Prevention of latex allergy/anaphylaxix - OHS information sheet

October 2017

Background

Sensitivity to latex can develop over a period of time as a result of frequent and repeated exposure. Whilst there is no specific treatment available, minimising exposure to the allergen greatly reduces the likelihood of development of the sensitivity (ANMF Policy, 2013).

Monash University recognises that many of its staff and students are potentially exposed to latex allergens during the course of their work or study. This can include the use of disposable latex gloves or contact with equipment that contains latex components such as syringes, adhesive tape and IV tubes/catheters, some playground equipment and rubberised matting.

Heads of academic/administrative units and supervisory staff have a particular responsibility for ensuring that all persons who use or may come in contact with latex are aware of the associated exposure risks and ensure these are minimised. This involves communicating local requirements to staff and students under their control and ensuring that appropriate controls are provided.

Purpose

The purpose of this information sheet is to provide guidance on:

  • the identification of students with potential latex allergy;
  • prevention of latex allergy; and
  • the implementation of appropriate risk control measures.

The risk of exposure to latex allergens should be minimised as far as is reasonably practicable through:

  • The provision of appropriate local training and information to staff and students to educate them about exposure to latex allergy, including symptoms and preventative and management strategies.
  • The development and implementation of a local management policy. This should outline management responsibilities, timelines and resource allocation for latex allergen exposure prevention.  This is not limited to but should include practical classes/labs and placements.
  • In the case that a student is believed to be developing a latex allergy, they should seek sensitivity testing and a management plan should be developed by their treating health care professional.

The following should be considered when developing local risk management strategies.

Classes/Laboratories

  • Identification of students who are at risk of latex allergy prior to entering the clinical learning environment/skills laboratory or teaching space where latex may be present;
  • Implementation of an appropriate process for purchasing and sourcing latex-free gloves and equipment, where possible;
  • Implementation of an action plan, where a student has been identified as having latex allergy, based on the management plan provided by their health care professional;
  • Where hand care products are provided, these should be non-oil-based, so as to prevent deterioration of both powder-free low-allergen latex gloves and latex-free gloves; and
  • Easy and ready access to hand-washing amenities after any latex product exposure should be available.

Placements (MBBS, Nursing, Allied Health and Education students)

It is the responsibility of the student to provide their management plan to their Clinical Placement Coordinator and it is recommended that this information is recorded in the student’s TRIM file.

As far as is reasonably practicable, placements where a latex-free environment exists or is more easily implemented should be sought for students that have an identified allergy.

When alternate placement and workplace activities cannot be provided, discussions should be held between the student and the relevant course coordinator and:

  • Clinical Placement Coordinators should notify the placement organisation of the student’s allergy at least one month before commencement; and
  • A copy of the student’s management plan should be provided to the placement organisation to allow time for appropriate controls to be put in place.

References

  • Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (Vic Branch) Policy: Exposure to Latex Allergens, 2013
  • Katrancha, E. D., & Harshberger, L. A. (2012). Nursing students with latex allergy. Nurse education in practice, 12(6), 328-332.

For further information, contact the OHS Nurse Consultants.