Frequently Asked Questions about Glove Use at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
1. When should gloves be worn?
Gloves should be worn when your hands may come into contact with potentially infectious material, radioactive material, or hazardous chemicals.
2. Why should I remove my gloves before exiting the lab?
It is standard microbiological practice to remove all personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to exiting the laboratory. This applies to all lab personnel working at all biosafety levels (1-4). This prevents any possible contamination of "clean" areas such as restrooms, elevators, offices, and cafeterias.
3. If I don't work with any hazardous material, but I do wear gloves for other reasons, what is the concern?
When you are seen wearing gloves in the hallway, the general public perception is that you have been handling something that is possibly harmful to humans. Furthermore, if you have been working with or handling potentially harmful materials, your gloves may be contaminated and you may not even know it!
4. What if I have to transport hazardous material, such as a rack of tubes containing radioactive material, from one lab to another?
The recommended method of transporting hazardous material within UT Health Science Center at San Antonio is to utilize secondary containment. Secondary containment must be clean and uncontaminated and can range from plastic tubs, containers, or lab carts. This method allows your hands to be free from exposure to any hazardous material thus eliminating your need to wear gloves.
5. Do I need special equipment or carts to move hazardous material through the hallway?
The equipment used to transport hazardous material within the corridors should be sturdy and uncontaminated. The lab carts should have an upper lip to minimize accidental tip over during transport. Clean diaper pads should also be placed to help absorb any accidental spills during transport.
6. When would it be acceptable to wear gloves in the hallways?
In cases where secondary containment cannot be used, you may feel more safe wearing gloves. If this is the case, we recommend that you keep one hand un-gloved for the purpose of opening doors, entering and exiting elevators. The other hand can then be gloved for the purpose of carrying any potentially hazardous material. If you are transporting materials requiring the use of two hands, then the recommendation is to use a clean, uncontaminated lab cart.
7. What if I have questions about the types of gloves that are available?
There are several types of gloves available for various uses. No glove is completely chemically-resistant; however, there are a number of different types of gloves available depending on the type of chemical used, and duration of exposure to that chemical. Please refer to the following websites for information, or contact the Environmental Health & Safety Office, 567-2955.
8. What if I have a latex allergy?
Please refer to the Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan which is available on the Environmental Health & Safety website.
9. I have seen people coming out of labs wearing gloves and then pressing the buttons for the elevator. What should I do?
If you witness anyone in the hallway wearing gloves, please contact the Environmental Health & Safety Office, 1.343T, 567-2955.