Single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) is an area that most suppliers don’t focus on yet, this is what we live and breathe. Often companies selling PPE know very little about these products, or even don't care!
Cost is always a factor in any purchasing decision. With products such as disposable gloves and clothing, there has previously been little reason to think beyond the price. If a product is cheap, something is always compromised somewhere in the supply chain.
In this particular article, we highlight the true cost of disposable gloves, and why you need to focus on value when purchasing these products, rather than cost alone.
(WARNING – the following contains information that may shock!)
How Can Gloves Be So Cheap?
1. Raw materials
Gloves manufactured from cheap, low-quality raw materials can commonly cause skin allergies. Studies have shown that the chemical accelerators and other additives commonly used in the production of nitrile, latex and non-latex gloves can cause Type IV allergy, presenting as chronic dermatitis of the hands and wrists.
Weakness in gloves is as much a factor of glove quality and raw material choice as it is thickness. So if there are ripping or breakage problems - moving to a thicker glove is not necessarily the best option and increases cost and waste.
Nitrile gloves made with poor quality raw materials may have increased levels of cyanide within the glove - there is currently no testing for this and no requirement for testing to take place. Fillers like chalk can lower the quality whilst having potential toxic problems.
“….increased levels of cyanide within the glove….”
To reduce costs, many vinyl gloves contain the inexpensive phthalate plasticizers. These have been found to adversely impact human health and have been added to the California Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer. Read more about vinyl gloves here.
With raw materials making up around 45% of a glove, you can see how important they are to the quality of a glove.2. Manufacturing, QC and labour standards
Do you, or your PPE supplier, know where your disposable gloves & clothing are manufactured?
Recent factory audits and investigations have revealed endemic and serious labour rights abuse of workers in glove factories in Thailand, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. A comprehensive investigative report by the BMA states that:
“The manufacture of disposable gloves is at a high risk of labour rights abuse.”
The Eagle Standard ensures our products meet consistent high quality specifications and are manufactured sustainably and ethically via our fully transparent supply chain. This standard means we visit personally visit our factories to audit them against our Supplier Code of Conduct to verify product quality, staff conditions, and the factory’s environmental footprint. We are also Sedex members and utilise third-party social and environmental audits conducted by APSCA certified audit companies
3. How many gloves per box?
Most disposable glove boxes contain 100 gloves. However, a well-known method by manufacturers of reducing costs is to include up to 5-10 fewer gloves per box, and/or include a number of defective gloves – instantly reducing the cost of goods!
“up to 5-10 less gloves per box”
Top Issues That Cheap Gloves Can Cause
Many gloves wearers experience glove issues due to using either incorrect glove sizes or cheap disposable gloves. We’ve broken down the most common issues that they face.
Ripped gloves defeat the whole purpose of wearing them! Whether it’s when you’re using them or when you are putting them on, a glove that rips is useless.
Ordering gloves made with higher quality ingredients using higher-quality manufacturing processes will stop you from saying, “Our gloves rip all the time.” Watch this video on how to don and doff your disposable gloves correctly to avoid unnecessary ripping. Eagle Protect sources high-quality gloves, made the right way. Our proprietary Delta Zero™ program ensures our gloves meet Eagle’s high strength and durability standards.2. Different Gloves Every Order
One box of gloves works well. In the next one, the gloves rip all the time or fit differently. There are very few products where it’s acceptable to interchange and send different brands and types. Each glove is going to perform differently. When you order gloves, you should get that same gloves every time.
To solve this, here at Eagle our products are single factory sourced, to ensure manufacturing and product consistency. You receive the same product, the same raw material and the same manufacturing process every time. This ensures our gloves are the exact same from box to box. The gloves you trialled and ordered are the gloves you’ll get, guaranteed.
3. Hand Fatigue And Injury
Hand injuries cost businesses a lot of money. Repetitive movements made while wearing gloves with poor elasticity or that are too thick causes a lot of unnecessary stress on workers hands.
