Gloves sold in the United States are subject to various product regulations, safety standards, labeling rules, and testing requirements. In this guide, we explain what gloves importers must know about the OSH act, fabrics regulations, certification, and more
- Coated gloves
- Leather gloves
- Rubber gloves
- Chemical resistant gloves
- Fabric gloves
- Dishwashing gloves
- Sports gloves
- Winter gloves
- Children’s gloves
Safety Work Gloves: OSH Act
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) aims at protecting the safety of working men and women at the worksite.
The act mandates that employers must provide their workers with a safe working environment that does not pose serious threats to them and ensure the personnel’s physical safety at worksite by providing the necessary protective equipment such as gloves, masks, or earplugs, to prevent the harms brought by chemical exposure, falls or any other hazards from using dangerous devices.
Currently, the OSHA is adopted by 50 states in the US and covers most private and party of sector employers and their workers.
More specifically, OSHA mandates that, if a worksite poses a potential threat to the hands and arms of the workers, employers must ensure that employees wear appropriate protection for their hands and arms, such as gloves and arm coverings.
OSHA recommends that employers take steps to prevent the following injuries from befalling their workers:
- Skin absorption of harmful substances
- Chemical or thermal burns
- Electrical dangers
In order to maximize the prevention of the threat of harmful chemicals and other dangers to human hands, employers should choose different types of gloves to protect against a wide variety of hazards to the employees.
The following are examples of some factors that may influence the selection of protective gloves for employees in the worksite.
- Type of chemicals handled
- Nature of contact (total immersion, splash, and other)
- Duration of contact with potentially harmful substances
- The area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm)
- Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily)
- Thermal protection
- Size and comfort
- Abrasion/resistance requirements
Safety Glove Types
Gloves made of different materials can serve different functions in terms of preventing the different types of hazards at the worksite. Generally, there are four types of gloves:
- Gloves made of leather, canvas or metal mesh
- Fabric and coated fabric gloves
- Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves
- Insulating rubber gloves
Work Gloves Safety Standards
The following two articles stipulate the general rules for the use of working wear from OSHA, including gloves and hand protection:
- OSHA 1910.137 – Electrical Protective Equipment, which includes rubber insulating gloves and sleeves
- OSHA 1910.138 – General requirements and selection (including hand protection)
Note that these are only two examples. Additional OSHA may apply to other types of gloves.
Work gloves manufactured outside the United States are not exclusively designed to comply with OHSA standards and requirements. For example, work gloves made for the Chinese market are widely available online but are not designed to comply with US safety standards.
You must either request lab test reports from your manufacturer or submit work glove samples for safety testing before buying work gloves from a supplier outside the United States.
Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA)
The Flammable Fabrics Act was passed by Congress to regulate the highly flammable materials used in the garment industry in the US.
Most glove products are exempted from the Act, except for gloves that are longer than 14 inches and or attached to a garment. This type of gloves could be found in the category of PPE (personal protective equipment) working gloves that provide extra splash or immersion protection.
General Certificate of Conformity (GCC)
If the gloves you plan to import to the United States are subjected to the Flammable Fabrics Act (or other CPSC regulations), then the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission requires a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC), demonstrating the compliance of the products.
Either the importer or the manufacturer must issue the GCC for products and attach the certificate when selling the products.
Content Summary of the GCC
1. Product name and description
2. List of applicable CPSC safety rules and ASTM standards
3. Your company name
4. Contact details: Mailing address, email address, phone number
5. Name of the person holding the test report
6. Date (month, year) and place (city, country) of production
7. Date (month, year) and place (city, country) of product testing
8. Third-party testing company, contact person, email, phone number and address
This guide explains how to create a GCC when importing workwear products to the US.
Internationally recognized American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) rules and standards, including substance restrictions, are usually voluntary but offer a reference to achieve high safety and quality standards.
- ASTM D7198, Standard Specification for Disposable Embalming Gloves for Single-Use Applications
- ASTM F696, Standard Specification for Leather Protectors for Rubber Insulating Gloves and Mittens
- ASTM D7329, Standard Specification for Food Preparation and Food Handling (Food Service) Gloves
- ASTM D4679, Standard Specification for Rubber General Purpose, Household or Beautician Gloves
See this page for more information about ASTM standards and rules.
