Are you looking for the right gloves for your work or personal needs and cannot decide which one is suitable for you? Then read on as there’s a lot you must know before selecting the right pair of gloves.
Whether it is the attack of viruses and bacteria or a fight against dust and grease, gloves are the first line of defense for the skin.
These are personal protective gears and are essential now more than ever before.
Gloves are available in many different materials and designs. In the pre-industrial era, the most common material was cloth, and post that, rubber and polymers were the primary materials in use.
Many industries and health care people are struggling to find their usual gloves due to the increased demand in the world. They are searching to find alternative brands and materials to get the protection in place somehow.
If you are also struggling with some scarcity in the kind of gloves you usually buy, it is time to find out more about the different types of gloves in the market.
You may find another type of gloves that will perfectly fit your requirements.
Various types of gloves available in market
There are different types of gloves available in the market, as every industry has its own requirements to be fulfilled.
The material and safety aspects are equally important while choosing the right pair. All these gloves provide different levels of protection to the hands of the users.
Companies and people usually choose gloves based on thickness, strength, durability, flexibility, and many other factors.
The most basic difference is whether the gloves are Disposable or Reusable, and these two varieties have further subcategories.
You can use them once and throw them away. These are usually thin and provide tactile sensitivity and flexibility to the users.
1- General-purpose gloves
They are useful in different industries like-
- Cleaning services
- Automotive- servicing, manufacturing, and in garages
- Food and beverage industry
- Salon and other grooming and personal care providing services.
2- Medical gloves
They are special gloves that you can use in different departments of the healthcare industry.
You must choose gloves that follow the standards set by your local FDA. The choice of gloves also depends on the purpose in the healthcare industry.
- Surgical gloves in the surgery department.
- Examination gloves in almost all departments where internal examinations happen.
- Chemotherapy gloves are special, and they are resistant to special medicines and chemicals.
These are sturdier and often used in different industries.
These may be thicker and provide more protection as the users need to save their hands from sharp tools and machines.
The gloves may also be less flexible due to their thickness and cushioning pads. The gloves may be safe against chemicals.
You can sanitize these gloves after every use and inspect them for any punctures or holes.
You cannot use these gloves with all kinds of chemicals as their ingredients may react to the material of the gloves.
What are medical-grade gloves?
Medical gloves protect the users directly in contact with potential infections.
It helps to prevent infections from spreading and it is compulsory to wear these gloves when a medical examination or procedure is taking place.
This protective strategy helps control the transfer of germs, and both patients and healthcare workers feel safe when a protective barrier prevents direct contact.
Medical grade gloves are essentially disposable.
Examination gloves, chemotherapy gloves, and the most well-known surgical gloves are all different types of medical gloves available in the market.
FDA in every country regulates the quality of these gloves, and manufacturers must ensure adherence to these standards.
The standards define the qualities of medical-grade gloves that prevent damage to the users.
These qualities are resistance to tearing and leakage.
The manufacturers make these gloves using inert materials, do not react to chemicals easily, and do not trigger any allergy in the users or patients.
What are industrial gloves?
Industrial gloves are essential in the manufacturing industry.
People use heavy machinery, tools, and devices and also handle string chemicals in this industry. They need protection for their hands all the time.
Any carelessness may lead to harm and injury. What the users need are durable, comfortable, and flexible gloves.
The material must protect the users against cuts, injuries, and burns.
But at the same time, the gloves must be easy to wear and should not hamper their dexterity.
Employees are the most crucial resources that a company has. Their protection and safety are of paramount importance for the company, which is also a long-term investment. Different industries need different types of gloves.
The industrial gloves also use latex, cotton, leather, Kevlar, and the well-known nitrile. Depending on the activity, the worker has to use the right pair of gloves.
Types of medical gloves available in the market and the usage
The main types of medical gloves come under two categories-
- Surgical and
- Examination gloves.
- The third type is chemotherapy gloves that contain special materials suitable for the procedure.
Medical gloves are essential for people in the healthcare industry and even in other departments where people may contact injuries and contaminants.
Examples of these are rescue workers, police officers, salon service providers, teachers, pet owners, and many more, apart from the doctors and technicians in the caregiving industry. Even food manufacturing industry workers need to safeguard the interest of the consumers.
Medical gloves can contain many different materials that include latex, nitrile, and vinyl.
The gloves may come with a powder coating inside to help the wearer feel comfortable.
Examination gloves are common across industries and healthcare where the gloves’ main use is to prevent contamination and spread of germs.
Caregivers, nurses, and doctors use them while examining the patients, hence the name. Food handlers and cleaners use the other end of the spectrum to prevent direct contact with surfaces and food items.
This also protects the food items and other things from germs and blood contamination and prevents the spread of diseases to a large extent.
