Practising physical distancing and maintaining good hygiene is the best defence against the spread of COVID-19 and will usually be a better control measure than wearing gloves.

Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient can help to minimise the spread of germs.  

While gloves (such as disposable or multi-use) should still be used for some practices (such as food handling, cleaning, gardening and trades), washing hands with soap and water is one of the best defences to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

If gloves are not used appropriately, they can pose a risk of spreading germs, putting workers and others at risk. When a person wears gloves, they may come into contact with germs which are then transferred to other objects or their face if they don’t replace and dispose of or clean their gloves between tasks. Gloves are not a substitute for frequent hand washing. Complacency while wearing gloves can reduce hand hygiene.  

Disposable gloves should be replaced regularly. Multi-use gloves should be kept clean, washed and stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions or workplace policy.  Disposable gloves should not be re-used and multi-use gloves should not be shared between workers. 

Who should wear gloves to protect against COVID-19?

You should consider whether using gloves or hand washing is the best measure for preventing the spread of germs in your workplace. This involves thinking about what workers will touch, how long the task will take, who workers may come into contact with and the practicality of using gloves for a task. It may be more practical to require workers to wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser than to wear gloves. Importantly, not all gloves are appropriate for all tasks. A risk assessment with appropriate consultation must be conducted to help inform what gloves are appropriate for your workplace.  See also our information on risk assessment and consultation.

If you decide your workers will be required to wear disposable gloves be aware that wearing gloves may result in new WHS risks. For example, wearing disposable gloves could cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis or other sensitivities in some workers. 

For some industries, gloves are used to protect against other hazards. You should consider whether you need to change or modify this practice as a result of COVID-19. In all workplaces, workers must ensure they are complying with good hygiene practices, including hand washing.

If you choose to supply or use gloves in your workplace, make sure the gloves are suitable for the work of your business or undertaking. For example, gloves made of PVC, rubber, nitrile or neoprene are recommended for protection against exposure to ‘biological hazards’. 

Medical gloves form part of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those who work in health care and patients to protect them from the spread of infection. Medical gloves protect the wearer and the patient. Not all gloves are medical grade. Disposable, non-sterile gloves that are not medical grade are also available. 

Medical gloves include: 

  • examination gloves (sterile and non-sterile) 
  • surgical gloves, and 
  • chemotherapy gloves. 

Medical gloves can be made of latex, vinyl, synthetic polymer or nitrile. Use of medical grade gloves should be restricted to health care settings. 

Information on wearing gloves in health care settings can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website

Do I need to provide gloves?

Depending on your workplace (type of work, the workers and others who come into the workplace), gloves can be provided as PPE. However, gloves won’t be necessary in many workplaces. 

A risk assessment and appropriate consultation must be conducted to help inform what gloves, if any, are appropriate for your workplace. If you choose to supply or use gloves, you should make sure the gloves are suitable for the work; not all gloves are appropriate for all work or workplaces. For example, gloves made of PVC, rubber, nitrile or neoprene are recommended for protection against exposure to ‘biological hazards’. 

Be aware that wearing gloves may result in new WHS risks. For example, wearing disposable gloves could cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis or other sensitivities in some workers.

When providing gloves, workers must be trained in how to put on, use, remove and dispose of gloves. You must provide the appropriate facilities to use gloves properly including a hand washing area, with adequate soap, water and paper towels and a sealed bin for disposal. 

Even if your workers wear gloves in your workplace, you should ensure that they have good hygiene practices including washing hands frequently.

See also our information on hygiene.

Practising physical distancing and maintaining good hygiene is the best defence against the spread of COVID-19 and will usually be a better control measure than wearing gloves.

You and your workers must wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient to minimise the spread of germs.

