When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), latex and nitrile gloves are considered staples. They protect your hand from bacteria, chemicals and other potentially harmful contaminants that exist in the air and on various surfaces. Because of the ongoing pandemic, protective gloves have become even more important in the workplace. They help keep the worksite hygienic and minimise the possibility of virus transmission.
If you run a business and need to provide your employees with PPE, you need to make a decision between nitrile and latex gloves. Although these two products are similar in some ways, each of them has unique pros and cons. Depending on the type of business that you’re running, one product might suit your purposes more than the other.
To help you decide, let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of nitrile gloves and latex gloves.
Since nitrile gloves are derived from synthetic materials, manufacturers are able to make them a bit more durable than latex gloves. They’re able to withstand most punctures and tears, making them suitable for tasks that involve handling rough materials.
Additionally, like other synthetic materials like PVC and polyethylene, nitrile gloves also have a shelf life of five years. This is two years longer than average latex gloves. For small businesses that need to keep stock of PPE products, this additional shelf life can save a significant amount of money in the long run.
- Resistant to chemicals
Nitrile gloves are known as ‘medical grade’ gloves primarily because of their ability to resist various substances. To name a few, nitrile is resistant to oils, petroleum products, weak acids and alkalis.
This makes nitrile gloves the perfect choice for tasks that involve a variety of chemicals like manufacturing plants, food processing plants and medical facilities. Nitrile gloves will protect the workers’ hands from getting contaminated, irritated or possibly even burned.
- More of an investment
Nitrile gloves are a bit more expensive than their latex counterparts. If you have a limited budget, this could be quite a big investment.
This issue becomes even more relevant if your business needs to buy protective gloves in bulk. This is often the case in workplaces that need access to disposable gloves on a daily basis. This includes food processing facilities, commercial kitchens, manufacturing plants, car service centres and medical centres.
- Not as comfortable as latex
Since nitrile is a bit thicker than latex, it doesn’t have the same ‘skin tight’ fit. Because of this, nitrile gloves aren’t as comfortable as latex gloves. Additionally, due to the thickness of the material, nitrile offers less freedom of movement and less tactile sensitivity.
Unlike nitrile gloves, latex gloves are derived from natural materials and are biodegradable. Most latex products only take five years to break down. This is a short amount of time in comparison to the hundred years that it takes for nitrile to decompose.
Because of latex’s biodegradability, you won’t have to worry about discarded latex gloves being stuck in landfills for decades. This will also reduce the amount of marine pollution, which in turn, reduces the chances of marine life digesting harmful synthetic materials.
- Great fit
Latex gloves are quite thin and are often said to fit the hand ‘like a second skin’. Not only does this make the gloves extremely comfortable to wear, it also gives the user a little bit more dexterity and tactile sensitivity. This makes latex gloves perfect for tasks that require accuracy and precise movements.
- Can cause allergic reactions
According to the Mayo Clinic, latex allergies are prevalent in those who work in health care, people with spina bifida and those with a family history of allergies. Allergic reactions can range from a simple rash to something more serious like anaphylaxis.
So, before you buy latex gloves, it’s important to know if anyone in your workplace has a latex allergy. Indeed, as a business owner (PCBU), you have a legal responsibility to protect your workers from foreseeable work-related hazards.
- Vulnerable to many chemicals and solvents
Latex gloves are resistant to some chemicals. For example, they offer fair resistance to some animal fats. However, unlike nitrile, they have poor resistance against gasoline and oils. Because of this, latex gloves alone might not be the best for fields like automotive maintenance.
There you have it, the pros and cons of nitrile and latex gloves. Hopefully, this guide has given you just a bit more insight on both products. Indeed, when it comes to PPE, it’s important that you get the little details right. Even after the pandemic passes, hygiene and workplace safety are still important to principles to uphold. And as a business owner, it’s your job to give your workers what they need to work safely and effectively.