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A Guide to Glove Safety: EN 455

12 August 2015

If you're using a glove for medical purposes, it's crucial to know whether they are up to scratch. But with so many gloves out there, how do you find the best for your specific needs? With EN 455 you have an easier way to compare your single use medical gloves and know that they have been found up to the task.

En 455: Medical Gloves for Single Use

While the safety our PPE offers creates an overall better, safer working environment, the immediate effects for the majority of our gloves are fairly user-centred. Medical gloves go two ways, not only keeping doctors, vets or first aiders safe from bodily fluids, chemicals or bacteria, but also keeping their patients safe from infection; not bad for such affordable gloves. Don’t be fooled into thinking any pair of latex gloves is good enough to play doctor in, though, EN 455 is as vigorous test as any of the seemingly ‘tougher’ standards, to make sure their accredited PPE can save hands from contamination and even help save lives.

Freedom from Leaks

The last thing anyone wants is for the gloves their medical provider is wearing to suddenly spring a leak, tests use a simple but effective method to test each batch by simply filling it with water. If the glove can hold the liquid with no leaks or pinholes it has safely passed part 1 and you rest assured that neither you nor your doc are going to suffer from unsafe gloves riddled with holes.

Physical Testing

Sure, it’s just a thin layer of rubber, but medical gloves need to be stronger than you realise. They need to provide a skin-tight fit that is free from friction that also allows handling tools too. Consider how many medical tools are grooved and textured for good grip – or think of how many marigolds or latex gloves you’ve inadvertently shoved a fist through when pulling them on - and it’s quite a challenge to perfect a glove tough enough to grasp perfectly without snagging or tearing on an uneven surface. Tests for durability depend on the glove’s end use and its materials, with surgical gloves requiring higher pass rates than examination gloves. The withstood force needed to pass is outlined in the table below:

  Surgical Gloves Gloves made of rubbers (e.g. Latex) Gloves made of Thermoplastics (e.g. Vinyl)
Force Needed to Break (Newtons) 9.0 6.0 3.6

Biological Evaluation

Not many people stop to consider that the gloves their doctors use might even be harmful, thankfully EN Standard Tests has it covered. The materials used to make the glove must be proven to not harm the wearer or the patient either as an immediate allergic reaction or as a trigger for a slower presenting condition like fever. Hazardous materials tested for include:

Chemical Residues: Used as part of the gloves manufacturing, these chemicals might aid the making process but they might end up with you needing first aid after an allergic reaction.

Powder: Powdered gloves are less popular in hospitals due the belief that they decelerate the healing process. Standard tests still allow for powdered gloves, but to a precise level to ensure safety.

Latex proteins: As a fairly common allergen, latex proteins and enzymes are not permitted under this standard due to the severe allergic reaction they can cause.

Endotoxins: Left by bacteria that can cause illnesses such as fever.

Determination of Shelf Life

The final part of the test ensures that gloves will not degrade in performance while stored in warehouses or awaiting use in its end destination. EN 455 gloves can only ever have an end date that is 5 years from their manufacturing date or below. After this, their performance may be compromised, as will your safety, this is why you will often see latex gloves with best-before dates stated on their packaging. 

Just What The Doctor Ordered

We don’t suspect you to be performing surgery at home, but if your first aid kit is in need of some disposable gloves, don’t settle for a cheap alternative that merely looks the part, buy gloves you can be certain will keep you and any injuries completely safe and protected. With our range of quality gloves packaged in convenient quantities and offering fantastic value, there’s no reason for you to put your safety or your health at risk.

Visit Safety Gloves for our full range of EN 455 Gloves.