Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) can be a daily hazard in the workplace, as identified by the Health and Safety Executive on their website. Workplaces where the wearing of surgical gloves is standard practice such as health and social care, can pose a particular risk in this respect. See Do Gloves Need to be Worn? in this section.
The pages in this section outline specific workplaces/roles where NRL can be a hazard, and practical steps to ensure the safety of people who are NRL-allergic.
Reporting arrangements for latex allergy at work
Firstly you must talk to your line manager. They should be aware of any reporting mechanisms within your organisation, perhaps via Occupational Health or the Health and Safety Officer, where you can be referred for investigation and diagnostics.
Are there any formal reporting arrangements?
There are a number of Agencies to which your management should report adverse reactions to Natural Rubber Latex products:
- Employers have a duty to report incidences of occupational dermatitis and asthma attributable to NRL to the Health and Safety Executive under the RIDDOR (or Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 requirements).
- The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA) has a voluntary reporting system for reporting cases of latex sensitisation to both patients and staff.
- The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is a Special Health Authority charged with improving patient safety in the NHS. It was created in 2001, following the publication of two reports addressing patient safety incidents in the NHS (An Organisation with a Memory and its follow-up, Building a Safer NHS for Patients). The NPSA published a patient safety information leaflet in 2005, urging all NHS organisations to act to better protect patients with latex allergy. Latex related incidents should be reported to the NPSA through their website.
The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH) published useful guidance in 1997 on preventing allergic reactions to NRL in the workplace.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published useful guidance on latex allergies in health and social care (Aug 2015). They also publish annual statistics on work-related skin disease in the UK.
The European Commission Scientific Committee on Medicinal Products and Medical Devices published an opinion on NRL Allergy in 2000.
Most of the material in this section was developed by the Latex Allergy Support Group, which merged with the Campaign in January 2016.