The Wash Podcast: A Discussion with Gloving Expert Steve Ardagh

Welcome to The Wash, your trusted resource for the latest and greatest in public health and hygiene, where we will tackle topics like hand hygiene, best practices in footwear sanitization, creating an employee hygiene program, and more!

In this week's episode, we invite Paul Barnhill, the Chief Technology Officer and head engineer here at Meritech, and Steve Ardagh, founder of Eagle Protect to discuss gloving. Partnering to advance hygiene and food safety, Eagle Protect and Meritech contributed their particular expertise to create this podcast intended to share and strengthen hand hygiene practices and disposable glove selection and management. There is quite a bit of misinformation out there so we hope to debunk those myths and provide some clarity around the subject.

In addition to our collaboration on this podcast, we have co-authored an incredibly valuable eBook: Gloving 101. This piece of literature will provide further insight into the topics discussed in this episode!

Learn More About Gloving

You can listen to the podcast using the media player or read the podcast transcript below:

Gloving Podcast Transcript:

Joe: Hello and thank you for joining us for another episode of the wash, your trusted resource for the latest in public health and hygiene. This podcast is brought to you by Meritech the leader in automated hygiene technology. And was created in collaboration with Eagle Protect, a specialty glove, supplier, and leader and glove related research. I'm your host today Joe Johnson and I'm joined by Paul Barnhill, the chief technology officer and head engineer here at Meritech, and Steve Ardagh, founder of Eagle Protect. Thanks for joining us Paul and Steve!

Today we're going to talk about gloves. There's quite a bit of misinformation out there so we hope to debunk those myths and provide some clarity around the subject.

So, Steve, before we get started, I was hoping you could tell us a little bit more about yourself and Eagle protect.

Steve: Yeah, sure, as long as you've got 30 or 40 minutes, that's fine. Thanks for the opportunity, Joe and Meritech. And we started in New Zealand in 2006, servicing the food industry there with disposable gloves and clothing. And New Zealand is seen as one of the leaders in food safety around the world, so it was a good stomping ground to sort of learn our trade.

We moved to the States in 2016 and our vision here is literally to save the US food industry one glove at a time. We found in many cases; they're using products that are probably not best suited for the areas that are using them. there's not a lot of help from the industry in terms of food safety and proper process.

So, that was us. And so, we've been growing ever since, and we've got some great customers here in the likes of Costco, and JBS Meats, Kaggle meats and all those sorts of guys. So, we're really enjoying our time here, and obviously just at the moment, glove and hand hygiene is very big focus for everybody.

Joe: Great. Thanks for that intro, Steve. so I think the best way to start this conversation is to discuss glove use cases.  what industries are gloving right now, and what other industries do you think maybe we need to focus more on gloving.

Steve: Yeah, it's sort of everybody's pretty well gloving at the moment. I guess, and we'll probably talk about that a little bit more later, but I mean, there's three main industries that we look into if you like this medical food and industrial in terms of gloves.

Medical is obvious. So, there's the surgical sterile gloves, which we don't operate in. Medical examination grade gloves, which we service in New Zealand, and to dental and medical centers, aged care.

And food in New Zealand and the US is a huge user, right for retail, ready to eat, food processing. Primary food processing in the form of dairy, meat, seafood, and so on.

And then industrial, which is basically everything else from your engineers, probably to the guys who are making your machines and these sorts of guys wearing various types of gloves. And there is a myriad of gloves, I mean, there's millions of them. I guess one of the things based on that, sort of those three medical, food and industrial, there's only one area there that has a certification, a real certification, that's medical.

There's no such thing as a food grade glove. That's something that's been made up by the industry. There is a food compliance by the FDA, which we can talk about in more detail, but there's really just medical and other, in terms of, of the types of gloves that have been used, we, all our gloves are examination grade gloves.

Because we believe that gloves that are used to prevent foodborne illness should be the same quality and standard as the gloves that would treat it. So, we just go for the medical grade gloves for the food industry.

Joe: So, do you expect, aside from those main three, do you expect to other industries to continue with their adoption of gloving because of the pandemic?

Steve: Yeah, definitely. We've had requests from every, and you can imagine at the moment in terms of glove use, retail is going to be a big area and not just food retail, but retail of almost anything. Anywhere where people are coming in contact with each other or surfaces. But I guess as people sort of get to know the pandemic a little bit in more detail and deciding whether it's more surface orientated or aerosol orientated may change the usage patterns. We're getting calls from everybody from aged care through to clothing retail, obviously food, cleaners, just all sorts of people. Anyone who comes into contact with any outside surface or other people, I guess really.

