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Exposure to natural rubber latex (NRL) may cause you to develop an allergy.

Reactions to latex include:

  • skin rashes like allergic contact dermatitis
  • hives
  • symptoms that feel like hay fever - rhinitis and conjunctivitis
  • asthma
  • fatal anaphylaxis - this is very rare

The use of powdered latex gloves has been phased out. You should use latex-free products where possible. If this is not practicable, you can use low protein, latex-powder-free products. Synthetic products like Nitrile, Polyisoprene or Neoprene may also be used.

Exposure to latex

Employees and patients can come into contact with latex by:

  • cutaneous – through direct skin contact such as gloves, tape
  • mucus membranes - internal examinations, dental treatment, food handled with latex gloves
  • inhalation – breathing aerolised glove powder
  • internal tissue – latex products used in surgery
  • intravascular – injection from rubber bungs on medication vials, injection ports on IV tubing

Support and advice

Discuss any issues you have using latex with your manager. They can review the risk assessment and identify controls to put in place.

If you have a latex allergy you should contact your local occupational health department.

Related documents

Policy on the prevention and management of latex allergy (PDF, 1 MB, 47 pages)

Generic risk assessment form (Word, 41 KB, 2 pages)

Latex policy fast factsheet (PDF, 1 MB, 2 pages)

Generic risk assessment fillable form template (Word, 132 KB, 2 pages)

Contact HSE Health and Safety helpdesk

Use the Health and Safety self-service portal or

Phone: 1800 420 420

Monday to Friday 10.30am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 3.30pm