A thicker glove is not always better. Disposable gloves can remain thin and strong and have increased elasticity over cheaper alternatives, due to their high-quality raw material ingredients. A thinner glove with increased strength and elongation reduces unneeded stress from workers’ hands. Check out our Sensitive* Nitrile Gloves - a glove that doesn’t sacrifice performance.
Gloves should fit!4. Bulky & Uncomfortable
Gloves should fit. There shouldn’t be extra material hanging off your fingertips. They shouldn’t be so tight they are difficult to get on. In addition to frustration, ill-fitting gloves create food safety & medical situation risks. Gloves that are too large have excess material that can catch or snag resulting in glove pieces ending up in the product or patient. Similarly, thick gloves can also be extremely uncomfortable. See issue #3 for more information.
Ordering an appropriate variety of sizes allows every worker to find a glove that fits. Also, it is important for workers to understand how a glove should fit and the benefits of using a properly fitting glove versus just grabbing any size.5. Sweaty Hands
Nothing is more frustrating than hot, sweaty hands inside of disposable gloves and trying to work. Besides the huge food safety or infection control risk if the glove breaks, this can also lead to skin disorders.
For obvious reasons, disposable gloves are not “breathable", and not all disposable gloves perform equally. This issue differs from person to person, but gloves made with high-quality materials make a considerable difference in terms of reducing hand sweat.
Cost Vs Value
Eagle Protect guarantees the best value of disposable gloves and clothing you can buy – quality, competitively priced products that are responsibly sourced. We may not be the cheapest supplier, but we do offer the best value for your money.
WARNING: Be Wary Of “Cheap” Or Discounted Gloves
During the pandemic many new entrants, traders and brokers came into the PPE space with little or no experience and an intention to simply trade and make money. This has resulted in the glove market being flooded with counterfeit and reject quality gloves; even used gloves being repackaged and sold. As some Chinese factory prices start to decrease, many of these newer entrants and traders are bailing out of their poor quality junk gloves and dumping them into the food & medical market. Unfortunately, many of those affected by collateral damage are medical and food businesses who received the defective and dangerous gloves, risking medical and food safety procedures, organic certifications and recalls. The false economy of cheap gloves is always attractive to those looking for short-term cost savings, however, long-term these are a danger to consumers and business.
If you’re approached with “wholesale” or “discounted” prices for nitrile gloves, especially bulk purchases, these are likely to be poor quality and sourced from dealers unable to find a direct market. Pricing from reputable factories are predicted to reduce from around August, although in some cases these are negated by the skyrocketing national and international freight prices.
What Can You Do?!
Before putting your company and customers at risk by purchasing cheaper gloves, consider the following:
Is the glove supplier reputable, with a long history of glove sourcing and experience?
- Do they have an established website, including an established blog, published articles and social media platforms?
- Are testimonials and customer references available online?
Are online educational resources available online?
- Ask for factory audits and HACCP compliance certifications
Ensure you undergo a commercial trial of products prior to committing to purchasing. Any established and reputable company will happily send glove samples to trial.
- Be wary of vinyl /nitrile mixed gloves sold as nitrile - sample first before you buy
- If tempted to purchase vinyl gloves, first consider the food safety implications, glove wearer and environment implications of these.
More about Eagle Protect
Since our first B Corp™ certification in 2012, Eagle Protect continues to be the only Certified B Corporation™ in our industry. Additionally, our various supplier audits ensure our products are responsibly sourced with a fully transparent supply chain and the environmental and social impacts of production are assessed.
We are endeavouring to partner with businesses that care enough about their products, their reputation, their staff and their customers, by sourcing their disposable gloves and clothing responsibly.
Our products are competitively priced and are of the best quality available. Through our expertise and experience, we are a perfect match for your purpose.
Talk to our Eagle experts today, for more information about our quality and ethically sourced products, or to assist your selection of the PPE most suitable for your food or medical business needs.