Natural rubber latex is known to cause an allergic response in some individuals working in environments in which products composed from this material are extensively used. The health care and the rubber industries are predominantly affected but laboratory workers, particularly in some areas of the biosciences may also be affected.
The University has two relevant documents
Latex gloves are widely used to protect against exposure to harmful substances and also to protect work from contamination. Latex allergy is particularly associated with the use of powdered latex gloves – the powder helping to disperse the latex protein, resulting in exposures fifty times higher than arises from non-powdered gloves. The powder used in these gloves can also penetrate the pores of the skin and when combined with sweat produced within the glove this can lead to adverse skin reactions.
The use of pre-powdered latex gloves is prohibited within the University, because of the risk of these provoking dangerous allergic reactions and skin conditions.
The use of disposable non powdered latex gloves must be avoided wherever possible and in all cases where there exists a viable and practicable alternative to the use of latex gloves the alternative should be utilised. Their use is only permitted where latex provides a distinct advantage over alternative gloving materials for the task and the justification for selecting latex must be documented in a risk assessment. Where latex gloves are used, this must be fully justified, documented and supported by a risk assessment. Users must be provided with information on the risk of latex allergy, information on how to recognise possible allergic reactions to latex and on the need to report suspicion of allergic reactions to the Occupational Health Department.
Suitable alternative gloves must be provided for users with diagnosed latex allergy. Advice on any additional necessary precautions should be sought from the Occupational Health Department as in more serious cases latex may need to be removed from the entire area.
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