Disposable gloves are an essential piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), which means choosing the right disposable glove for your workplace is a paramount decision. Healthcare workers, in particular, need reliable disposable gloves that will keep them safe from hazards such as chemicals, biological materials, sharp objects and more. Nitrile gloves are a viable option for the healthcare industry because they are protective, durable, easy to change, affordable and latex-free.
To help you make an informed PPE choice, this article will cover what nitrile gloves are, what they are used for, what hazards nitrile gloves do and do not protect against and how to choose the right disposable glove for your application. Regardless of which type of healthcare setting you work in, this article will help you determine the best PPE for you.
What Are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile gloves are a disposable, effective and inexpensive form of hand protection for workers across a wide range of industries. The word nitrile is short for acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber. Unlike latex gloves, which are made with natural rubber, nitrile rubber gloves are synthetic and latex-free. This means nitrile gloves are a dependable PPE alternative for anyone with a latex allergy.
To produce these synthetic rubber gloves, the rubber from rubber trees must first be transformed into latex rubber before being reprocessed. Once the rubber has been manufactured into latex, the monomers acrylonitrile and butadiene are bonded together to form the nitrile compound material. This extra step of processing removes all latex proteins, making nitrile gloves reliably latex-free.
The resulting nitrile gloves are durable as well as resistant to both punctures and chemicals. While manufacturing disposable nitrile rubber gloves used to be an expensive process, modern technological advancements have led to a more cost-effective approach. Nitrile gloves are now equally as affordable as regular latex gloves. Due to the affordability, accessibility and low allergy rating of nitrile gloves, many people choose them over latex gloves.
Nitrile rubber gloves are available in a variety of colors, sizes and thicknesses, making them suitable for an array of applications. Nitrile gloves are also unisex and ambidextrous so workers don’t have to waste time finding matching sets, and workplaces don’t need to worry about keeping numerous styles in stock.
What Are Nitrile Gloves Used For?
Nitrile gloves are suitable PPE for applications in a variety of industries. The disposable gloves give the wearer dependable hand protection from a range of potential hazards, including cuts, liquids and abrasive materials.
The comfortable fit of nitrile gloves and the ease of putting them on and removing them also make them a valuable asset for industries that necessitate extended PPE use. Nitrile gloves are also suitable for applications or jobs that are shorter in duration and require frequent glove changes.
What Do Nitrile Gloves Protect Against?
Wearing the appropriate glove can guard workers’ hands against skin irritations, infections, burns, cuts and abrasions. Nitrile gloves can save the wearer’s hands from coming into direct contact with a range of hazardous and abrasive materials. In addition to protecting the wearer, nitrile gloves can protect any delicate materials being handled, such as electronics, metal and glass.
Before discussing the specifics of what substances nitrile gloves protect against, it is important to differentiate incidental contact and extended contact. Use these definitions to distinguish between incidental and extended contact scenarios:
Incidental contact: Situations that involve minimal contact with hazardous material, such as accidental splashes or spills, unintentional overspray from a dispensing machine and dealing with infectious agents that necessitate barrier protection. In these cases, a barrier between the glove wearer and the material is all that is needed to avoid incidental contact.
Extended contact:Situations that involve more long-term exposure, such as encountering highly contaminated materials, the submergence of hands into a chemical or another hazardous substance, undergoing extreme temperatures and handling sharp or piercing objects.
The exact ability of a nitrile glove to provide protection from a substance depends on the glove’s thickness. Thinner nitrile gloves, such as a disposable exam glove, are intended for incidental contact, whereas thicker nitrile gloves, such as thicker reusable gloves, are suitable for extended contact. In general, disposable nitrile gloves that are at least 5 millimeters thick can fend off breakthrough for 15 minutes after coming in contact with many chemicals.