by James G. Wargo
In June 2022, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Latex Glove Ban Act. 410 ILCS 180/1 et seq. The Act restricts the use of latex gloves by emergency medical services personnel (including emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics), health care facilities personnel, and food service workers. The effective date of the legislation is January 1, 2023.
The Act is an attempt to address the growing health concerns related to the use of latex gloves by healthcare and food service workers. A latex allergy can result in symptoms that range from itchy skin and hives to a potentially life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. While latex allergies are estimated to generally affect between one to six percent of the general population, it is estimated that between 10–17% of healthcare workers have been diagnosed as suffering from a latex allergy. Due to these high impact levels, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) currently recognize latex allergies as a significant hazard to health care workers.
In response to this growing health hazard, the Latex Glove Ban Act prohibits the use of latex gloves by EMS personnel on or after January 1, 2023, except in the event a crisis exists that prevents their ability to reliably source non-latex gloves. Under such circumstances, latex gloves may be used while administering patient care. In the event an organization is unable to adequately source non-latex gloves, EMS personnel and health care facility personnel must prioritize non-latex gloves for the treatment of any patient with a self-identified allergy to latex and any patient who is unconscious or otherwise physically unable to communicate and whose medical history lacks sufficient information to indicate whether or not the patient has a latex allergy.
Beginning on or after January 1, 2024, and except as otherwise allowed under the Act when a health care facility is unable to adequately stock non-latex gloves, health care facility personnel are prohibited from using latex gloves on any patient who is unconscious or otherwise physically unable to communicate and whose medical history lacks sufficient information to indicate whether or not the patient has a latex allergy.
Fire protection districts and municipal fire departments should take note of this important legislation that impacts the health and safety of their EMS personnel and update their policies and procedures to better protect against the health hazards posed by latex gloves.