Nitrile Glove Colors: Do They Matter?
Recently, you may have noticed disposable gloves have started to come in a range of colors. Today, you can find police officers, lab workers and various other professionals wearing different colored gloves ranging from traditional white and light blue to black and purple. When ordering your personal protective equipment (PPE) for today’s work environment, you’ll want to consider what different colored gloves mean and whether you should purchase a certain color.
Do Nitrile and Latex Glove Colors Mean Anything?
There are no industry standards for different colored disposable gloves, so colored gloves generally don’t mean anything. That said, you can sometimes tell a glove’s material based on its color, helping to keep processes streamlined and organized. Some colored gloves also serve specific purposes in certain situations.
Traditionally, the latex glove colors in a medical setting are white and blue, with light blue indicating non-latex gloves. Many people are allergic to latex, so an easy way to differentiate between latex and non-latex is by utilizing colored medical gloves. This way, workers can simply grab a pair of blue gloves when working with a patient who’s allergic, speeding up the process of treating the patient.
In other industries, colored gloves serve their own purposes. For example, you might consider asking your food service employees to wear colorful disposable gloves at different prep stations to help prevent cross-contamination. Alternatively, mechanics often use dark-colored nitrile gloves to help protect their hands while covering the dirt and grease. Likewise, bright disposable gloves are popular to help people see their hands in dimly lit areas or work environments.
Why Do Healthcare Workers Use Colored Medical Gloves?
Typically, healthcare workers wear different colored gloves to distinguish the types of gloves they’re wearing. However, colored gloves in the medical field can serve other purposes. In fact, different colored gloves often have to do with a shift toward a more personalized patient experience.
For many doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, patient perception has become an important concern. Some healthcare workers are moving away from white or blue gloves to royal blue or purple-colored latex or nitrile gloves to help convey a warmer feel and more positive experience for their patients. Research has shown that particular colors used in medical settings evoke emotions in patients — older individuals dislike blue, while younger people dislike white.
Furthermore, many healthcare professionals practice double-gloving, and colorful medical gloves are helpful for them. As its name suggests, double gloving is wearing two pairs of gloves on your hands at the same time. Donning two different colors helps workers easily detect when the top pair has been ripped or torn. That’s crucial information to know to help prevent the spread of contamination.
Why Industries Wear Different Colored Gloves
There are many uses for colored gloves, no matter your profession. While colored latex or nitrile disposable gloves don’t always mean something, they do serve a purpose. Here are several reasons why you might want to wear dark, light or brightly colored gloves at work.
These gloves help various professionals, such as police officers and postal workers, detect light powdery substances on their hands, protecting them from potential contamination. In this line of work, it’s possible to come into contact with dangerous substances such as drugs or other illicit substances. Thanks to dark gloves, they can see when they’ve touched something of that nature.
Additionally, dark-colored gloves are useful if you’d like to hide the dirt and grease on your hands. For example, automotive professionals might use dark-colored gloves in black or gray to disguise the dirt and grease that stains their hands, rather than wearing oil-stained white gloves.
Alternatively, light-colored gloves are useful for detecting contaminants and other hazardous materials that have a color. Both food service and healthcare workers utilize light gloves to help them prevent cross-contamination. The light colors work great for detecting fluids and other potentially hazardous materials. When color-coding with light gloves, you can ensure everyone stays safe.
Shades such as orange or red are helpful when you’re working in dim environments. Just as mechanics use dark-colored gloves to hide dirt and grease, they also use vivid-colored gloves to help them see when they’re working in the dark parts of their workshops.
On the other hand, bright-colored disposable gloves can also help you clearly differentiate types of employees. Many industrial food packaging or processing plants and medical labs will designate employees using glove colors.
Do Glove Colors Come Down to Preference?
Depending on your needs, choosing the glove color that’s right for you and your employees is a matter of preference. Ultimately, colored latex and nitrile gloves are only useful if they provide you with the necessary PPE. There are a couple of quality indicators, such as tensile strength and acceptable quality level (AQL), that you need to consider when choosing the colored gloves that are best for you or your employees.
The tensile strength describes how well a glove can resist tearing or ripping when pulled and stretched. This stress indicator is important to ensure your gloves don’t snap easily under stress. Keep in mind that particularly strong gloves can sometimes be too thick, which prevents mobility and breathability. It’s smart to choose gloves that provide specific benefits for your applications.
The AQL of PPE gloves refers to a statistical measure of defective units per batch. When PPE gloves are produced, the manufacturer tests their batches of gloves to ensure quality and consistency across their product. Since AQL measures this consistency, a lower number is better — you want a smaller number of defective units per batch.
All that being said, you should always prioritize the quality of your gloves over the color to ensure they keep the wearer and others safe.
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