While gloves (such as disposable or multi-use) should still be used for some practices (such as food handling, cleaning, gardening and trades), washing hands with soap and water is one of the best defences to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If gloves are not used appropriately, they can pose a risk of spreading germs, putting you, your workers and others at risk. When you wear gloves, you may come into contact with germs which are then transferred to other objects or your face if you don’t replace and dispose of or clean your gloves between tasks. Gloves are not a substitute for frequent hand washing. Complacency while wearing gloves can reduce hand hygiene.

Disposable gloves should be replaced regularly. Multi-use gloves should be kept clean, washed and stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions or workplace policy. Disposable gloves should not be reused and multi-use gloves should not be shared, for example, between workers.

Who should wear gloves to protect against COVID-19?

You should consider whether using gloves or washing of hands is the best measure for preventing the spread of germs in your workplace. This involves thinking about what workers will touch, how long the task will take, who workers may come into contact with and the practicality of using gloves for a task. It may be more practical to require workers to wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser than to wear gloves. Importantly, not all gloves are appropriate for all tasks. A risk assessment with appropriate consultation must be conducted to help inform what gloves are appropriate for your workplace. See also our information on risk assessments and consultation.

If you decide you and your workers will wear disposable gloves be aware that wearing gloves may result in new WHS risks. For example, wearing disposable gloves could cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis or other sensitivities in some workers.

For some industries, gloves are used to protect against other hazards. You should consider whether you need to change or modify this practice as a result of COVID-19. In all workplaces, workers must ensure they are complying with good hygiene practices, including hand washing.

If you choose to supply or use gloves in your workplace, make sure the gloves are suitable for the work of your business or undertaking. For example, gloves made of PVC, rubber, nitrile or neoprene are recommended for protection against exposure to ‘biological hazards’. 

Medical gloves form part of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those who work in health care and patients to protect them from the spread of infection. Medical gloves protect the wearer and the patient. Not all gloves are medical grade. Disposable, non-sterile gloves that are not medical grade are also available. 

Medical gloves include: 

  • examination gloves (sterile and non-sterile) 
  • surgical gloves, and 
  • chemotherapy gloves. 

Medical gloves can be made of latex, vinyl, synthetic polymer or nitrile. Use of medical grade gloves should be restricted to health care settings.

Information on wearing gloves in health care settings can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website

Do I need to provide gloves?

Depending on your workplace (type of work, the workers and others who come into the workplace), gloves can be provided as PPE. However, gloves won’t be necessary in many workplaces. 

A risk assessment and appropriate consultation must be conducted to help inform what gloves, if any, are appropriate for your workplace. If you choose to supply or use gloves, you should make sure the gloves are suitable for the work; not all gloves are appropriate for all work or workplaces. Gloves made of PVC, rubber, nitrile or neoprene are recommended for protection against exposure to ‘biological hazards’.

Be aware that wearing gloves may result in new WHS risks. For example, wearing disposable gloves could cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis or other sensitivities in some workers.

When providing gloves, workers must be trained in how to put on, use, remove and dispose of gloves. You must provide the appropriate facilities to use gloves properly including a hand washing area, with adequate soap, water and paper towels and a sealed bin for disposal.

Even if your workers wear gloves in your workplace, you should ensure that they are have good hygiene practices including washing hands frequently.

See also our information on hygiene.

How to put on and take off gloves

If you do wear gloves, either disposable or multi-use, you can follow the steps below to prevent the spread of germs: 

1. Before starting (and after finishing a task), wash your hands with soap and water or if not available, with alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

  • Wash your hands before touching a pair of gloves.  
  • When putting the gloves on try to only touch the top edge of the glove at the wrist.

2. During the task: maintain good hygiene by not touching your face and coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Monitor what you touch and replace your gloves frequently. 

  • Replace your gloves every time you would wash or sanitise your hands. 

3. After completing the task, think about what you’ve touched and consider whether there is a risk of spreading the germs from your gloves if you start a new task. Your work tasks may not vary much but could involve touching different objects or attending to different customers or people. Consider whether disposable gloves, hand washing or using hand sanitiser is the best measure for the next task.