People use them around the house, too, while cleaning and using chemical agents. These are disposable, and that is a great feature as people throw these away after using them once.
Surgical gloves provide specific protection to surgeons. These gloves are thinner and allow more flexibility to the wearer, and they can use precision tools with an easy grip. This helps them when they have to deal with body fluids and very small tools on small organs.
Types of industrial gloves available in the market and the usage
Industrial gloves are available in numerous materials and designs. The right gloves for you are the ones that protect your hands against the elements of your work atmosphere.
- Butyl gloves are resistant to chemicals and liquids. These gloves are expensive but protect hands against hazardous materials, gas, and other potent liquids like acids.
- Lightweight gloves contain latex or rubber and can be useful at home and industry for lightweight work. You can use them for cleaning at homes or in laboratories as the material is waterproof. You can resume the gloves after proper inspection and cleaning.
- Gloves resistant to tear, puncture, and cuts usually use Kevlar. Workers who need to use sharp objects and glass, and other dangerous materials can use these gloves. Thinner ones are more flexible too. Some industries may need gloves of steel or metal mash.
- Aluminium thermal proof gloves ensure insulation to prevent burns. They protect the hands from extreme temperatures. These gloves are useful when you need to work in very cold or very hot temperatures. These are durable and flexible. Special fabric gloves using cotton and fabric blends can protect against mild heat and cold.
- Nitrite or other plastic disposable gloves are useful against chemicals and minor injuries. They also prevent damage from acids and oils.
- People need vibration-resistant gloves in some industrial functions like drilling and mining.
- Polyvinyl chloride gloves are waterproof and can protect against detergents, pesticides, and other irritants.
Difference between industrial gloves and medical gloves
Here are some significant differences between these two wide varieties of gloves.
1) Each Country’s FDA Requirements
People assume that these two kinds of gloves are not interchangeable as medical gloves are special.
This is true to a certain extent, but the reason is that industrial gloves do not have FDA certification.
Both kinds of gloves may provide similar protection. The medical gloves have certification from the FDA, and it is critical to ensure that the healthcare industry uses these only.
You cannot allow Industrial gloves in medical applications due to lack of a certificate. You can use medical gloves for lightweight industrial functions.
Basically, the medical and surgical gloves are similar. But they need to pass the technical tests for safety guidelines of the FDA.
These gloves have to be more flexible allowing the wearers to use their fingers easily.
Their hands are their most essential tools. The gloves should allow more sensitivity and help to grab small instruments used in the medical procedures.
In addition, these gloves have to be resistant to punctures and cuts to prevent contamination completely.
The gloves should be resistant to the chemicals in the laboratories and hospitals and body fluids too.
Medical gloves have to conform to all these conditions and many more. Then they get approval from the FDA.
All the manufacturers aim for similar goals, yet all the gloves may not be compliant and cannot be interchanged between industrial and medical gloves.
The gloves may still be safe for use in an emergency due to the material and other safety guidelines, but the hospitals may not approve their use ordinarily. Industrial gloves are also safe but not for medical purposes.
3) The manufacturing techniques
The safety guidelines regulate the material and manufacturing techniques for both gloves.
The Local FDA of each country can control the material of the gloves in different industries, but the manufacturing process may lack adequate controls.
The regulations require the manufacturers to produce gloves under strict quality control. The gloves should maintain their quality of protection.
The products, users, and their customers should get adequate protection and safety. That is one of the major differences between medical and industrial gloves and their sterilization techniques.
4) Industrial gloves are stronger and so may provide more protection
Industrial gloves are resistant to a different spectrum of strong fluids and tools, and they may be stronger.
Their strength and material may help the industrial gloves withstand strong chemicals for a longer duration.
That does not mean medical gloves are not strong enough. The medical gloves have features that work in specific circumstances and are perfect for those conditions.
Industrial gloves, for example, are useful for car mechanics and heavy machinery users as gloves prevent injuries.
On the other hand, nitrile medical gloves are useful to handle delicate tools and soft tissues. Their aim is not to be strong against mechanical pressure but to prevent contamination.
Each kind of glove has its specific use and the perfect design to suit that need.
In simple terms, industrial gloves are not medical gloves, and you should not use them in the healthcare industry even if they are stronger.
5) Powder coating
Surgical or medical gloves cannot have a powder coating anymore, according to US FDA guidelines.
This white powder provides a lubricating effect to the wearer, and they can wear or remove gloves without any friction.
But, this powder may trigger skin allergies in the user or others who come into contact.
The cornstarch or the other variants of powder may also cause breathing problems in asthma patients.
Now chlorination or polymer coating smoothens the gloves and makes them easy to wear.
Industrial gloves continue to come with powder coating even now. People can choose the same if they are not allergic to the powder. The powder also absorbs the sweat inside the gloves, and some people do not mind the powdered gloves.
