Hands are porous and can act like a sponge. Chemicals that are not meant for the body to absorb are used on a daily basis in a dental practice. Wearing the appropriate hand protection for a task is very important. The gloves used to treat patients are very different than the gloves to be worn to process instruments.
Wearing clinic gloves to process instruments is very dangerous. Over half of the sharps incidents that occur in dental practices, occur while processing instruments in the Sterilization Area. In the great majority of those incidents occurring during instrument processing, thicker, chemical-resistant, gloves can be the difference between a clinician suffering a dirty stick or not. Instrument processing gloves are referred to as utility gloves and should be puncture resistant...
They may be clumsy at first but are the safe choice. Many manufacturers offer different sizes, which eliminates many of the complaints about clumsiness. Employers must select the appropriate hand protection and require employees to use it. Hands need to be protected from exposure to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, thermal burns, and harmful temperature extremes. Employers should base their selection of hand protection on the performance features of the protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.
Having clinical staff switch from clinical gloves (aka exam gloves) to utility gloves can be an inconvenience, especially if the practice’s schedule is thrown topsy-turvy with a couple of dental emergency patients worked into an already full schedule. In an effort to stay on schedule, sometimes shortcuts are taken, and one of the first places to shave off a minute is to ignore safety procedures. If a clinician has done the same thing for ten years without an injury, it is an easy thing to rationalize. We all know “Murphy” lives in dental practices, however……… It only takes one time to change a life forever.
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