So that's interesting because one of the challenges we have is, and it's the medical industry as well is suffering from this with the masks is that we don't want people who don't need really good nitrile gloves, for example, using up the stock that should be being used by food industry or medical. And so, there's a few challenges around that and supply. And we're sort of trying to work our way through that by offering different choices for different situations

Joe: So, in these industries that are gloving, what are the most common mistakes that are typically being made in that process?

Steve: Traditionally the biggest mistake, or maybe mistake is probably too strong a word, but the biggest thing that's overlooked is glove choice. Often people just think a glove is a glove, and anything will do. And it's not true. It's a technical tool of trade. If you ask someone who works at a meat processing plant who wears a glove for eight hours a day, they'll tell the difference between a good and bad glove instantly, same with retail.

So, we just tell people, for example, choose depending on the situation. How long they're going to use it? What sort of process they're undertaking, is it heavy work, light work? Does it need a real tactile sensitivity? That sort of thing. We help them choose the best glove.

And then there's the typical things: putting gloves on. Often if it's not done properly, they can contaminate the glove with their dirty hands if they're not washed properly, or if they're touching surfaces. Some people will carry around gloves in their pockets and then put them on when they're needed, which is obviously bad. People often use gloves too long.

Any glove at all will degrade over time, just like anything that's been used and flexed. So, there's lots of those sorts of things. And then taking the gloves off is another big one that you can contaminate your hands again as you take the glove off and potentially contaminate surfaces or the next glove. Those are the main areas.

Joe: So, we talked about this briefly, but I've been seeing a lot of people wearing gloves during regular day to day activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. And I saw someone recently in the park eating out of a bag of chips with a pair of gloves on. So Paul, I was wondering if you could clarify for people that their gloved hands can still become contaminated just like hands without gloves, correct?

Paul: You're absolutely correct, Joe. And I think Steve was very clear in kind of a couple of points that he made. Yes. A glove can be contaminated just from the same touch surfaces. It can be contaminated both during the donning and doffing periods  so yeah, a glove can be, I mean, yeah, you see those individuals with the current situations that were going on around the world using gloves, using them too long, as Steve had mentioned, reusing gloves, which is a really terrible practice, regardless of what you're in.

 You can also sanitize a glove. I mean, that's a very easy process and that's actually not a very uncommon process that you see in food manufacturing industry. So that is very common. You'll see in other places as well. But then sanitizing glove after donning that glove.

Joe: Could you elaborate a little bit more on sanitizing gloves? Is there any things people need to be aware of in terms the chemicals that's used in sanitizers associated with certain types of gloves?

Paul: Absolutely. There are certain glove materials that can actually degrade in time depending on overuse of certain type of chemicals, you know, certain high concentrations of Quat sanitizers can sometimes break down certain rubbers and plastics as well. A lot of times people are using, when they're sanitizing a glove, they're actually using, some form of an alcohol or an IPA product that's really effective. It's efficient at cleaning the glove, it will dry quickly and so forth as well as other ways you can. We do have, in our industry at Meritech, we have many customers, you know, after they've gone through that donning part of the glove, they'll actually go back through the CleanTech® systems.

And use the automated hand-washing systems to actually further sanitize that glove in an automated process. So, depends on kind of what that industry is and how is that glove being used. Because there's lots of different ways you can use a glove and lots of different needs depending on what your people place in products are being dealt with.

Joe: So, Paul, this is a question that's asked often, but does gloving remove the need for handwashing?

Paul: The answer is no. You really have to start with a clean hand. And that's really important. So, you know, in time and in use and you know, gloves will break down.

When you don a glove it now becomes a little bit of a warm, moist environment. And this is really just a breeding ground for additional pathogens. So, by doing a proper hand hygiene event, we're able to naturally lower both the resident and transient floras on the hand, keeping the hands clean and doing that process before donning gloves is incredibly important.

In fact, not only just washing the hands before, but there's a critical step in there as well. And that's in the drying portion of it. One of the things that we get asked a lot is like, “Oh yeah, we're going to go through this step and we're going to wash and now we're going to dry and we're going to use this air dryer.”

