The best kind of gloves to use in the work place are non-powdered, ‘low-protein’ single-use latex gloves. ‘Low-protein’ means manufactured to the European Standards indicated by EN420. In powered latex gloves, NRL (Natural Rubber Latex) proteins can leach out of the glove materials and attach to the powder particles. The proteins can then become airborne and become inhaled, which can cause asthma and uticaria. These can then be hazardous to health under COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations). If an employer’s assessment leads to the use of latex gloves, they should be low-protein and powder free. If these kinds of gloves are used, the employer must carry out a risk assessment to monitor if occupational asthma is likely or has occurred.

When deciding on the gloves to be used, one must identify the substances that are going to be handled (eg work in laboratory, work in hairdressing), the hazards prevalent to the work, the task and the size and user comfort of the gloves. If the user is using the gloves in a ‘wet work’ situation, for example, hairdressing, gloves must be chosen to meet the European Standard EN374-2. Frequent contact with water, especially in conjunction with soaps and detergents, can cause dermatitis. Some chemicals and products that contain an active agent that is an irritant may guide you on what gloves to wear with their use. Glove manufacturers may produce guidance on breakthrough time, i.e the time it takes for the chemical to permeate through the glove material and meet the inside. Gloves must be selected to meet the task, for example, sterile gloves, food grade gloves, etc.

One should be aware of the health risks associated with chemicals. One should use tools and methods to prevent skin contact with hazardous substances. One should ensure that the hands are washed and dried regularly, especially after wearing and before wearing protective gloves. Contact dermatitis is a common problem in many industries. Other hand related ailments include burns, abrasion and nerve damage due to vibration, skin cancer and skin discoloration (depigmentation). Suitable gloves should be used. Skin care products can help maintain the skin in good condition and retain its protective function. There are some creams that provide a semi-resistant barrier against chemicals. They do not provide full protective function as do PPE and gloves, however, they may facilitate the cleaning process by allowing the use of less powerful cleansers.


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