In 2015, the British Medical Association (BMA) Medical Fair and Ethical Trade group convened to tackle labor rights abuse in the medical (disposable) gloves manufacturing industry. Their report “In Good Hands. Tackling labor rights concerns in the manufacture of medical gloves,” highlights that at present this sector should be considered at high risk of labor rights abuse.
The manufacture of disposable gloves is a large global industry that produces in the region of 150 billion pairs of glove per year, with a market value of over USD $5 billion. Disposable gloves are primarily used in the healthcare and food industries, with the leading regions of export to the USA, EU and Japan.
Factories manufacturing disposable gloves are largely found in Malaysia and Thailand, with a handful of other Asian countries, and are reliant on migrant workers. Labor rights in the fashion industry recently came into the news as two fashion giants pulled out of the Dhaka Apparell Summit due to poor worker treatment in the host city of Bangledesh.
In recent years, there have been a number of investigations of labor conditions in the disposable glove industry, revealing endemic and serious labor rights abuse of workers in factories. These include both factories manufacturing for small glove suppliers and those manufacturing for major international brands.
“The manufacture of disposable gloves is at high risk of labor rights abuse.”
The report also suggests that those who use, procure, supply, or manufacture medical (disposable) gloves instigate policies and practices to protect workers in the industry.
Those involved in the supply chain for medical gloves have the power, and some of the responsibility, to protect workers in their supply chain. This includes manufacturers, suppliers, purchasing organizations, and end-users.
Suppliers of disposable gloves have the moral and legal obligation to source products from factories with a commitment to workers’ rights.
Users of disposable gloves also have the power to affect change in this industry by questioning suppliers and demanding transparency in the supply chain of disposable glove manufacturing.
“Users of disposable gloves also have the power to affect change in this industry, questioning suppliers and demanding transparency in the supply chain of disposable glove manufacturing.”
Eagle Protect PBC is the world’s only certified B Corp™ disposable glove and clothing specialist. Each one of our factories are audited regularly, following our Supplier Code of Conduct, and we are proudly on the journey towards Child Labor Free* certification for our core range of products. Child Labor Free* conduct independent unannounced spot audits on all aspects of labor conditions, especially child labor.
We are committed to transparency in our supply chain, and are endeavoring to partner with businesses that care enough about their products, their reputation, their staff and their customers, by sourcing their disposable gloves and clothing responsibly.
*The organisation behind Child Labor Free has ceased offering accreditation renewal, effective December 2020.