In workplaces where gloves are utilised, it is common for allergy management programs to focus on the understanding and treatment of latex protein allergy.
Less recognised, yet arguably more widespread, is the link between chemicals used in the manufacture of gloves and a range of allergic reactions. Understanding the difference allows safety and operations managers to design and develop suitable programs to effectively manage risk.
Glove manufacturers use a variety of chemicals to produce both NRL and synthetic rubber gloves. Chemical allergies are an immunological response to one or more of those substances, despite manufacturers conducting a process of leaching and washing to lessen residual chemical levels in the finished product.
Of these chemicals, the accelerator group is known to induce most chemical allergies. In glove manufacturing, this chemical group is used to stabilise the raw material and to improve and enhance barrier qualities, providing material strength and improving integrity of the finished product.
As the link between accelerators and chemical allergies became clear, manufacturers started to develop alternative options and produce non-latex, accelerator-free hand protection solutions designed to offer the protection and safety required for any allergy profile.