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How to pick the best work gloves for package handling jobs

box handling gloves article.jpg

This guide will cover the following information:

  • Why wear gloves? Protect and preserve hands.

  • Factors to consider when selecting gloves.

  • Suggested gloves for package handling indoors/during summer.

  • Suggested gloves for package handling during winter/inside refrigerators.

Why would anybody want to use work gloves for box and other package handling?

There are multiple hazards associated with bulk package handling, and you can better protect your hands by wearing proper work gloves:

  • Cardboard absorbs moisture from your hands, resulting in dryness and cracking of skin if you deal with a large volume of boxes

  • Boxes may be dirty and you never know how bad the stuff on them is - it could be somebody's blood, snot, mouse feces, leaked chemicals, or other hazardous substances that you don't want touching your hands

  • Stiff cardboard edges can cut your hands if you aren't careful, and then your blood would be exposed to the stuff described in the point above

  • There could be small protrusions from the packages or packages might have embedded metal parts (like small screws) that can puncture skin if you grab over them

In addition to hazards, there are also convenience factors that can be contributed to by proper work gloves:

  • Good grip on smooth box surfaces

  • Keep hands clean, or cleaner

  • Make your significant other happier by having softer hands

Factors you need to consider when picking the right work gloves for your package handling tasks

The basic and rather obvious points to consider are:

  • What type of surfaces are you gripping? Do you only handle cardboard packages, or do you need to handle many wooden carts or other abrasive objects? If you have a mix of materials and can't predict what you'll be handling, then you'd be better off with stronger gloves that may be overkill for boxes, but would withstand dealing with wood cartons.

  • Do you need to be able to operate any kind of computer devices frequently? Having thick padded gloves would likely prevent you from using handheld computers like scanners or DIAD boards. You will need great dexterity and sensitivity if you need to press small buttons. You'd also need touchscreen ability if you have to deal with touchscreens - there are gloves that can accommodate that.

  • How many packages do you have to handle per shift? This might affect whether you require heavier or lighter gloves.

  • What other operations do you need to be able to do besides handling boxes? Do you need to also drive a truck or forklift? Do you need to open or tape boxes?

  • How hot or cold does it get in your facility or environment? If you work outdoors and you have seasons (winter & summer) where you live, then you'd likely need to get different sets of gloves for different seasons. But also you have consider the discomfort of wearing gloves when it is hot - sometimes light cheap gloves might be the preferred choice for their ventilation ability, even if they don't last long.

Then there are a few things to consider that are frequently overlooked:

  • Do you need to be able to reach into your pockets without removing your gloves? Only the most form-fitting, thinner gloves would allow that.Are you willing to wash your gloves if they start to smell before they are worn out? If your gloves last a long time, you don't wash them, and then throw them away when they get stinky - maybe you would benefit from getting lighter and cheaper gloves.

  • Do you need padding for your gloves? Some people can develop numbness and pain when handling heavy and hard objects - having thicker gloves with some padding can help relieve stress points on hands.

Glove selection for indoor/summer work

Here are some suggested glove styles for various package/box handling job types in warm or hot environments. All of these gloves would also allow you to work with tools or equipment - operate a forklift, tape gun, large conveyor controls, etc. The smooth nitrile palm gloves are also possibly going to work with your touchscreen device.

I think one of the most important factors when working in warm environments is keeping hands dry and cool, so all of the below gloves provide good or at least moderate ventilation.

Handling cardboard boxes in bulk - wanting maintenance-free gloves

  • Smooth nitrile palm gloves - great abrasion resistance, light and flexible, good grip on dry surfaces, great ventilation, little padding, inexpensive, good life-expectancy per pair of gloves. These might also work with your touchscreen, depending on device.

  • Textured latex palm gloves - great abrasion resistance, medium flexibility/dexterity, good grip on dry or wet surfaces, ok ventilation, some padding on palms, moderate price, good life expectancy per pair of gloves.

Sporadic handling of cardboard boxes (20-200 packages per day) - wanting lightest gloves that would do the job

  • PU palm coated gloves - medium abrasion resistance, light and flexible, moderate grip on dry surfaces, great ventilation and heat dissipation, little padding, inexpensive, moderate life expectancy per pair of gloves.

  • Smooth nitrile palm gloves - great abrasion resistance, light and flexible, good grip on dry surfaces, great ventilation, little padding, inexpensive, good life-expectancy per pair of gloves. These might also work with your touchscreen, depending on device.

Handling cardboard boxes in bulk - ok with washing gloves (I recommend that you air dry your gloves after washing - some gloves shrink significantly if machine dried and become unusable)

  • Smooth nitrile palm gloves - great abrasion resistance, light and flexible, good grip on dry surfaces, great ventilation, little padding, inexpensive, good life-expectancy per pair of gloves. These might also work with your touchscreen, depending on device.

  • Textured latex palm gloves - great abrasion resistance, medium flexibility/dexterity, good grip on dry or wet surfaces, ok ventilation, some padding on palms, moderate price, good life expectancy per pair of gloves.

  • Mechanics gloves - great abrasion resistance, flexible, good grip on dry surfaces, normally good ventilation, padding depends on model, normally very expensive, will last for a long time if you care for them properly and don't misplace them.

Glove selection chart for winter or refrigerator work

When you have to deal with the cold (especially below freezing), there likely won't be the perfect solution for you. Thus, you will need to have a balance - keep your hands warm enough so fingers don't freeze, but not too hot that your hands sweat a lot and the gloves become wet. Insulated gloves also create problems for dealing with computers or small controls.

One of the solutions for working in a refrigerator is to be able to have spare gloves outside - so you can change them if they become wet. Things are also easier if you can frequently enter a warm place, though that isn't always a possibility.

Handling boxes in cold environments that are above freezing (32-45 F)

Handling boxes in cold environments that are slightly below freezing (20-32 F)

  • Textured latex palm gloves with napped acrylic shells - great grip and somewhat below average dexterity/flexibility, moderate insulation.

  • Insulated mechanic style gloves - we do not sell this style, but some insulated mechanic gloves are a good, durable solution. They are normally 10-20 times more expensive per pair than the rubber coated gloves that we offer, but they are a great solution for people who want to invest into gloves and care for them.

Crafty approach with layering for temperatures 20-45 F

  • It is possible that layering gloves may be the most effective approach. When layering, make sure that the outer pair is larger size - if they fit too tightly, you will reduce their insulation ability. You can layer any gloves. The inside layer should be either liner gloves or could be coated gloves with smooth non-sticky finish (so you can put on/remove the outer layer gloves). Outer layer can be mechanic style, latex coated, or nitrile coated. You'll have the insulation from the inner layer, and the abrasion/physical protection from the outer layer. Using expensive insulated gloves on the outside might make the arrangement more costly compared to using cheaper non-insulated gloves as an outer layer (if they wear out, they aren't as expensive to replace).