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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Archived Through 2012
 FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Archived Through 2012



We have our assistants and hygienists do a clean wipe of their room with a pair of heavy duty utility gloves and a clean wipe with a different pair of heavy duty utility gloves. We have one hygienist that refuses to use the utility gloves. She will only use latex. She thinks that using the same pair of utility gloves will contaminate what she has just cleaned. What are the OSHA rules on this?

First and foremost, you should consult the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) supplied by the manufacturer of disinfecting agents you are using. OSAP does not test or evaluate products, therefore, the MSDS should list the appropriate personal protective equipment to wear when handling and working with the product. You may also contact the manufacture of disinfecting agent to obtain testing data and results concerning the penetrability of different gloves by their product and whether it has been shown to compromise the integrity of latex exam gloves.

With regard to OSHA, the regulations only state the following:


Application. Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. (1)

When there is occupational exposure, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices. (1)

Gloves shall be worn when it can be reasonably anticipated that the employee may have hand contact with blood, other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin; and when handling or touching contaminated items or surfaces. (1)

Utility gloves, often called "rubber" gloves, such as those which may be used for housekeeping chores, are of more substantial construction than surgical or examination gloves. (1)

Utility gloves may be decontaminated for re-use if the integrity of the glove is not compromised. However, they must be discarded if they are cracked, peeling, torn, punctured, or exhibit other signs of deterioration or when their ability to function as a barrier is compromised. (1)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings state that if barriers are not used, surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected between patients by using an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with an HIV, HBV claim (i.e., low-level disinfectant) or a tuberculocidal claim (i.e., intermediate-level disinfectant). Intermediate-level disinfectant should be used when the surface is visibly contaminated with blood or OPIM. Also, general cleaning and disinfection are recommended for clinical contact surfaces, dental unit surfaces, and countertops at the end of daily work activities and are required if surfaces have become contaminated since their last cleaning. To facilitate daily cleaning, treatment areas should be kept free of unnecessary equipment and supplies. (2)

Manufacturers of dental devices and equipment should provide information regarding material compatibility with liquid chemical germicides, whether equipment can be safely immersed for cleaning, and how it should be decontaminated if servicing is required. Because of the risks associated with exposure to chemical disinfectants and contaminated surfaces, DHCP who perform environmental cleaning and disinfection should wear gloves and other PPE to prevent occupational exposure to infectious agents and hazardous chemicals. Chemical- and puncture-resistant utility gloves offer more protection than patient examination gloves when using hazardous chemicals. (2)

The authors of OSAP's From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines state that puncture and chemical resistant heavy duty utility gloves should be used for cleaning instruments, performing decontamination, and during housekeeping procedures that involve potential blood or body fluid contact. (3)

According to dental infection control experts, regardless of the disinfectant utilized, heavy utility gloves should be worn. The authors of Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, state that in order to provide more protection for the hands during operatory cleanup and handling of instruments than that provided by the think latex or vinyl patient care gloves or thin copolymer or plastic gloves, one should use utility gloves of nitrile or heavy latex when preparing and using chemicals, pre-cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces, and handling contaminated items during instrument processing. Each person in the office needing these gloves should have his or her own pair or pairs. (4)

1) OSHA:

2) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Guidelines for Infection Control in
Dental Healthcare Settings.

3) From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines. Copyright by OSAP 2004.

4) Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 3rd. Edition. 
By Miller and Palenik. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Copyright 2005.







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