Hospital trusts failing to impose latex policy

A yet to be published survey will reveal that a third of English and Welsh
trusts do not have a latex policy, which is a disgrace, according to the vice
chair of the latex allergy support group.

In her address – Latex and staff health, managing safely – Lesley Fudge, an
independent nurse consultant, said these trusts have no accurate figures for
the number of staff who are diagnosed or self-diagnosed with natural rubber
latex (NRL) allergy (type I) or chemical allergy (type IV).

She also told delegates that despite a growing number of people in the UK
with asthma, there is no proper allergy service available – something which is
badly needed.

For OHNs working outside the health service, she said they should remember
that it is not just healthcare workers who are exposed to NRL, but many other
professions as well, including the police, hairdressers and firemen.

Fudge explained the alternatives to NRL, and the ways in which OH services
can help and advise clients concerned that they may have, or may be developing,
a problem.

She also warned against penalising people for developing an allergy, by
redeploying or even ruling them unfit for work in pre-employment healthchecks,
especially as latex is not yet classified as a disability.

She said that OH may need to help re-educate staff to "stop wearing the
damn things" for every task but instead encourage healthy hand care.

www.hse.gov.uk/latex

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