Disposable gloves are one of the most common products on the PPE market, owing to their application in both protection and hygiene. Nitrile gloves are perhaps the most in demand type of disposable glove, as they offer a range of benefits including strength, dexterity, and resistance. However, COVID-19 and inflated shipping costs has resulted in the price of nitrile disposable gloves soaring, which presents a problem for those tasked with specifying hand protection.
This blog will go through some of the reasons behind this, and outline the wide range of alternative glove options available. As well as covering a few of the different materials that disposable gloves can be made from, we will also highlight the role that re-usable gloves can play in certain industries.
What is nitrile?
Nitrile is a type of synthetic rubber, which means that people who suffer from latex allergies are able to wear gloves made from this material. It is estimated that up to 5% of the general population have a latex allergy, which indicates why nitrile has become such a popular option.
The benefits of nitrile go beyond allergies. When compared directly with latex or vinyl gloves, it is far more puncture resistant, which can prove vital in applications that pose the risk of snagging (it is worth noting that if working with sharp objects or tools, cut-resistant gloves are required). It is also the case that from a financial perspective, nitrile has historically proven to be more stable in price than latex. This is owing to the fact that it is a synthetic material, and therefore not as dependent on natural resources as latex is.
However, this has changed over the course of the past year, with a massive increase in demand for nitrile triggering a significant price rise, particularly for raw materials. There have also been supply chain challenges, largely associated with the knock-on effects of COVID-19, which has raised the cost even further.
Naturally, as the price of disposable nitrile gloves soars, those tasked with specifying hand protection in key industries such as medical, food, and cleaning will seek alternatives. Below are some of the best disposable options.
We’ve covered latex already, and while allergies mean these will not be suitable for all, it is worth pointing out that they are still ideal for a lot of individuals. Particularly in food production settings, powder free latex gloves represent a good option (provided they are clearly labelled, and that non-latex alternatives are available to those with allergies).
For those who need a latex free option, vinyl can offer a versatile solution. They are a simple and effective glove, ideal for clinical and food processing applications. Supertouch’s powder free vinyl glove also comes with the option of a beaded cuff, and a choice of blue or clear to ensure they can be used in a variety of situations.
Fish scale gloves
Fish scale gloves are more robust than standard medical gloves, with Supertouch’s version featuring enhanced grip and food safe approval. As such, they have become popular in the food manufacturing industry, but in order to concentrate on meeting the global demand for nitrile, a number of manufacturers have diverted time and resources away from making these.
Black nitrile gloves
Black nitrile gloves are common in the automotive industry, and are a great example of the type of glove that has suffered from a price increase over the past few months. With demand for nitrile growing, it is worth noting that alternative options are available to mechanics.
Alternatives to disposables
The obvious advantage of disposables is in the name - they can be worn and disposed of once finished, negating the need for washing. However, this benefit is soon eroded when the price of raw materials outgrows that of washing and maintenance, and there are a number of alternatives to nitrile and latex that should be highlighted.
For example, the Pawā PG103 and PG202 are great options for mechanics who might traditionally opt for black nitrile gloves. These have the advantage of offering extra protection, with the latter containing oil repellent technology and some resistance against intermittent heat contact.
Pawā have a range of gloves suited to a number of different applications, and it is worth considering if disposable gloves are indeed the optimum solution. For many industries, particularly food manufacturing and medical grade tasks, there is often no other option, particularly when it comes to infection control. But even in these cases, it may be worth seeking out alternatives to nitrile while global demand soars.
For many industries, the use of disposable gloves is down to tradition, ease and cost. Those tasked with specifying PPE should analyse whether the operational advantages offered by re-usable hand protection outweighs the convenience of disposable gloves, especially with the increasingly advanced dexterity offered by ranges such as Pawā. With the price of nitrile disposable gloves increasing, this is something that requires careful consideration.