Decrements Encountered when Wearing Hazardous Materials Gloves

A. Dubrowski1, 2, V. R. LeBlanc2, R. MacDonald3, J. C. Larmer2, M. Praamsma2, H. Carnahan2, 4, *
1 Centre for Research in Nursing Education, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Canada
2 The Wilson Centre, University of Toronto, Canada
3 Deptartment of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada
4 Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Canada

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Dubrowski et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; E-mail:


Hazardous materials gloves (HAZMAT) are frequently worn when performing clinical technical skills, but it is unclear how sensory and motor performance is affected in these circumstances. In Experiment 1, two timed standardized manual dexterity tests, and a test of sensory function were administered. Glove use resulted in a decreased ability to manipulate small objects and a decreased sensitivity to light touch. However, the ability to manipulate objects with a tool was unaffected by the glove. In Experiment 2, the objects were instrumented with a force/torque sensor and the coefficient of friction between the digits and the object was estimated. An elevation of grasping forces and an increased slipperiness between the digits and the object were observed. In Experiment 3, fingertip placement was quantified with pressure sensitive sheets and revealed a misalignment of the digits. Collectively these results suggest that impairments to motor performance when wearing a glove might be related to misalignment of the digits, associated with sensory decrement. These results can be used in the formulation of protocols for professionals wearing HAZMAT gloves and in the design of tools and HAZMAT garments.

Keywords: Sensory, motor, grasping, forces, torque , hand, touch perception.