5.28 Latex-Free Policy
Part 1. Purpose
Central Lakes College (CLC) recognizes its responsibility for the health, welfare, and safety of students, faculty, administration, and staff. The purpose of the Latex-Free Policy is to reduce, so far as is reasonably possible, the exposure to latex for students and employees on CLC campuses. This policy applies to CLC employees, students, visitors, and events on CLC campuses. This policy does not apply to academic programs or departments that need latex-containing supplies and equipment as part of their job where an alternative is unavailable. In such cases, the department and tasks will be identified in this policy as exempt to help minimize exposure. Nitrile or vinyl gloves are generally a good replacement for latex gloves. Please see Safety Officer if you have questions on glove selection.
Part 2. Background
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 10 people is sensitive to natural rubber latex. Among individuals with latex allergy, repeated exposure to latex results in sensitization and an increased risk of allergic reactions. Federal law requires medical products and packaging with natural rubber latex to carry a statement on the label: “Caution: This Product Contains Natural Rubber Latex Which May Cause Allergic Reactions.” However, products are not required to be labeled “latex-free,” so creating a latex-free environment can prove challenging. Serious reactions to latex and related health problems among latex-sensitive individuals can be minimized or prevented with a thorough understanding of the risks of latex allergies and implementing strategies to reduce these risks.
Part 3. Prevention Measures
Latex allergy can be prevented by protecting employees from undue latex exposure. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends employees and employers take the following steps to protect workers from latex exposure and allergy in the workplace:
A. Appropriate barrier protection is necessary when handling infectious materials. For example, if latex gloves are required, use powder-free gloves with reduced protein content.
B. Use non-latex gloves when there is little potential for contact with infectious materials (e.g., food service).
C. Ensure that employees use good housekeeping practices to remove latex-containing dust from the workplace (frequently clean contaminated areas and change ventilation filters and vacuum bags regularly).
D. Provide employees with education programs and training materials about latex allergy. Employees should be familiar with procedures for preventing latex allergy and should learn to recognize the symptoms of latex allergy.
E. Screen high-risk employees for latex allergy symptoms periodically. Detecting symptoms early and preventing further latex exposure is essential for preventing long-term effects.
F. Evaluate current prevention strategies whenever an employee is diagnosed with latex allergy.
G. After removing latex gloves, please wash your hands with mild soap and dry them thoroughly.
Individuals who develop symptoms of latex allergy should avoid direct contact with latex gloves and other latex-containing products until evaluated by a physician experienced in diagnosing latex allergy.
* NIOSH Publication No. 97-135, June 1997
Part 4. College Responsibilities
Employees who use and/or procure supplies for Central Lakes College shall abide by the following rules:
A. Use of latex gloves is prohibited except when deemed exempt from this policy.
B. Use/display of latex balloons is prohibited.
C. Educational materials on latex allergies are available to students/employees upon request through the Safety Officer.
D. If necessary, employees will be shown proper skin protection techniques for working with staff who are sensitive or allergic to latex.
E. Departments should identify existing items on campus that contain latex. As existing equipment is replaced, no-latex equipment should be purchased, if available.
F. If non-latex materials are unavailable, skin contact precautions will be utilized with anyone with a latex allergy or sensitivity.
G. Signage shall be used in areas with a risk of latex exposure.
Part 5. Employee Responsibilities
A. Notify your supervisor if you have a latex allergy.
B. Notify your supervisor if you see latex-containing materials in your work area.
C. Notify your supervisor if you have an allergic reaction to latex in the workplace. After you receive medical care, you and your supervisor should submit a First Report of Injury Form.
Part 6. Students and visitor use
A. Faculty and staff shall ensure affected students and visitors shall comply with the above guidelines as applicable.
Part 7. Exemptions
A. Catheters are used for training purposes in the nursing program.
B. Glove use and latex-containing chemicals for Agricultural programs.
C. Condoms are dispersed by Student Life and partners and used by the theater shop for waterproofing electronics.
D. Emergency medical personnel dispatched to campuses.
E. Yoga mats bought to campus for exercise.
Date of implementation/Presidential Approval: 10/252022
Date of last review: 10/252022