There are four primary types of disposable gloves: latex, nitrile, neoprene/chloroprene, and vinyl. What are the different materials and characteristics of these gloves? Read on to find out.
Latex is a natural rubber sap that is secreted by rubber trees; when their bark is cut, the rubber sap is used to repair and heal the bark. Over the years, scientists have created formulas to achieve disposable gloves with premium strength, elasticity, tactile sensitivity, and durability. Due to the variety of proteins found in natural rubber, some users may experience skin irritation and allergic reactions, which can also affect other people these gloves come in contact with during use.
The natural rubber latex gloves are made from gives them their stretchability. Gloves made from latex are comfortable and will conform to the shape of your hands. Latex gloves are an excellent choice for your comfort and protection needs.
Nitrile butadiene rubber (nitrile for short) is a synthetic rubber that does not contain latex proteins and is generally resistant to oil, fuel, and other chemicals.
Nitrile gloves are more puncture resistant and stronger than natural rubber gloves but are not as strong as neoprene. Nitrile gloves are similar to latex gloves and can be a comparable option for those that have latex allergies. Nitrile gloves provide flexible and tactile wear while generally molding well to hands to provide a tight, second skin fit.
Neoprene/chloroprene is an organic compound and a type of synthetic rubber that, like nitrile, does not contain latex proteins. These gloves alleviate the potential for adverse reactions associated with proteins in natural rubber latex.
Chloroprene gloves are best known for their resistance to a variety of acids, chemicals, and other harsh substances. Because they are made from neoprene, they maintain their flexibility even when working with a wide range of temperatures.
Vinyl gloves are latex-free gloves that come in both thin and thick sizes. They do not stretch and are less comfortable than latex, but still provide better tactile sensitivity than neoprene. Vinyl gloves are ideal for quick usage but are not great for working with hazardous materials.
Another option with some disposable gloves is to purchase them with or without powder, which can make it easier to slip gloves on but isn’t the best choice for all applications. For example, powdered gloves should not be used in food preparation.
Though disposable gloves are helpful with many different tasks, they are not suited to all kinds of uses, and the materials they are made from are not always biodegradable. While natural rubber latex does degrade, gloves made from man-made materials like vinyl and nitrile take up space in landfills for a very long time.
For any problem, there are usually multiple solutions and people looking to improve upon those solutions by building a better mousetrap. When it comes to dealing with harmful organisms like germs and pathogens, existing solutions such as shoe covers and chemical baths may be less than ideal. For example, chemical baths need to be cleaned/maintained and can result in safety hazards with liquids being tracked around the facility. Enter HealthySole, a better mousetrap indeed!
What is HealthySole?
HealthySole is the missing solution to a truly disinfected environment. It is a groundbreaking active UVC light sanitizer that reduces contamination and infectious organisms with virtually no workflow interruption, monetary cost to operate or additional staff. HealthySole is the first clinically proven UVC product to kill up to 99.9% of exposed germs and pathogens, which can cause contamination and infections such as hospital acquired infections (HAIs), in only eight (8) seconds. In addition, it is a green technology that disinfects without harmful chemicals.
Why use HealthySole?
This revolutionary product is essential in the reduction of spreading all pathogens that travel on the soles of footwear and cause contamination and infections. By adding HealthySole to an existing infection control program (such as booties or dedicated shoes), the facility will decrease the overall microbial load starting with shoe and floor contamination. Further, it will add a significant active layer of defense that reduces the rate of airborne, horizontal and cross contamination and does not incur additional labor costs. Lowering the overall microbial burden in a healthcare facility can lead to a decrease in HAIs. Facilities that have positive performance standards by lowering HAIs will reduce the additional treatment cost that is otherwise passed to them, shorten length of stay for patients, and save lives.
HealthySole could also allow you to replace messy chemical baths, thereby eliminating safety issues involved with people slipping on the liquids that are tracked around the facility.
Where would you use HealthySole?
HealthySole was originally invented and designed for hospitals and other medical facilities. In addition to hospitals, industries that could use HealthySole include food processing, laboratory animal research, etc. Bottom line, you can use HealthySole almost anywhere you are concerned about controlling dangerous microorganisms.
