What Do
Nitrile Gloves
Protect Against?

  • 6 minute read
  • 14 February, 2020
  • Donald Gillespie

Choosing the right glove for the workplace can be a little overwhelming, given the number of options available. However, if you’re looking for a robust, puncture-resistant glove which protects against a range of hazardous chemicals, nitrile gloves are an excellent choice. 

Understanding the kinds of materials and potential hazards that nitrile gloves safeguard against, as well as the different nitrile options available, can help you to make the best choice. 

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What are nitrile gloves and how are they tested?

Unlike other glove varieties, disposable nitrile gloves are manufactured using a synthetic rubber compound which is free from protein, does not contain latex, and is resistant to a range of chemicals and abrasive materials.

All protective gloves are tested and graded based on several European standards:

  • EN374: Gloves tested to this standard and certified as such will withstand at least 10 minutes of contact with certain chemicals. Their suitability is tested according to penetration time, degradation level, and permeation rate.

  • EN1186: Gloves tested under EN1186 are deemed safe for contact with food.

  • EN420: All protective gloves must comply with general PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) regulations.

Selecting the right glove for a working environment means understanding the testing standards and ratings that each glove product is subject to. For example, while some gloves are deemed suitable for use in food processing and meet general health and safety standards – such as those that comply with EN1186 - they may not be suitably chemical resistant (according to EN ISO 374) or provide protection from micro-organisms.

Note: Removing gloves immediately after contamination is important, no matter which type of glove is being used.


What do nitrile gloves protect against?

Workers in almost any field can come into contact with hazards. Whether preparing food, working in manufacturing, handling electronics, or working in healthcare, protective gloves play an essential role in risk management. Wearing the appropriate protective glove can protect workers against irritation to the skin, prevent infection, and reduce the risk of burns, cuts and abrasions. What’s more, nitrile gloves also protect the materials (such as electronics, glass and metal) as well as the other people that workers may encounter.

Mechanic wearing black nitrile gloves to repair a car engine made by Unigloves

Determining the exact chemicals, irritants or other potentially hazardous materials that workers will come across requires proper risk assessment and management to be carried out. This will help to determine the appropriate disposable safety glove for use, depending on the industry, workplace and task in question.

Some of the chemicals which Unigloves nitrile gloves can protect against, according to the EN374 testing standards include:

      • Acetic acid 10%
      • Benzalkonium chloride
      • Chlorhexidine digluconate 4%
      • Ethanol 20%
      • Formaldehyde 15%
      • Formadehyde 37%
      • Glutaraldehyde 50%
      • Hydrogen peroxide 30%
      • Nitric acid 10%
      • Nitric acid 36%
      • Paraformaldehyde 50%
      • Phenol 1%
      • Povidone iodine 10%
      • Sodium hydroxide 40%
      • Sulphuric acid 47%

Nitrile gloves are also suitable for protection against micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungus, and viruses, making them an extremely versatile protective glove.


Mechanic wearing white nitrile gloves to repair a car engine made by Unigloves


Why choose nitrile gloves?

Avoiding injury or exposure to hazardous materials are not the only factors to consider when it comes to choosing the correct glove. The fit, durability and flexibility of the glove are also incredibly important in ensuring that works can be carried out effectively by the wearer. But with so many options available, how is it possible to choose the right type of glove? To make this decision, it helps to understand the major differences between the three most common glove materials: Latex, vinyl and nitrile.  

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Latex gloves

Latex gloves, made from natural rubber, are traditionally preferred by those working in medical fields, where a high degree of flexibility and sensitivity is required. However, latex allergies, which affect up to 6% of the population, can cause irritation and rashes, and in more severe cases, anaphylaxis and respiratory issues. This is true for both the wearer and those they come into contact with.