I highly recommend not using air dryers when you have to go into a gloving operation because you're unfortunately not able to get the hand dry enough. And then it becomes a very difficult time donning a glove if your hand is somewhat moist.

Joe: It's mentioned on y’alls website, I was doing a little reading, and there was a blog article that was talking about how gloves act as a “liquid bridge” for pathogens when they're not properly washed prior to donning gloves, could you elaborate more on what that liquid bridge is?

Steve: Yeah that's one of our favorite subjects. We've got a great photo of a guy preparing a hamburger and he's just putting in the piece sticking the top to hold it all together and he's got this dripping sweaty hand.

That's just the, it's a wonderful picture. We talk about the liquid bridge or the glove juice, and then so the, the person's wearing the glove and often the poor quality gloves will create more sweat and moisture than other gloves, particularly vinyl, PVC gloves, and then you get a rip or a tear, and we have this beautiful vomit of glove juice that goes all over the food.  

So, it's just a real risk and it's just, if everything else it's just not attractive to look at, but it's just not real food safety.  And there's, there's lots of ways of sort of getting around that. One is not using the gloves too long, making sure you're using the right glove.

And a comment we get often is when we give people our gloves and because they'd been made from a really good material and they're not aggravating the skin; they just don't sweat as much. So, I think getting the right good quality glove makes a huge difference as well to the glove juice problem.

Joe: With the need for hand washing prior to gloving what's the best way to organize your hygiene zone to avoid cross-contamination when you're gloving?

Paul: That's actually a really, really good question. And one of the first things you have to really understand when it comes to hygienic zoning, you really have to follow what we call, "The Three P's", the people, the place, and the products. You really have to understand that to fully understand the entire picture of hygiene and how you design that hygienic zoning.

You know, we'll call it from the 10,000-foot level of what you're looking at is obviously when you're first coming in, you want to be donning you know, your frocks and smocks or whatever you're doing for your outerwear.

Obviously, the beginning of that, you'll deal with your, your footwear, hairnets and your normal PPE. You go then through the hand hygiene event and that's either going to be in a manual, traditional method following those guidelines, or in our case, doing a fully automated hand washing system to fully wash and sanitize that hand very quickly, consistent manner every time.

Once you get done with that hand washing it's really important to then, I highly recommend going through a paper towel product dry. To then go on to that, to that gloving zone. And then that gloving zone is, is really, really important. I mean, gloves need to be to where they fit properly. They're not loose fitting, they're not overly tight, they're comfortable. The glove of choice has been designed for whatever you're coming in contact with you know, and what it is you're dealing with.

Just an additional note on there, another thing to look at is when you're using gloves within maybe an RTE or a raw area. Obviously, you know, good separation, good hygiene intervention steps there. But you also may run into allergens too. You could potentially get an allergen on a glove. And you can't sanitize that away, you actually have to wash that away.

So, there could be a possibly cross contamination risk. You have to look at that when it comes to your hygienic zoning. That's why it's so important to understand that people, place, and products so that you make sure that you look at all those risk factors when it comes to hygienic zoning and the use of gloves in those zones.

Joe: Great. Thanks, Paul. So, Steve, I’ve read some about the issues that, gloves can cause with skin health. So, what kind of troubles can people run into with that and what are some options for people with sensitive skin who have to wear gloves regularly.

Steve: Yeah, it's a good question and  there's a lot of misinformation in a way out there about these things, I mean, latex gloves initially with were a problem that many States have now stopped people wearing latex gloves with food because of the potential to carry across the proteins on the gloves, which cause allergies.

And so latex gloves can, it can affect skin, particularly people with, suitability to other allergies as well. It seems to run in the, in the family if you like. And then some of the nitrile gloves that we sell people have different accelerators that aren't, I guess each gloves like a recipe, if you like, and when the glove manufacturer makes a glove, for example, for someone at a dental clinic, it's a totally different recipe to someone who's going to be handling a large piece of meat and cutting it into chops, for example.

And so, there's a number of different accelerators, some of which can be quite, if not done properly, can be quite damaging to skin sensitive skins. And so, there's a number of options there that you've got to be aware of as well. And that's where it goes back to the glove choice. What's the glove that we need for the job that has to be done.

In terms of people who are really sensitive to, some of these accelerators. We have an accelerator free option, and most companies will have some sort of accelerator free option these days, and they tend to be a little bit more expensive, but they take out some of these chemicals that can cause sensitivities to some people's skin.