The elevator conversation goes something like this: “We sell automatic shoe cover dispensers and shoe covers.” “Shoe covers?” “Yes, shoe covers or booties, like doctors wear.” “Oh yeah, hospital booties.” Other than hospitals, the usual suspects where shoe covers are used include pharmaceutical manufacturing, food processing, research and development, medical device manufacturing, etc. Less obvious applications include construction, real estate, and aerospace as well. Because most of us are not behind the scenes, we don’t realize there are dozens and dozens of industries where shoe booties are important. Here are three “off the beaten path” applications where disposable shoe covers are used:
Most often shoe booties are used in clean environments (for example, cleanrooms, laboratories, food processing facilities) where the intent is to keep outside contaminants from entering for reasons such as hygiene, food safety, product purity, testing results integrity, etc. Why would “dirty” industries (like your stereotypical manufacturing that is oily/greasy/otherwise messy) use them? The reason is that when employees or anyone else who has been in the dirty area comes into the clean office space for lunch, a quick meeting, or to exit the facility, they put on shoe covers in order to keep the area clean and to prolong the life of expensive flooring. A thick fabric bootie may do the trick, but a heavy duty shoe cover that will stand up to aggressive boot treads and keep dirty contaminants inside the shoe cover may be advisable.
Filming and photography
Location sets for filming and photography may involve exclusive homes and fragile surfaces that deserve protection from scuffs, scratches, and contamination. Also, companies may want to protect their green screens when people are walking or posing on them. Depending on the surface, a plastic shoe cover may be appropriate because it is waterproof and inexpensive. Another option that is also waterproof but has superior traction is the Super non-slip shoe cover, which is the go-to when slippery surfaces are involved.
Clean laundry doesn’t deserve to get dirty before it is put into use. No need to waste water and detergent for re-washing, right? Keeping large-scale laundry facilities clean is important in case the corner of a clean sheet or towel touches the ground, or a laundered uniform accidentally falls on the floor. A variety of types of shoe covers would work, perhaps a low cost fabric bootie.
Disposable shoe covers are ubiquitous and quite helpful in a wide variety of environments beyond the usual suspect applications. From military bases to national laboratories, child care facilities to parades of homes, energy production operations to battery manufacturers, shoe covers are a vital tool to keep environments clean and safe.
There are multiple methods for businesses and organizations to keep their facilities clean and minimize or prevent contamination from the wide variety of contaminants that exist on shoes. The four most prevalent options are shoe covers/booties (disposable or reusable), dedicated/facility shoes, sticky/tacky mats, and chemical baths. The relative pros and cons of these will be discussed in a future blog post. This blog post focuses on shoe covers and a revolutionary technology for putting them on and taking them off.
Shoe covers are essential in many applications for keeping environments clean and free from contamination. In some cases, you want to prevent whatever is on the floor from getting on your shoes. Other times you want or need to prevent contaminants on your shoes from getting on the floors in your environment for maintenance and sanitation, health and safety, infection control and other reasons. In the past people had to apply and remove their shoe covers manually, but this is time-consuming, can be dangerous, and is definitely not clean. Alternatively, many entities are now utilizing automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers to address these issues. Here are seven reasons why:
Speed: it’s faster
No bones about it, putting shoe covers on the old-fashioned way is time-consuming – the entire process, which includes grabbing a pair of shoe covers and finding a place to put them on, easily takes somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds each and every time. Removing them can take even longer, especially in an environment that requires more extensive hygiene practices. With Shoe Inn’s revolutionary automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers, the time is reduced to about five (5) seconds!
Efficiency = productivity = $$$
Applying shoe covers faster and more efficiently means employees can get to work faster. The Shoe Inn system makes the process of applying and removing shoe covers AT LEAST four times (4x) faster. This significantly shorter gowning time equals increased efficiency that translates to increased productivity, meaning you are not wasting money paying your employees to put on shoe covers but instead are paying them in their work environment where they are being productive. Cumulatively, these small time saving increments add up to big savings for your business!
Putting shoe covers on is easy for some people, a walk in the park. However, for others it can be a real challenge for a variety of legitimate reasons. Many, many times we’ve been told by people at tradeshows (with colorful, choice words) how much they despise, detest, even flat out refuse to put shoe covers on. Employ automatic shoe cover dispensers, which make it so much easier to put booties on, and those challenges and objections will vanish, thereby increasing compliance. Same goes for the remover, just at the back end of the process.
Automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers keep employees and visitors safer by reducing the risk of injuring themselves while putting shoe covers on and taking them off. Instead of bouncing around while attempting to balance on one foot and lifting the other leg, which we have dubbed the “bootie hop” (see The Bootie Hop video), people can safely apply and remove their shoe covers in an ergonomically friendly manner. The handlebars found on the Shoe Inn Stay dispenser and both ASCR removers make it even safer and easier. Say goodbye to those workers’ comp claims!
Putting shoe covers on and taking them off by hand is dirty business. Your shoes, particularly the bottoms, are gross – just think about everything you’ve stepped in and on while walking around streets, parking lots, subways, parks, trails, public bathrooms, etc. It is almost inevitable that you’re going to touch your shoes while putting shoe covers on manually and thus contaminate your hands. Depending on the environment, used shoe covers can be soiled as well so automatic shoe cover removers do the dirty work for you.
Save precious space
Oftentimes wherever shoe covers need to be put on and/or taken off, space is at a premium. Gowning benches and chairs take up space and can be obstructions. Shoe cover dispensers and removers take up much less space, especially proportionately when factoring in how much more efficient they are in facilitating people getting through the process. Fewer benches and chairs mean more space for other necessities.
Dressed to impress
Manually putting shoe covers on and taking them off is so old school. While there will always be a place for doing certain things the old-fashioned way, why not look professional and impress your customers, visitors, regulators, inspectors and auditors? In fact, you can customize your Shoe Inn dispensers and removers with your corporate logo, motto/slogan, contact information, etc. to further cement your brand.
USP <800>, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention’s new standard for handling hazardous drugs (HDs) in healthcare settings, includes significant safety standards for all healthcare workers, as well as patients and the general public, who have access to facilities where HDs are prepared. This includes pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, home health care workers, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians. Entities that store, transport, prepare, or administer HDs are also affected, including but not limited to pharmacies, hospitals, patient treatment clinics, physicians’ practice facilities, and veterinary clinics.
USP <800> provides facilities with direction on how to set policy and identify what needs to be done for employee safety while compounding and dispensing HDs. These new safety standards expand upon USP <797>, which focused primarily on minimizing the risk of contaminating medicines when compounding sterile IV preparations. USP <800>, on the other hand, is aimed primarily at addressing the entire life cycle of an HD so that all who might come in contact with it are protected.
USP <797> and <800> are related in that each refer to a chapter in the US Pharmacopoeia. USP <800> is not just limited to chemotherapy but also many drugs that now fall under the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) list. USP <800> has a minor component that currently falls under USP <797> this year but will become fully enforceable in December 2019 and will require full cleanroom and garbing precautions. USP <797> is under revision; therefore the current version will hold until at least the next year. This is the year the Joint Commission and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring compliance with USP <797>. Since this is the first year that the CMS plans to enforce the IV compounding regulations, most facilities are scrambling to meet compliance.
Health Effects Resulting from Exposure to Hazardous Drugs
Growing evidence, which has been accumulated over decades by the USP, Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, Oncology Nursing Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that occupational exposure to the more than 200 HDs commonly used in healthcare settings can cause acute and chronic health issues. In addition, over 100 studies have documented evidence of HD contamination in the workplace, including the presence of HDs in workers’ urine. With nearly 8,000,000 healthcare workers exposed to HDs each year, USP <800> aims to prevent associated acute and long-term health effects.
Required Upgrades Under USP <800> Include Shoe Covers
Personal protective equipment (PPE)(gowns; head, hair, and shoe covers; and two pairs of chemotherapy gloves) is required for compounding both sterile and non-sterile HDs, and two pairs of such gloves are required for administering antineoplastic HDs. Facilities also need to develop standard operating procedures regarding appropriate PPE for any workers who otherwise handle HDs.
Both USP <797> and <800> include several references to shoe covers as detailed below.
Compliant Shoe Covers + Automatic Shoe Cover Application and Removal
Appropriate personnel protective equipment (PPE) shall be worn when compounding in a BSC or CACI and when using CSTD devices. PPE should include gowns, face masks, eye protection, hair covers, shoe covers or dedicated shoes, double gloving with sterile chemo-type gloves, and compliance with manufacturers’ recommendations when using a CACI.
