printech,July,2004Protective Glove Selection Tips

printech, July, 2004
Protective Glove Selection Tips

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From: Gary Jones(
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 17:16:33
From Lab Safety Supply's Saf-T-News at


One common misconception is that OSHA recommends or certifies gloves, or other types of products. In fact, OSHA does not certify any products. So, where do you go for reliable information on which gloves and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is appropriate for your application? Who is responsible for which items are selected?

According to OSHA regulations, the employer (or end user) has the final responsibility for selecting gloves and other PPE. On occasion, in cases where the work is especially dangerous, an OSHA inspector might request documentation that the glove selection is appropriate. OSHA does issue simple guidelines to help establish a safe and healthy work environment.

For example, when dealing with exposure to bloodborne pathogens, OSHA simply recommends use ofappropriate gloves without specifically requiring the gloves to be surgical or medical exam gloves with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Either type will provide suitable protection, but gloves should be selected for the specific application. For instance, when cleaning animal cages in a lab, a heavier liquid-proof or chemical-resistant glove may be the better choice.

Most manufacturers and distributors of gloves and other PPE can make glove recommendations based on testing data supplied by the manufacturer. But test data is gathered using standard laboratory test methods, and as a result may not replicate the actual conditions in which the gloves are being used. For this reason, and because the manufacturers do not have complete knowledge or control over the conditions in which the gloves are used, recommendations are advisory only. OSHA regulations give responsibility for selecting gloves and PPE to the employer or end user.

When can gloves be reused? OSHA currently offers no specific answers to the question because there are too many possible situations in which the answers wouldn't apply. For example, a glove with a small cut in its protective film may be appropriate for use in some applications but not others. If the glove provides protection from sharp objects, it might be used again as long as a second sharp object is unlikely to hit the glove in exactly the same place. If the glove provides protection against liquid chemicals, then even one small cut is too many and the glove should be replaced.

OSHA does provide fairly precise guidelines to deal with potential hand contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials.

Disposable single-use gloves such as surgical or exam gloves must be replaced as soon as practical when contaminated or as soon as feasible if torn, punctured or when their ability to function as a barrier is compromised.

Disposable single-use gloves cannot be reused, even if washed or decontaminated. Utility gloves may be decontaminated for reuse if the integrity of the glove is not compromised, but they should be discarded if they are cracked, peeling, torn, punctured, or exhibiting other signs of deterioration, or when their ability to function as a barrier is compromised.

If an employer in a volunteer blood donation center judges that routine gloving is not necessary, then the employer must periodically re-evaluate this policy, make gloves available for all employees who wish to use them, encourage the use of gloves, require that gloves be used for phlebotomy when the employee has cuts, scratches or other breaks in the skin surface, or when the employee judges that hand contamination with blood may occur.

The method of disposing of glove disposal depends on how the glove was used. If the glove is contaminated with a toxic compound or biological material that is covered by any disposal regulations, the gloves must be handled in the same way as the toxic material itself. If gloves are not contaminated or have been properly decontaminated, either landfill or incineration is a satisfactory means of disposal.

Since ordinary aerobic or anaerobic decomposition processes in gloves will not form any toxic products, gloves may be disposed of in any landfill. Breakdown in landfill will be very slow except for products made of cotton or natural rubber. Incineration is an optimum choice, and a good unit will completely burn all types of gloves as well as any intermediate decomposition products formed during the process. If dealing with large quantities of gloves, contact the glove manufacturer for specific recommendations.

For more information, read EZ Facts® document No. 191, Chemical Protective Gloves. Go to:

For a PDF chart of compatibility between chemicals and glove materials, go to:

For the OSHA hand protection standard, go to:

For a wide selection of gloves, go to:

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