2001-H 5907A
Enacted 07/13/2001

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Introduced By:  Representatives Dennigan, Carroll, Iwuc, Cicilline & Giannini Date Introduced:   February 6, 2001

SECTION 1. Title 23 of the General Laws entitled "Health and Safety" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following chapter:


23-73-1. Findings. -- (a) The legislature finds that latex allergies are increasingly becoming a problem for people who are exposed to disposable nonsterile and sterile latex gloves, such as health care workers, patients, food service workers, manufacturers, hair dressers, child care workers, and children.

(b) There are three (3) categories of latex allergies:

(1) irritant dermatitis;

(2) allergic contact dermatitis (delayed hypersensitivity); and

(3) immediate hypersensitivity latex allergy.

(c) Reaction to latex may manifest through skin rashes, hives, itching, swollen skin, swollen lips and tongue, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, eyes or sinus symptoms, asthma and difficulty breathing, coughing spells, wheezing, and shock.

(d) In 1997, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued an alert concerning the danger of exposure to latex products and requested assistance preventing allergic reactions to natural rubber latex among workers who use gloves and other products containing latex.

(e) On April 12, 1999, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, issued the Technical Bulletin concerning the potential harm to workers from natural rubber latex gloves and other natural rubber products, such as gloves, airway masks, medication vial caps, anesthesia bags, catheters, intravenous supplies, dental dams, balloons, and other products.

(f) Latex gloves are the major contributor for latex allergies.

(g) The United States Food and Drug Administration requires medical devices containing latex to carry a warning about potential allergic reaction.

(h) In 1995, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology concluded that the single greatest product causing adverse reaction to latex rubber are latex gloves.

(i) The National Institute of Safety and Health concluded that latex allergies can be prevented if employers establish policies that protect workers and the public from unnecessary latex exposure.

23-73-2. Use of latex gloves. - (a) The use of disposable, nonsterile and sterile natural rubber latex gloves shall be prohibited by any person, firm, or corporation, registered pursuant to sections 21-27-10 and 21-27-11.

(b) Any firm, business, or corporation, regulated by the state of Rhode Island which uses latex gloves shall post a notice informing employees and the public:

(1) that natural rubber latex gloves are used by said regulated entity;

(2) that exposure to latex may result in the development of an allergy;

(3) that allergic reactions to natural rubber latex can manifest by skin rash, hives, nasal and eye irritation, asthma, and shock; and

(4) that should you or your family experience allergic reaction symptoms, then you should contact your health care provider.

(c) Said notice shall include letters which are at least three-eighths (3/8) of an inch high and be posted in conspicuous areas throughout the firm, business or corporation.

(d) Said notice shall be posted in English, Spanish, and other languages served by the business, corporation, entity, or facility.

23-73-3. Rules and regulations. - (a) Health care workers shall be provided with initial and periodic education pertaining to latex safety.

(b)_ Health care facilities shall ensure that direct care workers are represented on latex allergy or safety committees.

(c) Any state agency which has regulatory authority for persons, firms, or corporations in which natural rubber latex gloves are used shall promulgate rules and regulations:

(1) to warn employees of potential risk of latex allergies;

(2) to warn the public of potential risk of latex allergies;

(3) to minimize exposure consistent with maintaining safety in regulated industries whose workers are exposed to blood borne pathogens.

23-73-4. Enforcement. - It shall be the duty of the director of the department of health to enforce the provisions of this chapter and to prosecute all persons who violate this chapter. In all such enforcements and prosecutions, the director shall not be required to enter into any recognizance or give surety for costs.

23-73-5. Penalty. - Any person, firm, or corporation, which is regulated by Rhode Island general laws, which violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of five hundred dollars ($500), and may be subject to any and all penalties provided for in Rhode Island general laws which regulate said industry, including revocation of licenses.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

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