations from the knife work performed. Punctures are a threat from wood poles, wiring, and the numerous surfaces line workers come into contact with. Add to this some difficult weather elements, from extreme heat and dryness to extreme cold and wetness.”
So when it comes to the best electrical lineman work gloves for a variety of lineman tasks, here are 7 popular options from the utility industry’s leading glove manufacturers.
1. Youngstown Glove’s FR Ground Glove provides line workers with the Level A4 cut and Level 5 puncture resistance they need. This glove is also flame-resistant and arc-rated. To enhance comfort and dexterity, an ergonomic 3D pattern is incorporated. High-quality goatskin material is light and flexible, and a cut-resistant liner is made with 100% Kevlar fiber by DuPont.
2. Cementex Products is a leading manufacturer of rubber-insulating gloves that meet the ASTM D120 standard. Made of natural rubber, these gloves provide the required dielectric properties, while also providing the strength, durability, and flexibility linemen need. To reduce hand fatigue and improve dexterity, the gloves are anatomically shaped. To further improve user comfort, the gloves come with a rolled cuff to contain perspiration drips.
3. Kunz USA’s High-Voltage Protector Gloves are made of buckskin leather that’s processed to optimize stretch, resulting in improved fit and function. This glove also features a “gunn cut” pattern, which minimizes seams for increased durability and comfort. An adjustable cinch strap helps keep out the elements. Meets the ASTM F696 standard for mechanical protection.
4. Salisbury Lineman’s Mittens provide the same voltage protection as a rubber isolating glove, but help keep a lineman’s hands warmer in really cold temperatures. Plus, the three-finger design enables more precise hand movement than a typical mitten allows.
5. Klein Tools’ Lineman Work Glove features soft grain leather construction, reinforced leather palm and finger patches, and double-row padded knuckles for enhanced durability. The glove also features 4-inch leather and Neoprene cuffs with side vents for protection from the elements.
6. Portwest’s Arc Grip Glove is designed to provide a high level of protection against arc flash burns and cuts. Flame-resistant properties are built into the liner and palm. The 13-gauge liner also provides excellent cut protection, along with increased dexterity and hand movement. The neoprene-coated palm enhances gripping ability.
7. ArcGuard’s Class 2 Rubber Voltage Glove Kit makes it easy for linemen to get the comfort, protection, and performance they need while working with energized lines. The kit includes a pair of newly tested, black rubber insulating gloves, a pair of 12-inch leather protector gloves, a pair of knit gloves to use as liners, and a handy carrying bag.
A closer look at rubber insulating gloves
Power line workers need gloves that enable them to safely work around electricity. Since rubber is not a conductor of electricity, rubber-based gloves are a logical solution. That said, not all rubber gloves are created equally.
The ASTM develops technical standards for a wide range of products, including work gloves. The standard known as ASTM D120 defines the requirements for rubber insulating gloves. There are six glove classes based on the level of voltage protection. To select the correct class, power line workers must understand the level of voltage they will be working with.
- Class 00 – 500 AC
- Class 0 – 1,000 AC
- Class 1 – 7,500 AC
- Class 2 – 17,000 AC
- Class 3 – 26,500 AC
- Class 4 – 36,000 AC
In addition to class ratings, ASTM also defines two "types" of rubber insulating gloves:
- Type 1 – does not provide ozone protection
- Type 2 – provides ozone protection
Rubber insulating gloves must remain in excellent condition to provide the necessary level of electrical protection. To that end, a Type 2 glove is manufactured to resist the cracking that can result from ongoing ozone exposure. Thus, Type 2 gloves are ideal in locations where ozone levels are higher.
Enhance comfort by adding a liner
Power line workers often like to add a liner glove beneath a rubber insulating glove. This makes a rubber insulating glove more comfortable to wear, while also adding an extra layer of warmth in cold weather.
Liner gloves are typically made of either cotton, wool, or fleece material. Power line workers are also given a choice of cuffs: hemmed or knit wrist.
Please note that the addition of a liner glove will likely require a rubber insulating glove that is slightly larger than if worn directly over the hand.
Protectors that balance safety and productivity
Leather protectors must meet the performance standard outlined in ASTM F696. They are typically made of cowhide, goatskin, or buckskin. Each type has its advantages:
- Cowhide – handles heat well and is ideal for heavy wear
- Goatskin – lightweight, supple, and flexible
- Buckskin – supple and long-lasting, ideal for cold and wet environments
As of 2021, protector gloves can also be made of certain non-leather materials. These gloves must meet the performance standard outlined in ASTM F3258-21.
Youngstown Glove Company has offered a complete line of leather protectors for years. But given the new ASTM standard, Youngstown has developed a leather protector glove that also incorporates non-leather materials. The glove is appropriately named the Expertex Hybrid Protector. The top of the hand features a synthetic fiber lined with Kevlar, enabling the glove to achieve Level A5 cut resistance.
“Unlined leather by itself typically doesn’t even reach cut level A1,” says Max Hackett of Youngstown Glove. “When you combine Kevlar with the right synthetic fibers, you get a combined material that is lighter in weight than leather by itself but has the added benefit of A3 or higher cut resistance along with flame resistance. So you get a lighter-weight material that is more consistent than a natural hide, while also being more protective and dexterous.”
Youngstown’s Expertex Hybrid Protector is scheduled for release in June 2023. Utility pros will also be able to check it out at the upcoming Utility Expo being held September 26-28, 2023 in Louisville, KY.
Regardless of the materials they are made of, the best protector gloves also incorporate design features to enhance line worker productivity.
"Every worker wants dexterity and comfort, but durability and protection can sometimes fight against that,” Hackett says. “You must strike the right balance in the design. For instance, you can add some reinforcement in a glove which it will make the glove more durable. But you must do that in a way that will not reduce dexterity or comfort.”
The design pattern is another thing that sets the best protector gloves apart from the rest.
"Many gloves utilize a traditional two-dimensional pattern called a gunn cut," Hackett explains. "This relatively flat pattern can result in an awkward fit over rubber gloves, which are three-dimensional and designed to match the curvature of the hand. That is why we (Youngstown Glove) use a three-dimensional pattern for our protector gloves. This pattern is specifically designed to fit perfectly over a rubber glove with less bulk. That results in improved dexterity and reduced hand fatigue."
You always get what you pay for
The best lineman work gloves might cost a bit more than the average glove. But like with any other product, you get what you pay for. In the utility industry, it is no longer about searching for the cheapest glove you can find that is still compliant. Now it's about finding a compliant glove that delivers everything a hardworking lineman wants and deserves: the perfect balance of safety, durability, comfort, and dexterity.
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