Given the many uses for surgical gloves, they must undergo rigorous inspection before they are ready for sale. In the automotive, janitorial-sanitation and agricultural industries, workers deal with a number of harsh chemicals. Therefore, surgical gloves they wear must be proven to provide the right amount of protection. The same is true for medical applications, where employees need a safe barrier against pathogens.
As such, manufacturers use extensive testing to determine which applications a surgical glove is appropriate for, with gloves having higher standards.
Standards for minimum quality
Glove inspection is based on Acceptable Quality Limits (AQL). For this product, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets this standard. And the testing methods for AQL are from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). A firm that creates standards for various industries across the world.
AQL is a method that applies to batches of gloves and functions as a percentage. For example, in a batch of 100 gloves with an AQL of 3.0, only three gloves in the batch can fail the test. If more than three surgical gloves fail, the entire batch does not meet the standard. In this case, manufacturers will review the manufacturing process to determine what requires adjustment.
Testing methods for gloves
Surgical love quality testing involves various inspections. A defined number of gloves from a production batch are selected and tested for water-tightness (detection of holes) which is determined by a leak test. In the test, the gloves are filled with 1000ml of water and then observed for a defined time period. The test is considered passed when no water leaks from the glove, proving that it has no holes. This is because even the smallest breach in the glove material permits wearers from exposure to pathogens. Surgical gloves that do not have leaks during the testing period are acceptable for medical applications.
One interesting fact about disposable glove testing and AQL is manufacturers typically produce surgical and industrial-grade gloves on the same line. Although industrial-grade gloves also pass all standard quality testing by the manufacturer, they do not need to undergo testing for medical purposes. This is not to say industrial-grade gloves are not of safe quality, but it is simply a cost-efficient way for manufacturers to produce both types of gloves while providing the appropriate level of quality.
Hopefully this short article will help you understand the basics of the glove world. You also know what to look out for when choosing your supplier or brand. In simple terms, when choosing a supplier and brand for your surgical gloves, the most important thing to remember is that the lower the AQL number, the greater the amount of the protection you will have for your hands. However, the downside is that the lower the AQL, then the higher the price will be. This because the quality & manufacturing costs are considerably higher. And we all know that quality costs more, and surgical gloves are no exception.