6) Standards for Different Uses
Each kind of glove has to comply with regulations for the AQL level. This describes and determines the level of tolerable quality in terms of risk and damage to the gloves.
If the AQL level is higher, then the gloves provide less protection. The standards for different types of gloves are
- Industrial Grade – 4.0 AQL
- Surgical Grade – 1.5 AQL
- Medical Grade – 2.5 AQL
The manufacturing process must maintain these levels to ensure acceptance and approval of the gloves.
Here we can see that industrial-grade gloves may have more risks, and surgical gloves have the most negligible risks.
7) Fillers inside the gloves
The manufacturers may use fillers like calcium, silicates, or clay to make the gloves less expensive.
These fillers may affect the quality of protection and its durability.
Industrial gloves especially may have even up to 25% fillers as these may be less difficult to detect due to the thickness and cushioning.
Medical gloves, on the other hand, are thinner and have to comply with the FDA standards. These are safer due to the same.
8) Exterior texture
Medical gloves have to be smooth outside for use on the patients. The industrial gloves may have a textured grip to hold the tools or use with slippery liquids.
The gloves with a better grip are obviously more suitable for industrial usage.
How to pick the right medical glove
Now that we know more about medical gloves, it is easier to choose the right ones for your use.
Medical gloves also come in different materials. The three main options are latex, nitrile, and vinyl, and depending on your work sphere, you can choose the properties, usage, and material.
Our healthcare members work for long hours under strenuous conditions. The snug gloves with flexibility will help the users feel comfortable even after working for long hours.
Choose the right pair of gloves after checking the following properties-
✔️ Snug Fitting gloves provide comfort and flexibility. Such a glove allows free movement of fingers. Latex and nitrile are snugger and are stretchier than the vinyl ones. Gloves must resist tearing. Latex and nitrile are tear-resistant. Vinyl gloves are less stretchy and tear easily even while wearing if you stretch them too much.
✔️ Similarly, the strength and resilience of the gloves are important. Again, nitrile and latex are more suitable than vinyl gloves in stressful conditions. Vinyl may not sustain for long under stress.
✔️ Medical gloves must not hamper the sensitivity when handling delicate body parts, and precision tools and stretchy snug gloves make a better choice. Vinyl gloves are looser, and nitrile gloves or latex have a close-fitting design. The user can feel the tools and other surfaces even through the gloves.
✔️ Such gloves also allow good grip for even the smallest objects. The user must be conscious about the grip and not hurt a patient. Latex and nitrile offer a good grip due to the textured surfaces. Vinyl gloves may not provide a very strong grip, but they are easy to use as they do not stick to patients’ skin.
✔️ The Healthcare industry must also consider the risks of allergy to the users and patients alike. Latex and powder are some well-known allergens. The allergies may range from mild sensitivity to extreme reactions. Now we also get latex gloves that have a protective layer to reduce the allergic reaction. Anyway, healthcare workers can opt for nitrile or vinyl gloves to prevent allergies in patients.
✔️ The most important aspect of using gloves is to prevent cross-infections and contaminations. All the gloves may not provide the same level of protection. You can choose vinyl gloves if the medical processes come under the low-risk category. But the best option would be to opt for nitrile or latex gloves as these materials are known to sustain barriers for longer. The resilience and resistance, apart from the strength of the material, play a role in this. The glove must stay intact even under stressful conditions.
✔️ Medical treatments involve certain chemicals, including some corrosive ones too. If you are looking at more chemical resistance, then check the PPE certification of the gloves. Out of the available materials, nitrile and vinyl may provide a little more protection than the latex ones.
✔️ Chemotherapy gloves have a separate category, and the material and manufacturing techniques are different. If you need these gloves, then look for the special category approved by the FDA. The chemotherapy involves concoctions of complex chemicals, and the glove material must not react to any of the ingredients.
✔️ Now there is a new material in the market too. Chloroprene is a chemical that helps make synthetic rubber known as neoprene. People have started using it in the industrial sector, but more research is needed for its use in the medical sector.
Choose the right gloves that suit the particular requirement for the department.
For example, a dental surgeon may need specific gloves, while the nurse in an emergency room may require different gloves. Similarly, technicians and lab operators may need particular gloves. So choosing the right combination of material, flexibility, resistance, and other factors is important apart from FDA approval.
How to pick the right industrial glove
The work gloves or industrial gloves are available in many materials and designs now. Gloves are essential to ensure the safety of the workers.
✔️ Material of the gloves- The material of the gloves must prevent the hands from injury. Many tasks like carpentry, cooking, and working with tools and machines need stronger gloves that are cut and picture resistant. Different tasks and work environments will require different levels of toughness and materials.
✔️ The material should be of adequate thickness and provide cushioning to the user. Some gloves come with pads for fingers or guards for knuckles and palms.
