All Occupational Health staff should be aware that:
Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) affect all areas of the healthcare sector, including the Occupational Health environment, because Occupational Health staff:
- Have an increased risk of developing NRL allergy through the repeated use of NRL gloves.
- They may need to advise sensitised staff.
They also have:
- A statutory responsibility to reduce the risk of sensitisation in themselves, their colleagues and clients.
It is therefore essential that Occupational Health staff are aware and familiar with:
- Their organisation’s Policy / or the organisation that they are contracted to) on action to protect staff who are allergic to NRL.
- Their organisation’s / or the organisation that they are contracted to purchasing programme which only supports powder-free/low-protein NRL glove use and wherever possible NRL-free equipment and product purchasing.
- Organisational and local Glove selection guides. See: Guidance on Latex Glove Selection
- An organisational NRL-free resuscitation policy. ALL products must be NRL-free, as it makes no sense to use NRL when it may have been the cause of anaphylaxis. Click here for Resuscitation Council (UK) Guidelines.
- Occupational Health pre-screening questionnaires.
- A regularly up-dated database of generic and specialty specific products which do and do not contain NRL which will be specific to department due to range of possible products used.
- The need to minimise the purchase of NRL-containing products and check with manufacturers ~ possibly labelled
- The Occupational Health / Health and Safety reporting mechanism for effective diagnostics of employed staff / or staff in post.
- What glove materials for use by sensitised OH staff and for sensitised clients are available
- What hand washing products and creams are available. See Skin care protocol.
- An Education programme to inform new and existing staff.
- Where to find Posters for information, clearly displayed and on file.
Occupational Health staff will be required to:
- Undertake pre-employment screening of all prospective employees working in the clinical environment — this could be as simple as adding a question on the Pre-Employment Health Questionnaire.
- Provide advice to all prospective employees and their managers regarding NRL-safe environments.
- Provide advice to all employees with regard to NRL protein and chemical sensitisations.
- Undertake a risk assessment to determine whether an NRL-safe environment within OH clinical rooms should be the ‘norm’ to prevent / reduce the incidence of exposure to NRL, to both OH personnel and clients.
- Undertake a risk-assessment to determine whether a NRL-free gloves should be used in a client testing / diagnostic situation, where the member of staff is, as yet, undiagnosed.
- Develop a screening tool for identifying NRL Sensitivity, to assist in determining whether further diagnostics/testing are required.
- Once a positive diagnosis of NRL allergy has been made, to undertake a risk assessment within clients workplace, in conjunction with the manager, to ensure a safe working environment for sensitised individuals.