June 21, 2021
Using gloves in a food service, medical, or hazardous setting is crucial for safety and contamination prevention. However, one pair of disposable gloves will not last all day, and it is important to know how often and in which situations to dispose of one pair and don another. Below are some guidelines for safe and sanitary practices regarding how often you should change your gloves.
FOOD SERVICE GLOVES
When switching tasks
Whenever you switch from one task to another, gloves should be thrown away and changed. This prevents cross-contamination, and it can prevent the spread of pathogens that cause illness. For example, gloves should be changed (and hands should be washed) after taking out the trash, handling raw meat, using the restroom, or when switching from one station to another.
After handling raw meat or seafood
Raw meat and seafood can carry pathogens that can contaminate other ingredients if glove use guidelines are not followed. These pathogens can be carried on the surface of the gloves, and once another ingredient or surface is touched, the pathogens can be transferred.
When gloves are torn or dirty
If there is a hole or tear in a glove, there is a chance that your bare skin has touched food or other surfaces, so gloves must be changed, and hands must be washed. If your gloves are visibly dirty, you run the risk of contamination and should change your gloves.
After touching your hair, face, or body
You should dispose of your gloves and get a new pair after touching your hair, face, or clothing, as these areas carry bacteria that can be transferred to the food.
Before preparing food for a customer with an allergy
If an allergy or intolerance is specified by a customer, gloves should be changed before preparing their food. It is possible that there are remnants of a previous allergy-inducing ingredient on the gloves that can be transferred to the customer, so disposing of the gloves beforehand can prevent an unwanted allergic reaction.
After each patient
To prevent bacteria and pathogens from spreading from one patient to another, gloves should be changed, and hands washed, between each patient.
When gloves are punctured or torn
A puncture or tear in a glove can transfer bacteria and pathogens from the patient to the care provider, and vice versa. If you see a tear in your glove, it is imperative to wash your hands and change gloves immediately. You should also inspect your gloves regularly for tears.
When gloves are visibly soiled or contaminated
If your gloves are visibly contaminated, it is important to change gloves to prevent further contamination of the patient, the surrounding area, and yourself. Gloves should be inspected regularly for visible contamination.
SAFETY GLOVES (NON-DISPOSABLE)
When gloves show signs of wear
If your safety gloves are visibly distressed and no longer look new, you should wear a new pair. It is important that gloves maintain their efficacy while being worn to prevent injury or penetration through to the skin.
When gloves have visible damage
Gloves with visible damage, especially a hole or a tear, should be immediately replaced to prevent injury.
After testing indicates a change is necessary
Some safety gloves require an occasional re-testing of effectiveness, so the results of these tests should indicate further action. If it is indicated that a glove is not as effective as it originally was, it should be replaced immediately to prevent injury.
Use these basic guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone by changing gloves between tasks and after visible damage or contamination. Although there is no set amount of time that disposable gloves should be replaced with new gloves, we recommend frequent inspection and replacement of gloves after use with any strenuous or repetitive mechanical task. Even if disposable gloves such as those made of nitrile, latex and vinyl do not show noticeable damage after some extended wear time, it is good practice to replace disposable gloves often since even short glove use can risk for glove breakage and permeation. For an extended technical article on glove selection and use, especially in healthcare settings, check out our premium article HERE.