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Have you ever seen PPE labeled as “chemical-resistant” or “chemical safety gloves” and thought that they meant the same thing? If you’re cleaning the bathtub at home, the distinction between the two terms probably isn’t that big of a deal. But, in the workplace, there are a number of different chemicals that workers might come in contact with. That’s why chemical-resistant gloves come in several styles and a few different materials: they’re specifically designed to protect your hard-working hands against these types of dangerous hazards.
The definition of a chemical varies, too. If you ask Merriam-Webster, it’s a substance made by a chemical process. (Well that clears things up, doesn’t it?) But if you ask OSHA, it’s “any element, chemical compound, or mixture of elements and/or compounds.” While OHSA is not much clearer on the definition, this demonstrates just how many different substances might be considered as chemicals.
Fortunately, we’ve got the right PPE to protect your hands against whatever hazard comes your way in the workplace. Now, it’s just a matter of narrowing down your choices and selecting the work glove that’s right for your needs.
There are many different types of chemical-resistant gloves on the market. Typically, they are made of materials like latex, nitrile, PVC, neoprene, butyl, and viton-butyl — or even a combination of the above. Depending on the severity of the chemical hazard and the industry you’re working in, certain chemical-resistant gloves are more suitable than others.
That’s why it’s important to learn about the pros and cons of each of the different materials. Let’s take a look at the crucial distinctions between them.
Often, latex gets a bad rap. However, in reality, latex is beneficial for a variety of different applications, including laboratory use, food handling, chemical plants, janitorial work, agriculture, pharmaceutical and other industries. Some styles are even available in short or longer lengths — including our Latex Chemstop™ embossed palm glove with flocked lining, pictured above.
While latex is flexible, stretchy and durable, it doesn’t offer much protection against punctures or cuts. This is something crucial to keep in mind if you’re looking for a glove that’ll provide you with reliable protection against both cuts and chemicals.
If cuts are not a concern for you, however, latex might be a great choice! It resists nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, methanol, and many other chemicals, including:
According to Berkeley University, latex also protects against biological and water-based materials. As you can see, latex can be an extremely advantageous material for those who require hand protection against chemical hazards.
When it comes to latex, however, the primary downside is the potential for allergic reaction. For this reason, people who are allergic to latex should choose chemical-resistant gloves that are made from another material.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, packs several different punches into one glove. For example, our Double-Dipped PVC Chemstop™ glove (pictured above) combines soft jersey with a PVC dipped coating that stays flexible and resists punctures — all while providing a great grip. For this reason, they’re great for commercial fishing, maintenance, mining, fuel oil, mechanic work, construction, and petrochemicals.
PVC is an excellent choice for many workplaces, since it resists several chemicals — including ammonium hydroxide, benzylic alcohol, boric acid, creosote, fluorides, silicates and diluted sulphuric acid. PVC will also protect your hands from the following:
According to Berkeley, PVC chemical-resistant gloves will keep you protected from acids, bases, amines, peroxides, and fats. However, while PVC gloves are fantastic for many different industries, unfortunately, PVC is not what we’d recommend if you’re specifically looking for protection against certain organic solvents or if you’re working in a workplace with high-heat temperatures, since it offers poor heat resistance.
Nitrile gloves offer a broad range of protection against different hazards. It’s also advantageous since it doesn’t trigger latex allergies, and it resists punctures. And, if a puncture or break does happen to occur, Berkeley explains that it’s easier to spot it in a nitrile glove than in some other materials.
As well, nitrile also resists solvents, grease, certain acids and bases, and oils. Nitrile gloves would also be a fantastic choice if you’re going to be working with any of the following chemicals:
Since it guards against a number of hazards and won’t cause allergic reaction, nitrile is one of the most popular materials for chemical-resistant gloves. However, unfortunately, protection against chemical hazards doesn’t come in one neat, tidy package: the type of chemical-resistant glove you need will depend on which chemicals or chemical compounds you’re handling, and which other hazards (such as punctures) are present in your workplace. It’s best to consider all of the factors before you make your decision: trust us, it’ll make you much more likely to choose the right glove!
Looking for a reliable pair of chemical-resistant gloves that’ll keep your hands protected against a number of different chemicals — even in freezing weather conditions? Why not try our N230CR: North Sea™ Chemical and Cold-Resistant Nitrile Gloves? They offer good puncture and abrasion resistance, and will protect your hands against oils, fuels, and many different organic solvents.
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Hand Injury Rates are Reduced by 60% when using the right gloves.