In the COVID-19 pandemic, employers need a thoughtful approach to facility hygiene and personal protection more than ever before. Knowing how to put on gloves is an important skill for employees, particularly those in health care and custodial roles, both in pandemic and nonpandemic times.
Gloves protect employees against harmful chemicals and germs that cause disease. In health care settings, gloves also protect patients from infection.
Companies can optimize their approach by combining glove use, hand hygiene, and regular cleaning into a workplace hygiene strategy. This strategy includes learning how to choose disposable gloves, using gloves safely and effectively, and following sterile glove technique when needed.
Gloves form a protective barrier between the wearer and the environment, protecting the skin from contact with germs. Employees can improve glove use by knowing when, why, and how to wear gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE)—and what mistakes to avoid.
Gloves (and other recommended PPE) help prevent the spread of germs in facilities and workplaces. In health care settings, gloves protect patients and staff from pathogens that cause disease.
Custodial staff should wear masks, wash hands frequently, and wear disposable gloves to clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces, per COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Restaurant workers should wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting, handling garbage bags or trash, and touching used food service items, according to the CDC.
Germs spread easily from people and contaminated surfaces via unwashed hands. To ensure effective glove and PPE use, organizations need a proactive approach to promoting hand hygiene, which is crucial to workplace hygiene.
Protect your workplace by providing abundant handwashing supplies and hand sanitizer, as well as education about hand hygiene.
Proper handwashing technique involves scrubbing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds to thoroughly remove dirt, grease, and germs. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water are not available or after handwashing for additional protection. Hand sanitizer is less effective than soap and water at removing certain germs and contaminants. Frequent hand sanitizing can also cause dry hands.
Health care workers perform hand hygiene before donning or doffing gloves and when changing gloves that are damaged or soiled with bodily fluids.
Protect yourself by choosing correctly sized gloves. Gloves that are too large let in contaminants and reduce dexterity, while gloves that are too small can tear. If gloves tear during use, remove them, wash your hands, and put on a new pair.
When removing disposable gloves and PPE, avoid touching the outside surface with your bare hands or contaminating your surroundings.
Avoid latex gloves when possible. Latex proteins can cause mild to severe reactions via skin contact and inhaled particles from glove powder. Other reactions to latex gloves include allergic contact dermatitis from chemicals used in the latex manufacturing process and irritant contact dermatitis. An estimated 9.7 percent of health care workers worldwide have a latex allergy.
Also avoid using powdered gloves, especially for medical purposes and food handling. In 2016, the FDA banned powdered gloves[EE1] for these uses due to health risks.
Always follow your facility’s procedures for donning and doffing N95 respirators, face shields, face masks, and other PPE. To use PPE effectively, perform hand hygiene before and after wearing PPE and avoid contact with PPE exteriors, which are contaminated once used.
Following glove best practices involves good preparation and hygiene and sound knowledge about the task.
Before donning gloves, remove watches and other jewelry from your wrists and hands. Wash hands according to hand hygiene best practices, and ensure the environment is clean. Check the gloves for damage.
Before donning sterile gloves, prepare a clean work area by wiping away dust and cleaning washable surfaces. Cover your work area with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Correct glove use prevents discomfort and harm from chemical exposure, particularly in education, health care, and laboratory settings. When working in these settings, avoid touching common surfaces with your gloved hands, and choose the right glove material for any chemicals you will use.
All workers should change gloves frequently (immediately, if contaminated) and never allow gloves to substitute for regular handwashing. Avoid cross contamination by changing gloves when you change tasks. And never reuse disposable gloves.
On occasion, custodial staff may use reusable gloves when disposable glove supplies are low. Review the correct process for disinfecting gloves for reuse.
Ensure you understand how to put on gloves for optimal protection.
Always choose a glove that is safe and suitable for the task. Nitrile gloves offer many of the same benefits and protections as latex gloves and are popular for medical and cleaning uses. Vinyl gloves offer less protection and dexterity than nitrile or latex gloves but are appropriate for food handling and low-risk, routine cleaning.
Choose the correct-sized gloves and remove jewelry, then follow the steps below to don your gloves.
First, perform hand hygiene. As you don the gloves, avoid touching their outer surfaces.
Start by gloving your dominant hand (your writing hand). Hold the glove with your other hand and slide your dominant hand into the glove.
Then use your gloved hand to hold the remaining glove and insert your nondominant hand. Adjust the fit of each glove to cover each hand securely and comfortably. Pull the cuffs over your wrists to provide optimal protection and security.
Check for tears. If you find any, remove your gloves and start the process over.
Learn how to safely remove gloves here.
When health care workers maintain a clean workspace, perform hand hygiene, and carefully don non sterile gloves, they are performing clean glove technique.
However, some medical procedures require a stricter approach to infection control known as sterile glove technique.
Sterile gloves are one of the key barriers used in aseptic technique, the set of practices used to eliminate germs and prevent infection during certain health care procedures. Sterile gloves are germ-free, and using them prevents pathogens from transferring from the health care worker or environment to the patient.
To don sterile gloves correctly, health care workers follow careful procedures to avoid contaminating the exterior of the gloves with their own skin or the surrounding environment.
To don, prepare a clean, protected workspace, choose the right-sized gloves, and place the glove package on the workspace. Wear a mask if required.
Thoroughly wash and dry your hands. Carefully open the outer and inner packaging, avoiding parts of the packaging in contact with the gloves.
Glove your dominant hand first. Pick up the first glove by the folded cuff, touching only the exposed inside surface of the glove (the part that will touch your skin). Insert your hand, and carefully pull with your other hand to adjust the glove, touching only the inside surface.
Use your gloved hand to pick up the remaining glove by sliding fingers inside the glove cuff and touching only the outside surface of the glove. Avoid contact between your gloved hand and your bare hand and wrist as you don and adjust the second glove.
Keep your hands above your waist and in front of you. If you accidentally touch something that is not sterile, remove your gloves and start over. Wash your hands at the end of the sterile procedure.
Support clean glove and sterile glove technique by cleaning and disinfecting your facility thoroughly and understanding the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.
To clean surfaces, use soap or detergent to remove dirt and grease, then rinse with warm water. After cleaning, sanitize surfaces using a product designed to kill around 99.9 percent of germs.
In high-risk settings (such as hospitals) and areas requiring higher protection, disinfect surfaces to eliminate germs. Disinfectants kill all bacteria and viruses and take longer to work than sanitizers.
Glove use is a critical piece of your facility’s workplace hygiene plan. Combined with hand hygiene and regular cleaning, glove best practices prevent exposure to harmful chemicals and pathogens and minimize the transfer of germs, reducing COVID-19 transmission.
In health care settings, hand hygiene and correct glove and PPE use protect the health and safety of both health care workers and patients. And when needed, sterile glove technique provides extra patient protection.
Spruce Industries can help businesses and schools optimize their approach by choosing the right gloves and glove procedures and by cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting effectively. Learning how to put on gloves empowers your staff and protects your community.
Explore our educational resources and contact us to get started.