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Disposable nitrile gloves knowledge and precautions for use?

Disposable nitrile gloves knowledge and precautions for use?

Aug 17, 2021

What are nitrile gloves?

Nitrile gloves, unlike natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves, are produced using synthetic materials, which means they are free from latex and safe for use by those with Type I sensitisation (latex allergy). They are more robust than their latex and vinyl counterparts, making them more suitable for use in environments where tearing and abrasion are risk factors. But perhaps the most critical benefit of nitrile gloves is the protection they provide against a range of hazards, including many chemicals. These hard-wearing gloves provide users with a high level of protection, whilst being comfortable to wear and long-lasting. It’s no wonder nitrile gloves are one of the most popular glove varieties on the market.

What do nitrile gloves protect against?

Hazards to the skin are a part of many workplaces, from fast food outlets to electrical assembly and handling, to healthcare and hospital environments. Protecting workers, as well as preventing contamination of surfaces, materials, and products, is an essential part of risk mitigation for any workplace, and wearing the appropriate glove is an essential component of this mitigation. In public-facing roles such as healthcare, dental and hospital environments, gloves also play an important role in keeping medical and surgical equipment sterile, as well as protecting patients, equipment and surfaces free from harm or contamination.

Nitrile gloves also protect against biological hazards such as bacteria, fungus, and dangerous pathogens, including those found in blood and bodily fluids.

Nitrile gloves vs vinyl gloves.

For decades, vinyl gloves have been an incredibly popular choice for many workplaces. Not only are they quick to don and remove – making them preferred in applications where regular removal and replacement is required – but they are some of the more affordable gloves available. Their synthetic composition also means they are latex free and therefore suitable for use by those who suffer from latex allergies.

Both vinyl gloves and nitrile gloves can offer workplaces a great safety glove solution, depending on the application in question. However, vinyl gloves simply do not provide the same levels of performance provided by nitrile gloves. Choosing between vinyl and nitrile gloves comes down to the application in question, the hazards and risks involved, and the factors of price and comfort.

The table below shows the important comparisons that need to be made:

Material A synthetic compound composed of acrylonitrile, butadiene and carboxylic acid monomers Synthetic disposable glove made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Cost Generally more expensive than vinyl or latex gloves Generally less expensive than latex and nitrile gloves
Latex free? Yes Yes
Protection Offer protection against oil-based chemicals and solvents, cleaning products, biohazards, and more Not safe for sustained contact with fatty foods and oils, protect against low-level chemicals such as detergents and cleaning products

Available as medical grade gloves
Durability More robust and resistant to tears and punctures Less robust and subject to tearing and puncturing
Flexibility and comfort Form-fitting and very elastic Less elastic and more loose-fitting
Powder-free? Available in powdered and non-powdered versions Available in powdered and non-powdered versions
Suitable for extended use? Yes No

Nitrile gloves for cleaning

Cleaning applications, including both domestic and industrial cleaning, involve contact with a range of chemicals which can irritate or cause damage to hands, wrists and arms. Nitrile gloves are an excellent choice for almost any cleaning application, thanks to the superior levels of protection they provide against a wide range of hazards, including detergents, degreasers, abrasive materials, alcohols, and acids. Thanks to their form-fitting comfort and robust construction, they’re also particularly suited for extended wear, which is often necessary for cleaning jobs.

In certain cleaning roles, protecting surfaces, materials, and even the public, against contamination is just as critical as protecting the hands of workers.

Black nitrile gloves

For some workplaces, protecting worker’s hands against hazards is only part of the equation. In certain industries, such as tattooing, printing, painting, and agriculture, black nitrile gloves can also make the environment more comfortable for workers and clients. In these industries, in particular, contact with visible bodily fluids or paints and dyes can make the environment uncomfortable or unpleasant for workers and their clients. Black nitrile gloves help to mask the colour of these materials and make the experience more pleasant for all parties involved.

Another benefit of black disposable gloves is the ease of detection of light-coloured fluids, which can be particularly useful in the dairy industry, for example.

Are nitrile exam gloves latex free?

Traditionally, latex gloves were used in many healthcare, hygiene, and medical roles as examination gloves, due to their incredible elasticity and their second-skin feel. However, due to the increased awareness around latex allergies, many industries have chosen to move away from using latex examination gloves. In their place, nitrile exam gloves are often used, and thanks to innovations in manufacturing processes, offer a latex-like feel and improved levels of comfort for wearers.

Nitrile gloves are free from NRL, making them safe for use by those suffering from latex allergies, as well as being safe for those whom the wearers come into contact with, including the general public, patients and clients. What’s more, nitrile gloves offer higher levels of protection against tearing and puncturing over their latex counterparts, as well as increased levels of resistance to a number of chemicals.

Are nitrile gloves anti-static?

Although wearing safety gloves is an important part of the PPE component of workplace health and safety, and plays a vital role in keeping workers and materials safe, the gloves themselves have the potential to present a risk. Some glove materials like NRL (natural rubber latex) are inherently insulative, which means that they can cause a build-up of static electricity. This build-up can cause ESD or ‘electrostatic discharge’, which is not only potentially harmful to workers but can damage materials and components which contain electronics.

Nitrile gloves, as opposed to latex gloves, are naturally less static insulative and less likely to cause ESD. For workplaces where ESD is a risk factor, choosing nitrile gloves is an important part of creating an ESD Protected Area which is free from the risk of electrostatic discharge. However, with many nitrile gloves, ESD is still a possibility.


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