Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Follow Up on Rubber Glove Safety

Early last month I wrote about rubber gloves and how different gloves are better/worse in some situations than others. I received a direct email from an retired industrial hygienist, which (with her permission) I now present:
"Hello Dr. Spevacek

I have been browsing your blog and read with interest your note about glove performance. Your identifying access to glove chemical resistance is sure to be helpful to readers.

I am a retired industrial hygienist, with most of my career practice for laboratories. I can supplement your column with some notes.

1). Ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer gloves have a resistance profile across most of any lab's chemical profile. They can be worn singly or over another, better fitting glove. The issue with these gloves is their fit and stiffness. It is very difficult to do fine movements in these gloves which precludes wearing them for some laboratory procedures. But, because of their excellent resistance profile you may find it useful to add them for some tasks.

2.). If you have a safety officer who is not involved in hazard identification and glove selection then s/he is not qualified for the job. (I was going to say that they are a bonehead.). Glove performance and task links should be established for all labs and other job settings that require a safety glove. There should be no need for you to keep a stash of different gloves and protect them from raids by people in other labs. Each lab should be collaborating with the safety officer for glove selection and be able to get the right glove(s) for their lab people.

3.). If your safety officer's product is safety by walking around looking at things, you should meet with executive management about the safety model. A safety officer should be something of an extra pair of hands for each laboratory and department, not a guardian angel. The safety officer should be working with you to identify hazards of the work done in your lab and strategies to reduce the potential for injury and/or property loss. Metrics should be identified and tracked, beyond the usual, number of OSHA recordable injuries per unit time. The old model of safety by clipboard inspection should be blown up and discarded.

4.). This means that the safety officer must have a substantial fund of knowledge beyond regulatory compliance basics. They should be able to be a true resource for you, in establishing and modifying lab operations and procedures. You deserve more than a clipboard person looking for "gotcha"s.

Best wishes for high yields and purity--

Liz Aton"

Those points all speak for themselves.


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jessica8 said...

I work as a chemical safety specialist. I'm very interested in how Elizabeth Aton feels a proper lab inspection should be done as opposed to the "clip board" method, which we are currently using.
Would you have an email address or other contact information for her?

John said...


Yes I do have Liz's email, and I do think she would be quite willing to help you, but I am not comfortable in just handing it out in a forum like this.

Send me an email (my address is on the left side of this page) and I will forward it on to her so that she may contact you directly.