But it is, I mean, these people, you know, people who are using these gloves as a tool of trade, and, and ready to eat places, food processing, meat processing. I mean, it's, it's all in their hands for eight hours a day. So, it's really important to get a good quality glove. And that goes right back to the factories where these are made, raw materials that'd be made from, and it's one of the reasons we've initiated a five-step check, which, which checks what the raw materials are in each glove.

If there's any dermal toxicity, we use a number of tests to check the toxicity of the surface of the glove to the skin, and then a number of other characteristics that we can check for to make sure that people are going to have a good experience with the glove. Cause you know, it's just like everything else it's like a carpenter and a hammer.  The person's glove his tool of trade and we need to make it as easy and as efficient to use as possible.

Paul: Hey Steve, just a real quick question in regard to the gloves and looking at them. When you guys manufacture your gloves, do you actually look at them for, not obviously sterility because that's a different type of gloving, but do you look at them as is being able to control pathogens, meaning that are out of the box and so forth?

Steve: Yeah, that's a really good question and it's, it's another one of our favorites, we've done a lot of work on this over the years, and we're starting to publish some of the trial results now. We've been working with a microbiologist called Barry Michaels, who's well known in the glove and hand industries, is sort of known as a glove hand guru.

We've done a lot of checks on the, on the gloves, and its interesting results without going into too much detail that we checked and, in putting together a testing system, we checked 25 different brands of gloves coming into the US for medical use and food use. And I think last count, we found about 180 different pathogens on the gloves.

From E. coli and other food born illness pathogens, to food waste pathogens, food spoilage pathogens, so that people could be handling, for example, in a supermarket, they're not placing apples and they're actually adding the potential for that food to spoil faster. And the things like E. coli and other pathogens that could pass on foodborne illness on the food, and they on to consumer.

And these are on new gloves that are straight out of the box after arriving into the US and one of the things. I guess people don't realize is there's no checks on gloves when they arrive into the US for what are called food grade gloves. And there's an FDA compliance and that, it's a fairly complicated compliance that gloves have to meet, which is based around the chemicals that are in the glove and the potential to migrate out of the glove and food.

But there's no requirement for a glove to be clean. There's no requirement for a glove to not have holes or breakages in it, and there's no requirement for them not to have other materials on which we've found like feces, sewage, mold, fungus and so on. So, it is one of those areas that they're trying to raise awareness that just because of gloves in a box, it doesn't mean it's clean.

So, you may actually be pre-loading your business your food processing plant with pathogens by poor quality or not very well-made gloves. And it all goes to your point, Paul, it all goes back to the factories where those either poor filtration systems for the water that cleans the gloves as part of the process, or if there's some sort of other contamination within the factory that's causing the problem.

And one of the things that the meat processing industry in New Zealand does now, which is not totally efficient but it helps, is when they put on a glove in the line, they then wash them with really hot water, which is part of the process cause they're washing their knives all the time as well.

So, it just gives them that little extra step. It's obviously not a full clean, but it just wipes off any debris that may be on the gloves.

Paul: Interesting. Very, very interesting.

Steve:  Yeah, it's pretty scary. I say, what is allowed and what's not? And I guess the thing that really worries me the most is the perception that people have that a glove's clean just because it comes out of a box.

And they’re not sterile, so, we don't pretend that they're supposed to be sterile, but we do want them to be clean. And as i said, part of the testing process for us as we do this on our lots as they come into the country and we can sort of validate that our gloves are as clean as they possibly can be without being sterile.

Paul: One of the things that I've noticed over almost the last three decades in the food manufacturing business and in the hygiene business, it really, a lot of times boils down to really the behaviors. you know, when a person dons a set of gloves, they actually take on this different persona that I'm more protected and they seem to touch things more often. One of those being their faces, so forth and so on.

So, it is the still the awareness that you have a glove on. You know, the glove can be, you know, a protection for me, but can be a protect for someone else and it gets in that area. But it really still boils down to that, that human hygiene behavior of, "yeah, I'm wearing a glove, but I still need to just follow those proper, hygiene steps and measures."

And that all comes from them creating really a hygiene culture and people understanding those risk factors, and that really falls on the, the C staff and the leaders and the team member leaders, and the middle management to really enforce that and make that clear for everybody.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. We've had some, and I won't mention names, we've had a couple of customers, and I've seen their food because the previous gloves to ours we're ripping so much that workers would put gloves in their pockets. And when they do have rips, rather than having to go back to the booth and wash the hands put on new gloves, they just take them out of the pocket and put them on and then carry on with their preparation of ready to eat food.

