Twelve hundred workers develop allergies to rubber every year – the
equivalent of one every seven hours, a report has calculated.
The report follows a ‘latex summit’ organised in May and has been put
together by the TUC, the Latex Allergy Support Group and the National
Association of Theatre Nurses.
Latex and rubber allergies cost employers, predominantly the NHS, more than
£120m a year.
The majority of workers who contract the allergy are nurses and other
healthcare workers, who develop symptoms such as asthma, dermatitis or
potentially fatal anaphylaxis.
The summit, which included nurses, latex allergy sufferers, Malaysian glove manufacturers,
unions, health sector employers and government agencies, concluded more
education was needed to raise awareness.
Delegates agreed that the NHS needed to implement a risk management approach
to latex to prevent staff developing allergies, backed up by better enforcement
of health and safety laws, Safer gloves also needed to be made more widely
The TUC’s health and safety specialist Owen Tudor, who chaired the summit,
said: "Leadership from ministers, from the rubber industry and from NHS
trust managers is needed to give this issue the priority and profile it
A further summit will be held this autumn.