Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) affect all staff working in the Pathology because:
- They have an increased risk of developing NRL allergy through the repeated use of NRL gloves.
- They have a statutory responsibility to reduce risk of sensitisation in themselves, their colleagues and their patients.
- They may need to manage sensitised patients.
All laboratory staff should ensure that they have and are familiar with:
- An organisational Policy on action to protect staff who are allergic to NRL
- An organisational Policy on action to protect patients who are allergic to NRL
- An organisational purchasing programme which only supports powder-free/low-protein latex glove use and wherever possible NRL-free equipment and product purchasing
- Organisational and local Glove selection guides to minimise NRL and chemical exposure See: Guidance on Latex Glove Selection.
- An organisational NRL-free resuscitation policy. ALL products must be latex 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
- Risk-assessments undertaken for your specific department which must include NRL
- A database of generic and specialty specific products which do and do not contain NRL which is regularly up-dated which needs to be specific for each department due to range of possible products used
- Minimisation of purchase of NRL-containing products by checking with manufacturers ~ possibly labelled
- A local or shared NRL-free trolley or box for use with sensitised patients
- A Occupational Health/Health and Safety reporting mechanism for effective diagnostics of in-post staff
- Synthetic alternative gloves for use by sensitised staff and for use with patients
- A named responsible person for managing Health and Safety
Allergic persons must be informed of reagents and equipment containing latex.
Glove Selection for Pathology Laboratories
Biohazard resistance and inoculation injury
When selecting gloves, which should be part of the COSHH Assessment for the use of any chemicals, some of the factors to be considered are:
- The nature of the chemicals to which exposure might occur.
- The concentration and/or temperature of the chemicals both of which can affect penetration rates.
- The frequency and duration of contact with the chemical.
- The requirement for the glove material to be robust and resistant to physical damage such as tearing or abrasion. or where inoculation injury risks exist, for example phlebotomy, contaminated machine probe manipulations etc.
- The need for dexterity and “feel” with the glove on.
- The extent of protection – hand only or wrist and forearm as well?
See also ‘Do Gloves Need to be Worn?’ for further guidance.