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12/17/2008

Proper Glove Storage and Life Expectancy

By Barb Garrison, M.S., CHMM, CET

When I conduct funeral home safety compliance audits, one question I ask is: "What type of protective clothing do employees wear when they perform removals?" Fortunately,
all respondents have indicated they wear gloves, and most carry fluid-resistant gowns in their vehicles in case the situation calls for more protection. While I applaud the
use of gloves, it occurred to me during the last audit I conducted that I should remind removal personnel of a couple of important glove considerations.

First, did you know some glove manufacturers have assigned expiration dates for their gloves? According to a representative from the Best Glove Company, their latex gloves have a shelf life of three years and their nitrile gloves have a shelf life of five years. They print the expiration date on each box of gloves. Now, you probably go through gloves at such a rate that you would not have any laying around that long, but you should check to see if the gloves you're using do, indeed, have an expiration date on the box. If they don't, contact the glove manufacturer to find out how long they are guaranteed to be fluid-resistant.

Second, it is essential that gloves and other personal protective equipment be stored properly. The storage area should be dry, cool and well-ventilated. Do not store gloves in direct sunlight, in moist environments, or in areas where they would be exposed to extreme temperatures or dust. So, where are you storing the gloves you take on removals? If you're storing them IN the recovery vehicle, you're probably shortening their life expectancy!

Third, don't forget you must inspect your gloves each time you put them on. If you notice a glove is hard, brittle or loses its elasticity, or turns too soft and does not return into shape after being stretched, the glove has probably degraded and should not be worn. If you notice a change of color in a glove, this is also a sign the glove should not be worn.

If you have any questions about the information in this article or any other health, safety or environmental issue, please contact me at bgarrison@safex.us or by phone, toll-free, at 866-723-3987.


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