And you know, that's obviously an absolute no, no. And I said to them, that's not a really good process. And they say, well, we've got a good process, but they just don't follow it. Well, I said that, "but you've probably got a process for locking the door as well. Are they allowed to not follow that?" And so, it's really the enforcement of the process and trying to get people to understand that this isn't voluntary. It's an essential part of keeping the business clean and not literally making people sick. And I think the other big thing that people do is, particularly with some of the larger gloves, like the CPE and the PE gloves, I use them too long. They should be used for literally minutes because they'll break down really quickly.

And I find for some jobs, if you're making a quick sandwich a PE glove's, probably a good choice. If you use it for five sandwiches, then you're starting to run into problems. So, it is a real culture thing. And I know there's been a lot of work done and being done by the FDA and others to try and instill it into industry.

And I think it was a positive out of all this mess that we're in at the moment. It's the focus on hand and glove hygiene, what I think will, yeah, carry on after this is hopefully finished.

Paul: Yeah. Very insightful. Very, very insightful.

Joe: So, Steve, we talked briefly about some of the issues that you can run into with subpar glove manufacturing. So, what are some things to look for in a glove supplier, and how can someone ensure the gloves they're buying are safe and effective?

Steve: Yeah, it's tricky actually, and there's a lot of trading of gloves going on at the moment. I'm getting, I got to message here at five minutes before we started here saying from a guy saying. "My manufacturer sent me a certificate. How do I know if it's genuine?" And certainly, it's a really good question because often the certificate is from a lab three doors down from the factory and you just don't quite know what's going on.

I mean, one of the things we do, we've visited, personally visited every factory we use on many occasions, we use an organization called child labor free to certify an audit for factories regularly.

We're using other organizations like CDX, which is another auditing sort of thing, so I know, we know that the factories are well looked after. The industry is right with poor labor practices throughout Southeast Asia. In fact, one manufacturer was banned from entering the US late last year because of labor rights violations.

So, there's all these things, and I guess, well, sort of like the Canary in the coal mine type of thing, if they're not treating their workers right, how are they working their factory, how is the filtration system, how is the water quality and so on. So, there's all those sorts of things that are important. So, I guess it's just, it's really doing a bit of research.

I imagine when people come to buy the Meritech machine, that they do a lot of research and they look at your documentation and they make sure it works, and that's no different really for a glove. As simple as it may seem, they should be doing the same sort of due diligence on the glove and the manufacturer and asking good questions, which we are trying to assist in terms of helping people know what to ask.

But yeah, it's just, it's a bit of a minefield, but I think it's the fact that we visit the factories, so we know what goes on.

For good or bad. I've been in the industry now for that 16 or 17 years. And I've seen some pretty interesting stuff. In fact, the very first factory I went to, which I won't name the country cause I don't want to start an international incident, but, they were, they took us to the packing room, which is a room where gloves are typically just on a table and there's people counting them out at 25.

They put 4 25's in a bundle and then put them in a box. And this was a room that stank of acid and chlorine. it was dirty on a concrete floor with no walls. It was just a roof, because it was a hot part of the world. And one person's job was to go around these piles or gloves and wipe off the cockroaches and the flies. And then they put them in the box. And I noticed at the time, and this was unfortunately pre iPhone, so I couldn't take a photo or anything. But I noticed at the time that medical examination gloves destined for the US on the branding. So it's, you know, people just assume that these factories, and to be fair now I should say that the factories have improved a lot, I know I haven't seen anything like that for a long time. I think it's just being aware of what can happen and doing some due diligence on your supplier.

Joe: So we've talked about a few different types of gloves. And I was wondering if you could just give us a high-level overview of the most common glove types, and they're advantages or disadvantages of each.

Steve: Yep. So latex gloves we talked about briefly and are not for the food industry. They're not really a choice these days because of, basically the regulations say you can't handle food with them in many cases, but they are probably the best possible glove you could buy in terms of fit and environmental, it's basically a natural product. Unfortunately, as I say, the food industry can't use them, but you'll find them well used in medical center, particularly still in surgery. That'd be the glove of choice for anybody in a sterile situation.

