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Latex Allergies

Latex is a rubber product found in many manufactured goods, including:

* Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, and aprons;

* Medical equipment, such as catheters and intravenous tubes;

* Baby products, such as bottle nipples and pacifiers; and

* Other products, such as rubber bands, balloons, bandages, condoms, and adhesive tape

Make employees aware that some people are allergic to proteins in latex and may have a reaction after repeated exposure. Explain how and where exposure can happen. Exposure can result from skin contact or inhaling airborne latex protein. Even a small exposure can result in an allergic reaction once a person has become sensitized. People with a history of hay fever-type allergies or certain food allergies may be more likely to develop a latex allergy.

Let employees know who is most likely to be exposed to latex on the job, including:

(1) Healthcare workers who routinely wear latex gloves on the job have the greatest risk of developing latex allergies.

(2) Workers in other industries where latex products are manufactured or used are also at risk. Examples include latex product manufacturing workers, laboratory technicians, ambulance personnel, police, food service personnel, and high-tech production workers.

(3) Employees must also know how to recognize the symptoms of latex allergy. They include red, itchy skin or hives; sneezing, itchy eyes, throat irritation, asthma, or other respiratory problems; more severe symptoms such as chest tightness and shortness of breath; and in rare instances, life-threatening symptoms, such as anaphylactic shock, may require emergency medical treatment

Symptoms usually begin right after exposure once a person is sensitized to the latex protein. Sometimes, dermatitis caused by skin irritation from wearing gloves, from frequent hand washing, or sensitivity to chemicals in the gloves may be confused for latex allergy.

persons hand with blue light

Train employees to take precautions to minimize exposures if they are allergic. They need to:

(1) Read labels on products they use to see if they contain latex.

(2) Use products that do not contain latex, whenever possible.

(3) Use powder-free latex gloves. Latex protein attaches to the powder, creating the risk of inhaling latex protein.

(4) Practice good housekeeping and frequently clean any surfaces that might have latex dust.

(5) Practice good hygiene wash hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly after removing latex gloves or after skin contact with other latex products.

Give employees information on how to report any work-related allergic reactions and what to do if a latex allergy is confirmed. Give these instructions: (1) tell your supervisor about any latex allergy symptoms related to your job; (2) see your doctor about treatment for latex allergy. Some medications can effectively treat symptoms.

If latex allergy is confirmed, then avoid latex as directed by your physician. Use alternative products whenever possible to prevent exposure and cooperate with your supervisor if an assignment change is required to prevent exposure. Also, know what to do if you or a coworkers experience an allergic reaction. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet if you are severely allergic.