Glove manufacturers in Asia seldom provide ASTM testing reports; importers can reach a lab testing company such as Bureau Veritas or TUV to assess the compliance of your product with relevant standards.
Any garment or other textile products imported to or made in the US must have a textile label that shows its fiber composition.
This label often takes the form of a nylon patch sewn onto the item. When textile products are sold in pairs, for instance, gloves or socks, only one part of the pair or set needs to be labeled.
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Customs Service Regulations require the correct labeling of products. In particular, FTC requires that labeling for glove products shall have the following information:
- Fiber content
- Country of origin (C/O)
- RN on only one glove in a pair
Note that labeling is not required for gloves.
You will need to design the textile label and save the design to a vector graphics container file format, preferably .ai or .eps, then send it to the manufacturer prior to the start of mass-production.
If you are importing leather gloves to the US market, you should pay attention to the labeling regulations for leather products. FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) 16 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 24, set rules on the labeling requirements of leather products in the US.
According to the regulation, it is considered a deception to misrepresent the composition and content of the leather, including but not limited to the following:
- Material content
For example, if all or a part of your leather gloves are made of non-genuine leather materials, then you should specify on the product labels or instructions that this product is not made of leather.
Instead, you should use words such as not leather, imitation leather, simulated leather, vinyl, vinyl-coated fabric, or plastic.
For more detailed information, check FTC’s guidelines on leather labeling.
California Proposition 65
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) updates the list of chemicals that are restricted by California Proposition 65 annually, as those chemicals existed in the consumer products in the US market, and they are proven to be harmful to the human body and could lead to cancer or other defects.
Up until now, the proposition lists more than 910 kinds of toxic chemicals and the list keeps expanding. California Proposition 65 requires that all the products manufactured or imported to the state of California, including gloves, must not contain excessive chemical substances from the list.
Any importer or manufacturer that is found to sell non-compliant products will be fined up to $2500 per day for each violation and will have to conduct product recalls.
Examples of restricted substances
- Hexavalent chromium
California Proposition 65 Lab testing
In order to assess if the gloves they plan to import to the US market do not contain any of the prohibited substances by California Proposition 65, importers can contact an accredited third-party lab-testing company in order to test the product.
Also, importers should not count on the manufacturers from the exporting countries to provide the California Proposition 65 Lab test reports, since in most cases the factories are not equipped with the necessary testing devices.
The cost of California Proposition 65 lab-testing is at least $200 but can be much higher depending on the individual company, service package you choose, and the specifications of the products.
Here you can find a list of companies offering California Proposition 65 lab testing services.
Testing is not mandatory for complying with California Proposition 65. You can either choose to attach a warning label to your product or packaging or verify that your gloves don’t contain any restricted substances above the limits set by the proposition, via a lab test.
Children’s Gloves: CPSIA
Gloves made for children aged 12 years or younger must comply with the CPSIA. Here’s a brief summary of CPSIA requirements:
- Third-party lab testing required
- Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)
- Tracking label
- Periodic testing plan
- Product Registration Card
Note that the CPSIA doesn’t replace other product safety standards and labeling requirements in this article.
Country of Origin
16 Code of Federal Regulations mandates that, any product made by foreign or domestic manufacturers be correctly labeled with the Country of Origin (COO) mark.
The C/O must appear on the front side of the label and be placed in a conspicuous location of the garment.
- Made in China
- Made in Vietnam
- Made in Malaysia
- Made in Thailand
Federal and state governments have strict regulations concerning product labeling in the US. Therefore, importers should also treat the content on the label with extra care. We suggest importers create a specific folder to keep track of all the relevant and necessary information for the product labels. We recommend that you use .ai or .eps formats for your file.
In addition to the compliance issues concerning the gloves, importers and manufacturers should also pay attention to the product packaging compliance issue and also conduct the corresponding lab-test for safety reasons. Here is an example of the main package regulations:
Heavy Metals Restrictions
In the US, individual states have different statutes that limit the levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury contained within packaging materials, dyes, and printing inks.
Importers may also be required that the packaging conspicuously demonstrate any applicable compliance marks and/or country of origin along with other labels.