Selecting Smart Hand Protection for Laboratories
Working with the chemicals and specialized equipment found in laboratory environments requires specific hand protection. This also applies to laboratory process integrity and test results that are at higher risk of contamination or cross-contamination.
Whether hands need to be protected from chemical or bacterial hazards or from cuts and temperature extremes, the choice of hand protection can provide optimal safety, comfort, and efficiency.
Every laboratory task presents its own challenges, along with pathways to achieve the best results. Researchers must often wear gloves for extended periods, so it’s important that glove materials are allergen-free and keep hands dry and comfortable.
Consider whether the application requires:
- Grip in wet or dry conditions
- Protection from fluid splash or permeation
- Protection from biohazard or bacterial exposure
- Protection against cuts and abrasions
Chemical exposure to spills or splashes is the most prevalent hazard in laboratory environments. Typically, lab procedures include the use of acids, bases, inorganic and organic chemicals, and various solvents. A wide range of protection is needed for this variety of chemicals as well as new chemical entities for which complete toxicological testing has not been performed.
To choose the right protection from chemical exposures:
- Recognize that gloves deliver different levels of protection based on construction materials, length, thickness, and other factors
- Conduct a hazard assessment, review chemical labels, and consider all substances that the wearer may contact
- Assess whether the wearer requires chemical splash or immersion protection
- Determine the duration of exposure to specific chemicals
Biological Hazard Protection
Laboratory workers can be exposed to biological hazards through microbiological or DNA research and analysis of biological fluids. This work may involve contact with bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans, which can cause skin irritation, allergies, infections (such as tuberculosis and AIDS), and other detrimental health effects.
Some test procedures may also require that samples be protected against potential contamination from human skin, dust, and microorganisms or from cross-contamination between samples.
Select hand protection that allows you to perform tasks efficiently while offering a positive sensory experience combined with high-level barrier protection. Consider whether the glove can provide a positive grip and easy donning and doffing between tasks. Glove length may be a factor, along with dexterity and tactility demands.
Research into materials and manufacturing techniques has produced ongoing improvements and many new options to help researchers and lab workers derive maximum value from their gloves. The most common laboratory glove materials are natural rubber latex, nitrile, and neoprene.
Natural rubber latex offers a comfortable fit but provides less chemical splash protection than nitrile and neoprene. Recent innovations have increased the comfort of wearing neoprene gloves.
Natural rubber latex can pose a health risk for people with Type I allergies (immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reactions). Those who suffer from Type IV allergies (cell-mediated or delayed hypersensitivity) may benefit from using nitrile or neoprene gloves that are free from chemical accelerants.
Ansell Glove Solutions
Ansell offers high-performance, task-specific barrier protection solutions for mechanical, thermal, and chemical protection in laboratories. Their experience, knowledge, and manufacturing skills produce gloves that protect you from biological contamination, allergens, and chemical permeation.
Experience in the world’s most demanding markets has helped Ansell develop a comprehensive range of fit-for-purpose hand protection products that deliver the performance and value demanded in the highly competitive global research environment.