4. Taking off gloves: 

  • Carefully remove the first glove by gripping at the wrist edge without touching the skin and pull downwards away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.  
  • With the ungloved hand, slide your fingers into the glove and peel the glove downwards away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.   
  • If you are wearing disposable gloves dispose of them in a sealed bin.  
  • If you are wearing multi-use gloves clean and store them according to the manufacturer’s instructions or your workplace policy. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or if not available, with alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 

There is an infographic on putting and removing gloves on the Australian Government Department of Health website

Practising physical distancing and maintaining good hygiene is the best defence against the spread of COVID-19 and will usually be a better control measure than wearing gloves.

Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient can help to minimise the spread of germs.

While gloves (such as disposable or multi-use) should still be used for some practices (such as food handling, cleaning, gardening and trades), washing hands with soap and water is one of the best defences to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If gloves are not used appropriately, they can pose a risk of spreading germs, putting yourself and others at risk. When you wear gloves, you may come into contact with germs which are then transferred to other objects or your face if you don’t replace and dispose of or clean your gloves between tasks. Gloves are not a substitute for frequent hand washing. Complacency while wearing gloves can reduce hand hygiene.

Disposable gloves should be replaced regularly and they should not reused.

Multi-use gloves should be kept clean, washed and stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions or workplace policy. Do not share multi-use gloves with others workers. 

Who should wear gloves to protect against COVID-19?

Your employer should consider whether using gloves or washing hands is the best measure for preventing the spread of germs in your workplace. This involves thinking about what you and other workers will touch, how long the task will take, who workers may come into contact with and the practicality of using gloves for a task. It may be more practical for workers to wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser than to wear gloves. Your employer must undertake a risk assessment with appropriate consultation with you and other workers to help inform what gloves are appropriate for your workplace.

Information on wearing gloves in health care settings can be found at the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Medical gloves form part of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those who work in health care and patients to protect them from the spread of infection. Medical gloves protect the wearer and the patient. Not all gloves are medical grade. Disposable, non-sterile gloves that are not medical grade are also available. 

Medical gloves include:

  • examination gloves (sterile and non-sterile) 
  • surgical gloves, and 
  • chemotherapy gloves. 

Medical gloves can be made of latex, vinyl, synthetic polymer or nitrile. Use of medical grade gloves should be restricted to health care settings.

Do I need to wear gloves?

If you are feeling well, there is no need to wear gloves, other than in line with your workplaces normal glove policy, for example, for handling food. Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or where you cannot wash your hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient is the recommended way to minimise the spread of germs. 

How to put on and take off gloves

If you do wear gloves, either disposable or multi-use, you can follow the steps below to prevent the spread of germs: 

1. Before starting (and after finishing a task), wash your hands with soap and water or if not available, with alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

  • Wash your hands before touching a pair of gloves.  
  • When putting the gloves on try to only touch the top edge of the glove at the wrist.

2. During the task: maintain good hygiene by not touching your face and coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Monitor what you touch and replace your gloves frequently. 

  • Replace your gloves every time you would wash or sanitise your hands. 

3. After completing the task, think about what you’ve touched and consider whether there is a risk of spreading the germs from your gloves if you start a new task. Your work task may not vary much but could involve touching different objects or attending to different customers or people. Consider whether disposable gloves or hand washing or using hand sanitiser is the best measure for the next task.

4. Taking off gloves: 

  • Carefully remove the first glove by gripping at the wrist edge without touching the skin and pull downwards away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.  
  • With the ungloved hand, slide your fingers into the glove and peel the glove downwards away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.   
  • If you are wearing disposable gloves dispose of them in a sealed bin.  
  • If you are wearing multi-use gloves clean and store them according to the manufacturer’s instructions or your workplace policy. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or if not available, with alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 

There is an infographic for putting and removing gloves on the Australian Government Department of Health website

 

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