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Details of Latex glove legislation

A Massachusetts bill has been drafted:
An Act Relative To Latex Glove Safety
Chapter 111 of the general laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 217 the following new section:
Section 218. Latex Glove Safety.

(a) Any health care facility regulated by the commonwealth of Massachusetts which uses latex gloves shall post a notice informing employees and the public:

(1) that natural rubber latex gloves are used by said regulated entity;

(2) that exposure to latex may result in the development of an allergy;

(3) that allergic reactions to natural rubber latex can manifest by skin rash, hives, nasal and eye irritation, asthma, and shock; and

(4) that should you or your family experience allergic reaction symptoms, then you should contact your health care provider.

(b) Said notice shall include letters which are at least threeeighths (3/8) of an inch high and be posted in conspicuous areas throughout the facility.

(c) Said notice shall be posted in English, Spanish, and other languages served by the health care facility.

(d) Health care workers shall be provided with initial and periodic education pertaining to latex safety.

(e) Health care facilities shall ensure that direct care workers are represented on latex allergy or safety committees.

(f) It shall be the duty of the commissioner of the Department of Public Health to enforce the provisions of this chapter and to prosecute all persons who violate this chapter. In all such enforcements and prosecutions, the director shall not be required to enter into any recognizance or give surety for costs.

(g) Any facility which violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of five hundred dollars ($500), and may be subject to any and all penalties provided for in general laws which regulate said industry, including revocation of licenses.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage. The bill is crafted after the Rhode Island bill that successfully passed in the Rhode Island Legislature in 2001.

After two years of activity around the issue of latex allergy and a Latex Allergy Advisory Committee formed by former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, the latex glove safety act in Rhode Island successfully passed in the Legislature.

The bill was prepared as a public health protection bill.

The Rhode Island Department of Public Health subsequently developed regulations that relate to R23-73-LAT. In part, the regulations state:

  • The use of disposable non-sterile and sterile natural rubber latex gloves is prohibited in food service.
  • Any business or industry that utilizes natural rubber gloves must provide their workers with education related to latex allergy and provide non-latex gloves that minimize exposure to latex and protect health care workers from bloodborne pathogens.
  • Must post a warning that states:
    Latex gloves are used in this facility.
    Repeated contact with latex may cause a latex allergy or may worsen a present latex allergy.

Reactions to latex may include: skin rash, hives, asthma, nasal eye and sinus irritation, and allergic shock (anaphylactic shock). If you or your family are having these symptoms, call your health care provider (your physician, nurse or dentist) immediately.

A second Massachusetts bill has been filed and states:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled and by the authority of same, as follows:

Section 1 Chapter 111 of the general Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 119 B.

Section 199C. No person employed in a health clinic, acute care hospital or physician’s office shall use disposable, nonsterile or sterile natural latex gloves. The department shall promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section.

Section 2. That a special commission to consist of 2 members of the Senate, 3 members of the House of Representatives, the commissioner of public health and his designee and 3 persons to be appointed by the governor is hereby established for the purpose of making an investigation and study of the problem of latex allergies and people exposed to disposable, non-sterile and sterile latex gloves; Said commission shall report to the general court the results of its investigation and study, if any together with drafts of legislation necessary to carry such recommendations into effect by filing same with the clerk of the House of Representatives on or before the first Wednesday of December 2003.