The Issue of Low Voltage Gloves

Frequently I get told by apprentices, in no uncertain terms I may add, that if low voltage gloves are to be worn then I have to have three sets of gloves.  The LV gloves, cotton inner gloves and leather outer gloves.  Hmm, let’s take a few steps back and see where this is coming from.  Now I am going to refer to Queensland legislation and codes of practice but if you are in a different state (or country) then check the legislation and codes applicable to you.  Most likely the reason you are wearing LV gloves is because you are testing energised (live).

What the Regs say

The Qld Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (ESR) s18 talks about “prohibition on energised electrical work” and mentions that you can perform energised electrical work if “it is necessary for the purpose of testing to ensure that the equipment is de-energised as required by ESR s15”.  So it is permitted to test live but in doing so ESR s22 “carrying out energised electrical work” says that the person doing the testing “uses the tools, testing equipment and PPE properly”. 

Also the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2013 (COP), Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace, chapter 7.5 before commencing any testing one of the requirements is to “use only appropriately rated PPE”.  Chapter 9.5 states that depending on the type of work and the risks involved …. Gloves – use gloves insulated to the highest potential voltage expected for the work being undertaken.

 Note that in the ESR and the COP they both only mention PPE (and gloves are PPE) with the COP further stating insulated gloves for testing.  Any reasonable person who cares for their own safety (and good practice) should wear LV gloves.  And I would encourage them to do so.  I believe that registered training organisations such as TAFE insist that LV gloves are worn.  Now you could say that the codes are not legislation, true but the codes are called up in legislation.

Which LV Gloves are Suitable?

Any low voltage gloves that are rated for the voltage you are going to work on.  If you are working on a standard 400V/230V system then 500V rated gloves will suffice as a minimum.  You should be checking these three things before use.

  • Voltage rating is suitable
  • In good condition
  • Air test (trap air in them to see if there are any pin holes)

What about the Test Due Date?

Yeah, what about it?  The gloves are PPE, you don’t have a test due date stamped on your shirt, boots or safety glasses, or do you?  Do not confuse the requirements for LV gloves that are in a LV rescue kit, these gloves and rescue crook are required to have that stamp.  The gloves that you are using are PPE and as such are required under the COP to be “appropriately rated”.  But hey, if a stamp is on it then that is even better.  Also some companies will go beyond the minimum specified in legislation and have a company policy requiring this, good on them, this is an additional layer for safety.

And that brings us to the three sets of gloves scenario.  The inners are for comfort and hygiene (it’s hot and sweaty in Queensland).  The outers are to protect the LV gloves and make them last longer.  Again, company policy may require the use of these additional gloves and if you are working for the company and wish to continue to do so then I would follow what the boss says (and that may be the case with TAFE too).

Summary

  • If you are testing energised (live) you must wear insulated gloves that can handle the voltage under test. 
  • Before use, check your gloves for suitability, condition and air test.
  • Company policy may require additional gloves and/or test due dates.
  • If in doubt, ask the boss.

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