At the very other end of the scale as vinyl, PVC gloves, these are horrible, and we've stopped selling them several years ago. They were banned in several countries from 2001 for use with food contact with, because of the chemicals they contain. And there's a lot of science on PVC. Vinyl gloves are made from PVC. And the way they are made, so PVC is a hard, solid. People might recognize PVC pipe. It's obviously had to make that malleable and to be able to make it into a glove. There's a lot of plasticizers added. Some are, some are phthalates, which have been known to cause all sorts of cancers and so on. Now, a lot of vinyl gloves don't have those, but some do, and it's really hard again, to know which is which. The other thing is this, there we’re trials done in the late 19 hundreds and nearly two thousands by the medical industry on vinyl gloves, and they've found on average nearly 52% of gloves have holes in them immediately after donning because of the molecular structure. It was linear molecular structure.

So, you put the glove on, it splits apart. Then you've got holes that will let a virus and a bacteria through. So, the medical industry basically stopped using them for that reason and other reasons. But the food industry, particularly in the US uses them a lot, particularly in ready to eat, supermarkets, fast food, those sorts of areas.

And the only real reason to use them is they're cheap. Yeah. There's no other reason. They're not comfortable, they sweat a lot, so you can probably tell I'm not a keen fan of vinyl gloves.

And then there's nitrile gloves, which you know, as many gloves as you can think of within the natural range, they've got some good chemical resistance.

The sensitive glove I mentioned earlier that is accelerator free is also chemotherapy rated. So, it means that, you know, if you're using chemicals of various sorts, even in a food or a cleaning sense they are very good choice. They're also really comfortable, they're as close to a latex, sort of tactile and sensitivity as you can get from a synthetic product. And they're coming down in price from where they were prior to this but coming down to price as usage increases around the world. They were known to be pretty expensive, but now they're pretty cost effective.

And we started with one major customer that we are shifting from a vinyl to a nitrile glove, even though they are paying more per glove, they were saving money per month from the less, wastage from rips, and so on.

And higher productivity too, which is hard to measure. But when you've got a good fitting glove people can be more productive, particularly with tactile work, like ready to eat, and so, yeah.

The other option we're looking at as well is a range of loosely fitting gloves and they're the polyethylene, chlorinated polyethylene, or new one, relatively new on called TPE.

And they are quite a good fit for some areas, particularly really quick jobs, like again, making a sandwich or if you're in a supermarket cutting ham or something, you know, you can use it for two to three minutes and then dispose of it. So, it's areas where you don't really need a good glove that you use, you know, a good long-lasting glove, but you do need still a good barrier for a short period of time. The trick is to not use them for too long and get into bad habits.

Joe: Could you speak to the environmental impacts of the different gloving materials and manufacturing processes?

Steve: So, and its weird, gloves started, you know, 40, 50 years ago, really.  And so, they basically take the sap from a rubber tree and make everything from tires to disposable gloves out of it. And that's, so that's why even gloves that are made from petrochemical products like vinyl and nitrile are still in the areas that seem to have rubber trees because that's where the infrastructure was set up. Really you could make nitrile gloves anywhere because the raw material comes out of the ground and the forms of petrochemical product.

But certainly, I mean, vinyl gloves, we know that vinyl produces dioxin when it's being manufactured and when the gloves are disposed of it also leaches dioxin as well, so either via a landfill or if it's burnt, incinerated. So, we just don't like then at all.

Latex gloves are relatively natural depending on how they're made and what other ingredients are. You can't use them for the food industry.

Nitrile, and again, has a range of ingredients depending on the type of glove, we'd love to say they're recyclable and reusable or compostable but really there's no viable way of doing that yet. So yeah. And the best thing is to reduce. The sort of zero waste hierarchy starts with reduce.

So again, to use the example, we moved one major customer from a vinyl glove that weighed 4.8 grams to a nitrile glove that weighed 2.8 grams. So straight away from the same number of gloves are saving significant amount of raw material and the gloves last longer and don't rip as much, and there's other various other benefits as well.

And that translates right through to the transportation if you consider they're shipped halfway around the world. If you can ship less gloves, you're basically using less carbon and so on. So that's sort of a win, win right there. But the goal is eventually to work out ways of, of reusing or, or recycling these gloves in some way or repurposing them which there is a lot of work being done on, but it's just not quite viable as yet when you've got a potentially contaminated product coming out of the food or the medical site, and people don't want to use a second hand glove for most of the situations. So, there's a few challenges, but then there's a lot of work being done on it.

