Gloves and handling chemicals & glass etc ...with care
Are you using chemicals etc? If you are, which glove do you wear? Is it the correct type? What difference does it make?
Selecting the correct and most suitable glove is a complicated procedure, with the level of protection they give often difficult to establish. If protective gloves are worn incorrectly they may also cause health problems for the wearer:
- Contaminants getting inside the glove
- Wearing the gloves for long periods causing sweat, itself an irritant
- Allergic reactions to natural rubber
All gloves used to protect against chemicals and biological hazards have a Permeation Rate - the rate a chemical will penetrate 'through' the glove and then onto skin. It is imperative to understand what this Rate is and how the glove will affect work.
To understand how gloves can and cannot protect you - the HSE has produced HSG205: Assessing and managing risks from skin exposure to chemical agents. (copy available to view under licence to Bangor University users only)
Other useful links, including glove chemical permeation and degradation charts and guides are available at:
Ansell - useful colour chart for common laboratory chemical compatibility and breakthrough times
BM Polyco Test Laboratories - informative colour chart for 'commonplace' laboratory gloves
HSE Gloves Selection Guide - selecting protective gloves for work with chemicals
- SemperMed-Industrial - chemical chart
Remember, just because you wear gloves does not mean you are free of contamination risk. The glove must be the correct glove for the chemical or biological hazard, the gloves must be replaced regularly and after chemical contact. For example, if acetone is in contact with a Latex Lab Glove it will penetrate the glove in around 3 minutes and get onto the skin, for Nitrile Lab Gloves the penetration time is measured in seconds!
There is no ONE laboratory glove to suit all scenarios.
Risk / COSHH Assessments
Selecting a suitable glove for the work must be an integral part of the Risk / COSHH Assessment process, with the correct materials and equipment, including PPE clearly highlighted. These documents should consider all 'personal protective equipment' (PPE), including gloves to make sure the appropriate glove is selected and that users know how to use them; i.e. put them on, use them, pull them off and dispose of them, without damaging their integrity and without rendering them unsafe.
Always consider individual needs i.e. those with a latex allergy during the Risk / COSHH Assessment process.
Further guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be found here