I’ve got another pet-peeve-itch to scratch, so I’m picking up a tall glass of haterade.
I’m walking down the stairwell in my building, and I encounter someone heading upstairs carrying a styrofoam container (I can’t tell what’s in it, but it’s probably filled with ice and something worth keeping cold). We approach the door to the floor we both work on. She gets there first and extends her hand to open the door — a hand ensconced in a rubber glove.
When doing lab work, we wear gloves for two reasons:
To protect our samples from contamination from ourselves.
To protect ourselves from contamination from our samples.
Applying that logic to our gloved stairwell walker, she either does not care about her samples or she does not care about the people with whom she shares a building. If she is worried about contaminating her sample, she should not go around touching things — door handles, for example — with her gloves that are constantly groped by bare-hands. Alternatively, if she is worried that the samples she is handling may do damage to her skin if she were to touch them with bare-hands, she should not be touching things — like door handles — with her gloves that many other people touch sans gloves.
This stuff falls under Labwork 101 — like learning how to pipette. You shouldn’t be allowed to touch a piece of equipment without understanding these basics. But so many inconsiderate douchebags fail to learn glove etiquette. Here are the rules:
See the two reasons for wearing gloves from above. If neither of those things applies, you probably don’t need to be wearing gloves.
When wearing gloves, don’t touch anything with your gloved hand that anyone touches with their bare-hand. Conversely, don’t touch anything with your bare-hand that anyone touches with their gloved hand.
If you must take something that is glove-worthy from one room to another, you must remove at least one glove. Ideally, you would put the glove-worthy item in container that can be carried without gloves. If this is not an option, you may wear a single glove for carrying the item. But the other hand must be ungloved for doing things like opening doors and pushing elevator buttons.
First and foremost, gloves are used for safety and protecting your samples from contamination. But they are also a good non-verbal communication tool for lab mates. When you wear gloves, you tell everyone else two things: stay away unless you wanna get fucked up by my nasty chemicals, and don’t come near my stuff because you’re gonna fuck up my project. In order for this non-verbal language to persist, you must follow the rules described above. Deviating from those rules is not only a breach of safety protocol, but also an affront to common courtesy.