Joe: So how do you advise handling the disposal of these gloves?

Steve: Well, I mean, it starts with a good doffing process. Which we've got a good video and there's several good, in fact, the CDC just put out a good example of how to do that. So, making sure you're not contaminating yourself as you're taking them off.

And then really the only option, as I say at the moment, is to go to landfill. Well consideration depending on what the local situation is there. PE, and the TPE gloves, and CPE gloves, they can be recycled with normal plastic. So, they can literally go in your plastic recycling bin. Now the potential problem is if they're contaminated with anything, food products, then they need to be washed and cleaned before they can be done with.

But that's one of the challenges that us and various others are working on in terms of how do we help people discard less? And the start is use less. So. focuses on getting people to use less of a better product.

Joe: All right. Paul. We mentioned earlier briefly about how compliance is a pretty big issue when it comes to gloving. So, could you offer some tips on how to improve compliance and further develop a culture where gloving as a priority.

Paul: Well, I think, I think you just mentioned it right there. I think the number one thing you have to really start with is, is creating that hygiene culture. And obviously you start with that, you know, with your hygiene social contract, and that's really, really important. But one of the things that you can interlace within your compliance structure is proper training videos, making sure that you're training people in the right languages they understand, showing videos and posters that really demonstrate the proper use. Other ways that you can do that depending on, again, your people, place, and products. You can have gloves that may have different colors depending on kind of, you know, these gloves are used in an allergen area, these gloves are used the raw area, these gloves were used in an RTE setting. This helps you create that standard.

I mean, within consistency you can build quality and so you, you really take those steps and look at that exactly what that use model is for that glove. So, you can really identify, you know, what are your pitfalls of compliance? How do you make certain that people are wearing the glove properly? Are you seeing people in staff reusing a glove when they shouldn't be? Are they trying to re sanitize that glove? Or you may have a line worker and team member that is working a couple different lines, they may be going from, from one side to another side, does there need to be an intervention step between those two processes so that there's not a risk of cross contamination? That's the bigger thing.

And then also just that constant reassurance, that constant onboarding with staff to make sure that they're meeting the requirements of that facility.

You know, are you understanding exactly and following the procedures that are established. Not only for, you know, meeting any regulatory requirements, but also meeting what, again, back to creating that hygiene culture, and understanding, you know, this is how we want to establish those compliance guidelines.

 There's nothing worse in my mind when wearing a glove when a glove doesn't fit properly, that's where you have some risk factors. Being able to provide gloves that fit your various people. Obviously, you know, hands come in all different sizes and so we need to make sure to have that, but obviously having all those keen hygiene steps is, is the best thing when it comes to creating the best compliance structures.

Steve: The colors thing is great, a really good point. And people use that for allergy control as well to make sure that there's no cross contamination.  It's really just a focus gloves are, a key zone one item. So that they're as important as any other zone one food safety item in your processing plant. I mean, to me, when I walk in, I've used the term before today, when I walk into a processing plant or a retail plant that the gloves or the Canary in the coal mine.

Frontline workers have been given a poor tool of trade, a cheap tool of trade that's not doing the job for them. And I've seen, to Paul's point, I've seen companies that just provide a medium sized glove for everybody cause it's cheaper and you know, those sorts of things. Then you know, straight away that was going to be some bad process behind the scenes as well. So, it's a real Canary in the coal mine. It’s a really interesting area, which is a focus now coming on is the hand glove hygiene, which is music to our ears.

Joe: I want to thank both Paul and Steve for their insightful commentary on the topic of gloving Meritech and Eagle protect, have a mutual passion for making the world a healthier and safer place. That is why our organizations have decided to partner on educational content like this podcast. 

This podcast is brought to you by Meritech, the leader in automated employee hygiene. Meritech offers a complete line of fully-automated hygiene equipment that provides the only clinically-validated, technology-based approach to human hygiene in the world. Meritech’s line of CleanTech® Automated Handwashing Stations performs a fully-automated 12-second hand wash, sanitize and rinse cycle, removing over 99.9% of dangerous pathogens while wasting zero water or chemical. Meritech delivers employee hygiene, contamination control, and infection prevention programs within a wide variety of markets, including food production, food service, cleanroom, healthcare, medical, theme parks, and cruise lines. For more information call 303-790-4670