3.1  Introduction

3.2  General Recommendations

3.3  Glove Materials and Types

3.4  Glove Selection

3.1       Introduction

Gloves are an integral piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) at UTMB.  Gloves are used in research, healthcare, animal, grounds keeping and mechanical areas. Attention to glove type and glove material is essential to providing protection for the intended use. No single glove type or material is universally appropriate.


3.2       General Recommendations

         Gloves should be worn when handing hazardous biological material or when protection of the biological material from contamination is required.

         Gloves chosen should be of a material known to be resistant to permeation by the agent for the duration of use, while allowing sufficient dexterity. 

         Inspect gloves for discoloration, small holes or tears before use.  Remember that all waterproof gloves will develop pinholes over time.

         Remove gloves before touching objects such as doorknobs, elevator button, telephones or computers.

         Reusable gloves should be washed and inspected before and after each use.

         Remove gloves and wash hands before leaving the laboratory. 

Note:  Wearing the wrong type of glove could be more hazardous than wearing no gloves by:

          giving a false sense of protection

          holding the hazardous agent in prolonged contact with the skin

          creating new hazards by decreasing dexterity

          Gloves are not to be worn outside the laboratory. Containers/equipments are to be placed inside a disinfected closed container and marked appropriately prior to leaving the laboratory.


3.3       Glove Materials and Types

The most common glove material used when handling biologicals are:


-          powdered

-          powder free

         polyvinyl chloride (PVC)



3.4       Glove Selection

When selecting gloves one should consider the type of work and type of hazard.  Important parameters for gloves for physical protection of the hands include material strength, dexterity, permeation, abrasion, and heat or cold resistance. When working with biologicals it is important to also consider the chemicals that are being used in order to choose the correct glove material for both biological and chemical protection.  This may involve gloves changes or double-gloving to provide the best protection for the particular job. 

Problems with latex gloves include reaction and/or allergies to both the powder and the latex material itself.  Gloves are available that are powderless. Contact Environmental Health and Safety for glove selection and report suspected allergic reactions to UTMB Employee Health Center. 

The following factors should be considered when selecting gloves:

         Chemicals will ultimately penetrate a glove, and may do so without evidence of damage to the material.

         Although gloves may protect against a biological hazard, they may not protect against a chemical or a mixture of chemicals.

         Higher temperatures than room temperature decrease break-though time of most materials.

         Thicker materials or multiple layers are usually better for combined biological and chemical use.

         Contaminated gloves must be discarded after use.

         Surgical gloves, in general, must meet strict quality standards and may provide a higher level of protection when working with more hazardous agents/tasks. 

Note:      Disposable gloves are designed for single use.  Do NOT reuse these gloves.  Dispose of them in the appropriate container after use. 

Additional information regarding gloves and chemical use is found in the UTMB Safety Manual, Chemical Safety chapter.