WHAT DOES THE CE MARKING MEAN?

It does not mean quality. It does mean that the product meets certain essential requirements defined by a European Directive and that products with CE marking may be traded freely throughout the EEC.

SOME CE MARKING HAS NUMBERS. WHAT DOES THE NUMBERS MEAN?

In the case of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the numbers after the CE marking refer to a Notified Body, indicating that the product is complex design intended for protection against hazards that present a risk of mortal danger or irreversible harm.

WHAT DOES COMPLEX DESIGN MEAN?

The PPE Directive defines different categories of protective equipment. Simple design is equipment which protects against minimal risks; such as mild cleaning agents, temperatures up to 50°C; this type of PPE may be self certified by the manufacturer. Complex design describes equipment which protects against greater risks which could cause death or permanent injury such as; high temperatures, toxic chemicals, electrocution. Other protective equipment which is neither simple design or complex design is commonly known as intermediate design. Intermediate and complex design PPE must be Type Tested by a Notified Body.

HOW CAN WE BE SURE OF THE QUALITY OF PPE?

By checking that the PPE are produced by a company certified to ISO 9001. Complex design PPE only are subject either to monitoring by a Notified Body or ISO 9001 certification. The directive imposes no quality controls on simple or intermediate design PPE.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A EUROPEAN STANDARD AND THE PPE DIRECTIVE?

The PPE Directive is a piece of European Legislation which defines essential requirements for the product. The Directive relies upon the existence of European Standards to define specifications or performance levels for the products. The Directive is passed by the European Parliament and adopted into UK Law whereas the European Standard is prepared by a committee made up of various interested parties (including manufacturers, Health & Safety Specialists, Test & Certification Bodies) and represents a consensus of opinion reached by all parties.

WHAT DO PERFORMANCE LEVELS MEAN?

Performance levels are used in the application of European Standards to assess the level of performance of a glove during a specific test. They are designed to provide an end-user with a means of comparing the performance of different gloves so that they can make an informed selection of the glove most appropriate to their needs. However, it must be noted that the measurements are based on laboratory tests which are unable to simulate all of the conditions that a glove is likely to meet, and the end-user still has an obligation to check that the glove provides adequate protection in their application.

WHAT IS A NOTIFIED BODY?

It is an organisation which has been accredited for the evaluation of product compliance with European Directives. Some Notified Bodies also have their own test laboratories, which are used to Type Test produts according to relevant European Standards.

HOW DO I IDENTIFY THE RIGHT CHEMICAL RESISTANT GLOVE?

First, obtain a copy of the material safety data sheet for the chemical you are working with. This will tell you the main ingredients of the chemical. You may then refer to the manufacturers chemical resistance data which will report performance level for the chemicals. But note that the Standard for chemical protection, EN374, only tests permeation and does not include information about degradation. If you need help with interpretation of the data then contact the Technology Centre.

CAN NATURAL RUBBER GLOVES CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGIC REACTIONS?

It is now known that a significant number of people have developed an allergy to the protein which is present in natural rubber. Current estimates of the numbers of people in the general population are less than 1%, but a higher prevalence of allergy exists in certain work groups such as hairdressers and healthcare. In some cases the symptoms can be life threatening in that anaphylactic shock could occur. For those people who are diagnosed as allergic to natural rubber latex protein, then the solution is to avoid contact with natural rubber products. The industry has reacted to this problem, and Superglove natural rubber gloves are produced by new processes which lowers the levels of protein such that the risk of sensitisation is much reduced. Alternatively, Polyco has a range of synthetic rubber gloves which enable end-users to avoid contact with natural protein.

IS THE POWDER ON POWDERED GLOVES A HAZARD TO HEALTH?

No. The powder on disposable gloves is made from medical grade cornstarch which does not present a hazard to the wearer. The reason for concern over powder is that when used on a natural rubber glove, it can act as a carrier for latex protein. If powder is a major concern for your company, then powder-free disposable gloves are available.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURAL RUBBER AND SYNTHETIC RUBBER?

Natural rubber as the name suggests is a natural material obtained from the rubber tree, Hevea Brasiliensis; whereas synthetic rubber is made from petroleum based products. There are many different types of synthetic rubber; those most commonly used are nitrile rubber (or acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber to give the full name), polychloroprene (often referred to as Neoprene which is the tradename for Du Pont's polychloroprene), plasticised PVC (or vinyl) is often included in the list of synthetic rubbers. Others include butyl and Viton rubber. Each synthetic rubber has distinct chemical and physical properties. Although, natural rubber still retains its reputation for strength and comfort.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISO AND COUP CUT TEST METHODS?

The original method laid out in EN388 was the ‘coup’ method which involved 3 stages;

1. Against a control fabric (thick cotton)

2. Against the actual glove material being tested

3. Against the control fabric

The result of the glove material test (2nd test) is added to the average of the 2 control results then divided by the average of the 2 control results (1st and 3rd) and the cut index is obtained.

The downside to this test is this is that high performance cut resistant materials often contain glass or steel cores. These can blunt the blade making it very difficult to make a cut in the 2nd control fabric (3rd test). This makes the average of the 2 control tests higher, reducing the difference between that and the glove material test and also reducing the cut index i.e. the more cut resistant the glove, the lower the cut index can be.

This unsatisfactory position was resolved by the introduction of ISO13997 cut method. This works by determining the force (N) to make a 20mm cut in the glove. This is a direct evaluation of cut resistance against cut force.

 

THERE ARE A LOT OF GLOVES THAT CLAIM CUT LEVEL 5, DO THEY ALL OFFER THE SAME PROTECTION?

No. Both coup and ISO cut methods specify a minimum performance for level 5, but no maximum and there is nothing defined beyond that. In Polyco’s range, the ISO cut test was used on Blade Runner Stretch (>27N) and Metallica (around 130N), but they are both certified as cut level 5.

WHY DO SOME KNITTED GLOVES GET A PUNCTURE SCORE?

A knitted glove does not actually offer any puncture resistance unless it is coated or faced with leather or something similar. However during the EN388 puncture resistance test, if the point of the steel stylus catches on the weave of the glove, it will probably get a puncture score.

DOES A PUNCTURE SCORE MEAN THAT A GLOVE IS RESISTANT TO HYPODERMIC NEEDLES?

Absolutely not! The stylus used in the EN388 puncture test looks like a big nail. Hypodermic needles are totally different and penetrate material in a different way. The best way of looking at the EN388 puncture test is as a material burst strength test. Polyco offers a range of specialist puncture (syringe) resistant gloves.

WHAT IS DUAL MARKETING AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

These are the products that are CE marked as both PPE and medical devices and comply with both the PPE directive and medical devices directive. Finite P Indigo and Bodyguards Blue Nitrile 30cm GL891 are both dual marked.

WHAY DO SOME PRODUCTS HAVE A SHELF LIFE AND OTHERS DON'T?

It is a requirement for medical devices such as examination and surgical gloves to carry shelf life information while electricians gloves of classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 have to be re-tested every 6 months.

DOES VINYL OR NITRILE CONTAIN LATEX?

No, Vinyl is a synthetic plastic derived from oil, and nitrile is a synthetic rubber - neither contain (natural rubber) latex.

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