Periodically I will interview SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) in various areas of custodial operations.  John Poole is an SME in many aspects of custodial operations and this article will focus on OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements for one very important PPE: gloves.  Not all gloves are the same and not all can be used for cleaning tasks without being in violation of OSHA standards.  John relates the time when visiting an account and noting the workers were wearing what he called “sandwich making gloves.”  These are the slip on gloves designed to protect food from cross contamination when a worker handles it.  The workers he observed were using them to clean up spills and clean toilets.  This not only placed the worker in jeopardy but also violated OHSA standards.


According to Poole: “It is the employer’s responsibility to provide the proper protective equipment to the employee at no cost.  The employer must train the employee on how to put on, take off, maintain, identify the appropriate use for and when to replace damaged or worn gloves.  The employee must attend training sessions, care for and how to clean the gloves as well as report damaged gloves to their supervisor for replacement. “


According to Poole, the Safety Data Sheet will state if hand protection is required.  OSHA can and will cite for failure to provide the appropriate glove protection.  The SDS will also indicate if chemical resistance in the glove is required (which will be the case for cleaners in most circumstances).  Poole suggests that you go to the OSHA website ( and search “Personal Protective Equipment:.  The publication to look for is:  OSHA-3151-12R 2003 and is downloadable for reference.  You can reach John at  


We will continue this conversation in a future article.  


Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or