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Gloves

Misuse of gloves can often lead to spread of contamination. However, wearing gloves is appropriate in some circumstances, such as when contamination is known or suspected to be present and it cannot be removed from the surface prior to contact.

August 3, 2020

Here’s what you need to know:

  • When taken off properly and after sufficient hand washing, gloves may provide protection from contaminated surfaces
  • Misuse of gloves can often lead to spread of contamination
  • Wearing gloves does not negate the requirement to wash hands
  • There are certain conditions in which wearing gloves is appropriate
  • An 8-step guide to proper glove wearing is available

About Gloves

Generally, gloves should only be used when contamination is known or suspected to be present and it cannot be removed from the surface prior to contact. Overusing gloves reduces the supply chain and takes them from people in contaminated environments, such as healthcare workers, custodial staff, and first responders.

COVID-19 cannot be absorbed through the skin, so using gloves to protect yourself has limitations. The main route of COVID-19 exposure is from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or other respiratory secretion, entering your mouth or nose via close contact, usually closer than 6 feet.

A second route of exposure has been shown to be from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one's mouth, nose, or eyes prior to washing with soap or using approved sanitizer. When taken off properly and after sufficient hand washing, gloves provide protection from touching contaminated surfaces, provided no cross contamination has occurred.

Misuse of gloves can often lead to spread of contamination and provides a false sense of security. Wearing gloves does not negate the requirement to wash hands. There are certain conditions in which wearing gloves is appropriate:

  • Handling items which have had significant contact and cannot be sanitized prior to touching. Examples would be money, mail, packages, and similar items. 
  • Close contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Where chemical exposure is present (such as custodians involved in sanitation and disinfection). 

Remaining 6 feet away from all others, washing your hands throughout the day, routinely disinfecting all high touch surfaces, and not touching your face continue to be your best protection against illness.

Instructions for Wearing Gloves

  1. Determine and document using this table what tasks gloves would offer you protection and wear them only during those tasks.
    You may also document this in a JHA. Wearing gloves without a documented assessment is not allowed.
    If there is a way to change the work to minimize risk to the point where PPE (Personal Protective Equipment e.g. gloves) is not required, that must be attempted first.
  2. Wash your hands. CDC Handwashing Guidelines
  3. Inspect gloves for tears or degradation.
  4. Put gloves on.
  5. Follow your standard work process.
    You must not engage in any other activity while performing this task, such as touching your phone, water bottle, or computer, as that would cause cross-contamination
  6. After the task is complete, remove the gloves properly following the doffing guide and dispose of them in the trash.
    how to remove gloves step by step

  7. Wash your hands. CDC Handwashing Guidelines
  8. Decontaminate all objects that were used during the task.

It is never appropriate to wear gloves throughout your shift while touching multiple surfaces, as this spreads contamination. If you have concerns about the possibility of extensive surface contamination throughout the workplace please notify your supervisor.