Vinyl gloves

Vinyl gloves are a less costly option than nitrile and latex gloves, on a per-glove basis. These types of gloves are generally preferred in industries such as food processing, where durability and protection are less critical factors. However, they are not approved for use with fatty foods which makes their use somewhat questionable. Although vinyl gloves are latex-free, they provide less of a skin-tight fit, don’t offer protection against many common hazardous materials, and aren’t particularly puncture-resistant. As they need to be replaced much more regularly than other glove varieties, they can also become more costly in the long term.

Nitrile gloves

Nitrile gloves offer not only a superior level of protection against certain oil-based chemicals, but they are also highly puncture-resistant, versatile and robust. Despite common misconceptions that latex gloves provide better sensitivity and dexterity, Unigloves nitrile gloves, such as our Zero gloves, offer a form-fitting comfort, moulding to the hand for increased sensitivity. This means they’re better suited for sustained wear, as well as being suitable for use in high-risk environments involving contact with hazardous or abrasive materials.

Nitrile gloves from Unigloves are offered in coloured varieties, including blue, black, orange and purple. Colour-coding of gloves helps users to manage risk and avoid contamination by allocating certain colours to specific tasks (for example, using one colour for raw food handling and another for ready-to-eat foods). Nitrile gloves tested to EN1186 are also safe for contact with all food types, making them suitable for use throughout the food processing industry.

Unigloves’ nitrile glove ranges also include anti-static varieties (preferred for those working with electronic components), powder-free options, and gloves designed with textured finger grips for increased dexterity.


What industries are nitrile gloves suitable for?

The superior quality of nitrile gloves makes them a popular choice for industries where workers are likely to come into contact with hazards like chemicals and abrasive materials, as well as for those which involve contact with food, or where extended use is required.


Doctors wearing Unigloves nitrile gloves to perform medical surgery


In some sectors, cheaper disposable gloves such as vinyl gloves, have been historically favoured. However, due to the sustainability and dexterity offered by nitrile gloves, an investment in this type of protective glove can lead to increased usage times and fewer replacements due to breakages; making nitrile gloves a worthwhile investment for many workplaces.

Some of the industries which benefit from the use of nitrile gloves include:

      • Aerospace
      • Chemical manufacturing
      • Dentistry and hygiene
      • Food processing
      • Engineering
      • Electronics
      • Healthcare
      • Laboratory work
      • Printing
      • Manufacturing and assembly
      • Pharmaceutical


Popular nitrile glove products

When purchasing gloves for any given working environment, considerations must be made for health and safety standards, budget factors, and the changing needs of workers. This can make choosing the right glove a complex process. The Unigloves range is designed and manufactured with specific industry requirements in mind, to make purchasing and using gloves as straightforward as possible.


A medical professional administering a cosmetic surgery injection wearing Unigloves nitrile gloves.


Our nitrile gloves ranges are continuously evolving to suit the rapidly shifting needs of each of the industries we cater to; which means that no matter the work environment, we have a solution. Nitrile gloves have become a popular choice across all industries, as they are now more durable, comfortable and flexible than ever before. Some of our most popular nitrile glove products include:

Unigloves Stronghold Nitrile Gloves BoxStronghold | GM006: These gloves are chemotherapy drug tested, medical grade, heavy weight and exceed medical standards for pinholes having an AQL of 0.65. The textured palms offer improved grip, particularly when working in wet or oily conditions. These gloves are preferred for use in engineering, chemical manufacturing, and laboratory work.

Unigloves Zero Nitrile Gloves BoxZero | GM005: Zinc, sulphur and accelerator-free gloves which are also anti-static and medical grade. These medium weight gloves reduce the risk of Type I and Type IV allergic reactions and feature textured finger grips and are preferred in a range of industries including dentistry and hygiene, engineering, food processing and more. Their unique formulation provides a glove that while latex free, has the same stretch, feel and comfort as a latex glove.

PUnigloves PRO.TECT Black Nitrile Gloves BoxRO.TECT Black | GA004: These black, heavy-weight gloves are silicone-free and leave no marks or residue on glass or metal surfaces. The ambidextrous fit means there is no need to replace an entire set of gloves when a single puncture occurs. These gloves are preferred in automotive, painting and manufacturing sectors.

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