After donning dedicated shoes or shoe covers, head and facial hair covers, and face masks…
When compounding personnel exit the compounding area during a work shift, the exterior gown may be removed and retained in the compounding area if not visibly soiled, to be re-donned during that same work shift only. However, shoe covers, hair and facial hair covers, face masks/eye shields, and gloves shall be replaced with new ones before re-entering the compounding area, and proper hand hygiene shall be performed.
Appendix I: Order of compounding garb and cleansing in ante-area: shoes or shoe covers, head and facial hair covers, face mask, fingernail cleansing, hand and forearm washing and drying; non-shedding gown.
Appendix III: Dons shoe covers or designated clean-area shoes one at a time, placing the covered or designated shoe on clean side of the line of demarcation, as appropriate.
Appendix III: Removes shoe covers or shoes one at a time, ensuring that uncovered foot is placed on the dirty side of the line of demarcation and performs hand hygiene again. (Removes and discards shoe covers every time the compounding area is exited).
USP <800> references to shoe covers
Gowns, head, hair, shoe covers, and two pairs of chemotherapy gloves are required for compounding sterile and non-sterile HDs.
Head and hair covers (including beard and moustache, if applicable), shoe covers, and sleeve covers provide protection from contact with HD residue. When compounding HDs, a second pair of shoe covers must be donned before entering the C-SEC and doffed when exiting the C-SEC. Shoe covers worn in HD handling areas must not be worn to other areas to avoid spreading HD contamination and exposing other healthcare workers.
Hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, hospital injuries occurred at almost twice the rate for private industry as a whole in 2011. In terms of lost-time rates, it is more hazardous to work in a hospital than in manufacturing or construction.
Hospitals have unique risks (lifting/repositioning patients, needlesticks), slippery surfaces, and a variety of other hazards. Also, some caregivers feel it is their ethical duty to put their patients’ safety and health before their own.
For 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fully one quarter (25%) of all hospital caregiver injuries was from slips, trips and falls! Considering the slippery floors in hospitals and the body positioning and movements that caregivers employ in performing their jobs, this statistic is somewhat understandable. Injuries from slipping can impact employees’ ability to do their jobs, and result in decreased productivity, lost workdays, and expensive worker compensation claims.
Have you ever considered what is on the bottom of your shoes? Besides things you can see, such as grease, oil, gum, mud, leaves, feces, etc., there are the countless things you cannot see, like germs, bacteria, mold, and viruses. All of these things walk with us everywhere we go, from the house to the car to the parking lot to the building to the lab or production area to the bathroom to the dining area and back again. How many other places do we go, like gas stations and public parks, picking up things on our shoes all along the way and transporting them where they are unwelcome?
As a result, many industries and settings require the use of shoe covers to maintain sanitary or sterile conditions, prevent contamination, limit the spread of infections, comply with health codes, etc. A review of the literature turned up several key findings such as the following:
“In this study, the authors subjected six occupied rodent holding rooms in their animal research facility to three conditions: use of disinfectant mats; use of shoe covers; and no disinfectant mats or shoe covers. The authors took bacterial culture samples from the rooms under each condition. There was no significant difference in the mean number of colony forming units (CFUs) cultured when the disinfectant mats or shoe covers were used. However, the mean number of CFUs obtained was significantly lower when either disinfectant mats or shoe covers were used than when neither was used. These results suggest that using disinfectant mats or disposable shoe covers may reduce the bacterial load on rodent holding room floors.”
“We recommend that gloves and footwear worn by employees who handle RF-RTE foods or who work in areas where RF-RTE are processed or exposed be made of impermeable material, in good repair, easily cleanable or disposable (emphasis added), and used only in RF-RTE areas.”
“Health care workers who handle hazardous drugs are at risk of skin rashes, cancer and reproductive disorders. NIOSH recommends that employers provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers who handle hazardous drugs in the workplace…Use hair and shoe covers constructed of coated materials to reduce the possibility of particulate or microbial contamination in clean rooms and other sensitive areas.”
Based on the above, it is clear that using disposable shoe covers is a credible and recommended method in a variety of situations and controlled environments.
 Allen KP, Csida T, Leming J, Murray K, Thulin J. Efficacy of Footwear Disinfection and Shoe Cover Use in an Animal Research Facility, U.S. National Library of Medicine, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20305633
 US Food and Drug Administration, Guidance for Industry: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Refrigerated or Frozen Ready-To-Eat Foods, Section XI, Paragraph IV