Importing Gloves and Other PPE During a Pandemic: How Universal Cargo Has Been Helping Businesses

 In Air Freight, customs clearance, economics, economy, Freight Forwarder, importing, International Shipping Company

The category of personal protective equipment (PPE) covers a broad range of goods and devices. It can refer to anything from gloves to protective clothing, face shields, surgical masks and respirators. It is any equipment designed to protect its wearer from injury or harm. In the case of the novel coronavirus, PPE prevents exposure to infection or illness. 

Gloves are one type of PPE that hold particular importance right now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disposable gloves be worn when disinfecting surfaces or caring for someone who is sick. Gloves are also essential for workplaces as they reopen. Employees need them to disinfect surfaces and while performing daily health screenings. Health screeners should use a clean pair of gloves when conducting temperature checks and change them for each individual they test.

In health care settings like hospitals, gloves are a vital and limited resource. Ideally, health care workers will change gloves between every patient they contact. Due to their scarcity during the pandemic, many use them for prolonged periods, disinfecting them between patients.

With every workplace using gloves and health care facilities turning to contingency plans to conserve supplies, a reliable source of safe-to-use gloves is more vital than ever. During these trying times, Universal Cargo has been a critical sourcing partner for disposable gloves and other PPE.

Importing Medical Gloves During a Time of Need

As highly regulated medical supplies, there are many types of gloves that health care facilities and other businesses can use for distinct purposes. Each type needs to be carefully sourced from a reliable manufacturer with quality assurance measures in place.

Universal Cargo has been a critical partner in sourcing many types of gloves, including nitrile examination gloves. Usually considered the best latex-free option, nitrile gloves are durable and can be classified for medical use. They are also common in food processing. 

We have sourced from some top brands for medical and industrial-grade gloves, like V-Glove®, Superior Glove, Unigloves and Top Glove. Usually, we import gloves in bulk carton shipments via containers or pallets. To maintain supply chain resiliency, Universal Cargo has connections with ports all over the world. We import PPE to the United States from manufacturing partners in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and around the globe.

How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Procurement and Use of Medical Gloves

Gloves are a crucial part of health care and have many applications for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have been in short supply. Hospitals and health care facilities have resorted to many tactics to conserve supplies. For example, the CDC has stated that gloves similar to FDA-cleared versions can be used for surgical and examination purposes. Some models that meet Chinese or Malaysian performance standards have been approved for use in place of examination gloves.

In severe crises, it’s even permissible to use non-medical disposable gloves when health care professionals will not expose themselves to pathogens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that any food service, embalming, cleaning or industrial-grade gloves in use closely align with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for medical gloves.

The FDA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) alike have warned of the potential for fraudulent medical gloves. If you are a health care professional or anyone charged with procuring gloves for your workplace, it’s crucial to be on a close watch for scams. Some signs of suspicious activity include:

  • Unusual payment terms, such as up-front payments or proof of payments
  • Last-minute price changes
  • Last-minute shipment delays
  • Unexplained bulk supplies

Many medical supply scammers will claim that gloves or other equipment were seized at a port or stuck in customs. Working with an import and logistics partner, like Universal Cargo, is one way to prevent these issues. A professional customs broker, like those on our team, carefully studies the regulations for medical supplies. These agents know exactly how to declare the products and provide the right specifications to avoid seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

Other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) That Universal Cargo Has Been Assisting With

Universal Cargo is capable of assisting companies with importing, exporting or transporting their freight on a global level. During the current pandemic, we have helped companies source and transport PPE such as:

  • Masks: Universal Cargo has helped many businesses, including assisted living homes, maintain an uninterrupted supply of medical-grade masks. We have sourced and transported 3-ply disposable surgical masks and KN95 particle respirators. We’ve also navigated the many evolving import regulations for these life-saving PPE.
  • Medical gowns: We’ve sourced both surgical and non-surgical isolation gowns intended for medical use. Our medical attire is FDA certified, and we can provide PPE with certification levels 1-3 to our clients. We’ve also sourced head and shoe covers intended for medical use.
  • Medical devices: We have assisted clients in sourcing and shipping ventilators and other medical devices that have increased importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How the Universal Cargo PPE Process Works

The Universal Cargo PPE importing process falls into two steps. First, we must source PPE that meets our client’s specifications. There are many different grades and types of medical gloves and face masks, each for specific purposes. For example, many gloves are not marketed or intended for medical use. To find the PPE that meets your particular needs, we work with our sourcing partners at Banah Trading.

Next, Universal cargo facilitates the logistics needed to get gloves from southeast Asia to anywhere in the U.S. The process involves coordinating the transportation and navigating the customs process. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process to import PPE and medical supplies has changed. Many restrictions have been lifted due to the need for adequate medical equipment.

Following FDA Guidelines

Surgical gloves and other medical equipment are classified as PPE by the FDA. Medical gloves are considered class 1 medical devices, which means the FDA must approve the gloves to meet safety and performance standards. They must receive a 510(k) premarket notification before shipment to the U.S.

Universal Cargo’s sister company, Banah Trading, specializes in sourcing PPE throughout southeast Asia, where most medical gloves and other equipment are manufactured. Banah Trading works directly with FDA-approved manufacturers and visits their facilities for inspections. By partnering with manufacturers that use sophisticated quality control programs, we can help import gloves and other products that meet FDA and international standards.

Taking on International Logistics and U.S. Customs

Once our partner has sourced the needed FDA-approved gloves or other supplies, Universal Cargo takes care of logistics. Importing has always been complicated because it requires customs clearance and extensive documentation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, importing surgical gloves and other medical supplies from China incurred tariffs. In March 2020, these tariffs were lifted to prevent shortages of vital supplies during the crisis.

While there are no tariffs on PPE, we take many steps to ensure a fast, smooth import process and avoid disruptions in the supply chain. We organize all import documentation, including customs bonds, required for any goods regulated by a government agency, such as the FDA.contact universal cargo for importing and exporting of ppeContact Universal Cargo for Importing and Exporting of Gloves and Other PPE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a flexible supply chain and access to medical supplies are critical. We understand that our ability to deliver PPE is saving lives and helping businesses stay open. We can help you find the most reliable transportation method and streamline the customs process for importing gloves and PPE to the U.S.

At Universal Cargo, we strive to make sure your shipments arrive when you need them. Contact us to request our sourcing, importing and exporting services for PPE. 

Please check our restricted shipments list before submitting your form.

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