✔️ The tasks involving heavy machinery use will need gloves that can withstand the vibrations of the equipment and protect the hands at the same time. Such work with power tools may sometimes lead to swelling or blistering, and the gloves are essential safety gear.
✔️ The work also involves using chemicals and water too at times. The gloves must be liquid resistant. The gloves should not allow any water inside the gloves. Nowadays, the material is not just resistant to water, but it repels water and other fluids, so it is easy to keep those gloves clean and dry.
✔️ Another tough environment for workers is extreme temperature. Welding and mining are some examples. Extreme heat and extreme cold may damage the hands irreparably. Heat-resistant gloves use fire-resistant material that also has a coat of fire retardant. This prevents any accidental spark and contact with inflammable materials. Cold-resistant gloves have insulation that provides warmth and prevents the hands from damage.
✔️ Workers dealing with electrical devices need gloves that can prevent electric shocks. Rubber is a good example, and gloves should not have any metal element in terms of buttons or zips to prevent even accidental conduction of electricity.
✔️ Size and fit are extremely important for work gloves. They should allow a good grip and flexibility to use the gloves with machines and tools at the workplace. They need to work for long hours wearing the same gloves, and their comfort is essential. Poor-fitting may actually cause blisters on the skin and discourage workers from using gloves. Check the seams on different parts of the gloves and how they impact each employee’s performance and the best fit.
✔️ They can try different gloves to see the best fit and comfort that does not cause cramps or blisters and then choose the right gloves.
✔️ A non-slippery rubber grip is an essential aspect of industrial gloves and helps users hold the tools without any risk of slipping.
✔️ Some people like using fingerless and half-finger gloves to use their fingers easily. But this depends on the dexterity of the users. The gloves may protect while the wearer is using tools with his fingers.
✔️ Touchscreens are ubiquitous now. The users will have to use their phones and the consoles of their machines. They need to be able to use the screen with the gloves on.
✔️ Latex, nitrile, and other materials with fillers for cushioning are the most common gloves these days. The latest material is Neoprene that is flexible and long-lasting. The material is resistant to heat and tearing easily. These provide waterproof, thick protection to the wearer. You can use them across the industry, even in extreme conditions.
✔️ No one type can suit all industrial purposes. So choose suitable gloves for your employees.
What is the shelf life of gloves?
The storage life of a glove depends on the type of material of the glove and the conditions of its storage. You must store the gloves in a cool place away from sunlight. UV light in the Sun rays damage the gloves, and they may stick or deteriorate over time.
Ensure that the gloves do not have any tears or damage before using them after a long time in storage.
I want to know about latex allergies due to gloves, and can we prevent the same?
The proteins present in the latex or natural rubber cause a Type I Allergy. We can now get latex gloves with treated latex that may not cause severe allergies with time and innovation. But we cannot eliminate it.
So to be on the safe side, you must use it in your company only if you know that no employee is allergic to latex. Otherwise, switch to the synthetic varieties of gloves, like nitrile or vinyl.
How do we decide the right size of gloves for employees?
Use a flexible tape to measure the hand to check the length and the shape that best suits the hand.
The diameter of the hand will help you decide the size of the gloves.
You may have to provide many pairs of gloves and allow employees to choose the correct size and shape for themselves.
How should I dispose of used gloves in my workplace?
This is a complex answer.
- Medical gloves must follow the guidelines. Toxic chemicals and hazardous biological material contaminate these gloves. Carefully dispose of the gloves the same way you would biohazard waste.
- You can incinerate the other gloves according to the laws of the area where you are living. Anyway, segregate the gloves and ensure no-one touches them to prevent contamination.
Should I choose white or neutral colors for gloves?
Gloves are available in a few colors. For example, nitrile gloves, usually, are blue. Latex and nitrile gloves may also come in white or other shades. But if the chemicals you use necessitate colorful gloves, then you can find those too. The tear and punctures should be easily visible in the gloves. You can buy industrial gloves in specific colors, too, if you order in bulk.
What is the meaning of AQL in glove manufacturing?
This is the Acceptable Quality Level for glove manufacturing. This is the accepted international standard/ level of defects in a batch of gloves during manufacturing. The manufacturer checks each batch of gloves with water and checks for pictures and other defects.
With an AQL of 3 or 4, a batch cannot have more than this number of defects. If the defects are more than this number, he must reject the entire set.
Industrial grade gloves have an AQL of 3 to 4. Medical-grade gloves cannot have an AQL around 2.5.
Gloves are essential for working in any industry.
With the fear of germs and contamination and the other safety concerns, it is more important to pay attention to the type of gloves your industry needs.
Look at the AQL, quality, and safety aspects before choosing suitable gloves.
These are integral for your employees, and they must feel safe while using the machines and tools.
Right gloves will provide them comfort and increase productivity.