Implicit in the sale of many items of protective clothing is the assumption that they can be cleaned and reused, and that protection of the human body will continue to be provided when the particular products are worn again. However, few products have been assessed with respect to deleterious effects of repeated use and cleaning. There is a statutory requirement in New Zealand that protective clothing for use in workplaces be designed, manufactured, tested, and used so as to give adequate protection from the harm against which it is intended to protect when maintained properly (during and between uses) and in accordance with its use [1, 2]. That is, effects of use and care on performance need to be known.
The purpose of this study was to ascertain effects which repeated use have on performance of chemical protective gloves for one workplace application. Practices for hand protection in a New Zealand sample of print and film processing industries (n = 149) were identified, and performance of a selection of gloves used (nitrile, polyvinyl chloride dipped, disposable polyvinyl chloride film) was examined in the laboratory (tested against methyl ethyl ketone, isopropyl alcohol and Blanket Wash No. 2) as new and after use in the field. Product performance and failure are discussed.