How to get in there?

OK, so it’s great to have that isolated workstation where you and the stuff you’re working on are both safe from each other… but how do you get in there to work?

What exactly do you need and what mustClear glass glove box enclosure with fully gowned and masked operator you know to safely reach into that pressurized space and deal with the isolated stuff?

Well, assuming that it has gloves installed, and that they are big enough for your hands to fit, there are still a few things to do:

  1. Make sure it’s ready before you start (gotta be safe!),
  2. Prepare to sit or stand in a healthy user position,
  3. Avoid touch contamination of hands in the gloves,
  4. Prepare for smooth insertion and extraction,
  5. Insert hands correctly to avoid process issues inside,
  6. Do your inside work and
  7. Extract hands correctly to avoid process issues inside

Now lets expand on these points with a bit of advice on how to do it:


1. Get ready to do it

Either read the operating guidelines, or consult with a trained glove box operator to ensure that it is loaded with tools and materials you need and fully operational.  If not, make sure that happens before you attempt to use it.  If you’re not sure about the safety of yourself, the room or the process inside, then you are not ready to proceed.  Keep working on understanding and preparing the isolation system until you’re sure.


2. Prepare to sit or stand correctly

Check the position of the glove box window and glove ports, and compare it with your eyes and arms when standing or seated.  If it seems uncomfortable, unhealthy or unworkable, make adjustments to the chair height, standing platform height or glove box height for good ergonomics.  This may require an adjustable chair or work platform for proper, healthy operation.


3. Clean gloves & hands

Your hands will be in intimate contact with the interior of the gloves, so both gloves and hands should beInside view of glove box work clean before you start.  If others have used this unit, they may have left something in the gloves, and it could be something sticky or hazardous.  If there is any doubt, clean the gloves. Ensure that hands and gloves are clean and dry.


4. Prepare for a clean slide or roll

The gloves are likely to stick to your hands making it harder to insert and remove them.  If you cool your hands, this will be easier, but using talcum powder or thin cotton gloves on them may help avoid skin sticking to the rubber.  This is really important if gloves are snug, or if the glove box is positively pressurized, as that presses the rubber against your skin.  It also is helpful to control the temperature and ventilation in the room, as perspiration is not your friend when you want to get into or out of these gloves.


5. Slide or roll hands in smoothly

Now that you’re ready, the hands should slide in slowly, one at a time.  The way you do this is different for negative pressure and positive pressure glove boxes.

In negative pressure units, the gloves will inflate toward the back of the chamber, making a clear opening for your hands.  In that case, just slide them in Clear dome glove box with white gloves inflated outwardslowly, taking care not to bump into the wrong things inside, or to change the pressure too quickly by your hand movements.

In a positive pressure glove box the gloves should be inflated inside-out when you start.  If gloves are stuck inside, work them free to inflate outward before proceeding.  By inserting your fingers in at the glove finger tips you can roll fingers and hands into the gloves instead of sliding them.  As you push your hands into the glove box the pressure inside will rise.  Insert hands slowly, to allow the pressure control system to adjust.


6. Do the work inside

When both hands are fully inserted and the chamber is at the required pressure, you can proceed to work in the unit. Execute your applications according to your operations protocol, including any final steps for cleanup, anti-microbial or clean-air treatments and materials containment inside.


7. Getting them out

When the work is done, or you need a break, withdraw your hands slowly.  The idea is to get them out without much disturbance to the chamber pressure.  Pressure changes may not be important if your process isolation is no longer required, or if the chamber pressure control system is exceptionally fast and very dynamic.  If not, pay attention to the pressure as you extract the first hand.  This is easier for the first one, as the other hand can help. Extracting the last hand may require very slow motion or help with the other hand partially in the chamber.

In a negative pressure system, a clinging glove will tend to make the chamber more negatively pressurized as you pull the hand out, but when you release the glove the pressure may ease quickly toward ambient.  In a positive pressure system the pressure will drop as each hand comes out, so you may need to move even more slowly to allow gas injection flow to catch up keeping pressure high enough.


Final checks – preparing for next time

After your hands are out, take note of what worked well, and what did not.  If the gloves were too tight, larger gloves might be needed.  If pressure changes were a problem, pressure system flow rates or pressure settings might be adjusted.  In any case, record what worked well, and what did not, so you or others will be better prepared next time.

Now that you know how to get your hands in, it will be useful to know how to get your tools and materials in and out.  That is the topic for a later post, Ins and Outs of Barrier Isolation: Stuff in the Box.

Thanks for checking out Ins and Outs of Barrier Isolation, Hand in Glove.  Please let us know if it was helpful, and how we can make it better. Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.

Photo credit: UNMEER via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Please follow and like us:

8 thoughts on “Ins and Outs of Barrier Isolation: Hand in Glove

  • By sushama chandrakant sawant - Reply

    hello sftat , wow ! your post is beautiful and nice framework you have done.
    your niche is good and quite attractive.dont just copy and paste on it
    it will look more better if u remove : part 1 from your heading .
    may be you have bright future ahead.I loved it.keep it up

    • By Stephen Tattershall - Reply

      Thanks much for your comment, Sushama.  We are very happy you like the post, and we’ll strive to live up to your high praise.  I assure you, this post is all from my hand, and all original. There has never been any copy and paste on this site, other than a few free images.  As for the “Part 1” in the heading, this is the first of a 2 part topic, where Part 1 is this article on getting access in a glove box by getting your hands in and out, and Part 2 will be an article on how the tools and materials to work with and work on get into the chamber and how you extract them.  How do you suggest removing “Part 1” will help, and how do you suggest we change titles of both posts? Thanks again, SteveT

  • By Brad - Reply

    Hi Stephen,

    Very interesting information.
    What sort of contaminants are tested in these isolation chambers? Radioactive material, chemicals etc.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.


    • By SteveT - Reply

      Thanks for checking us out, Brad.
      Glove box isolation chambers are used for radioactive and chemical substances, as well as anything else that could cause problems for people working with them, others near by or that must be protected from the people, the air they breathe or anything else in the environment. This includes pretty much anything scary or sensitive from metals that spontaneously catch fire in air to tuberculin specimens or chemotherapy drugs used in preparation for cancer treatment. We build Safe-T-Dome glove boxes used across Canada for Chemotherapy prep and in Australia for Veterinary oncology and Posi-Dome glove boxes used for hypoxic experiments in neuroscience and ebola drug trials in Africa. Just about anything that needs to be kept isolated for it’s own sake or the user’s can be processed in an isolation glove box. Thanks a heap for asking.

  • By Mark W - Reply

    Steve: Very interesting article. I’d like to read more on the use-cases for glove boxes; perhaps interviews or statements from users on the attributes of glove boxes that they find important. Please keep blogging. Information is so important!

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Glove box applications are so routine for those using them, that we can forget to cover such topics. Thanks for pointing out the gap and asking the powerful question, Mark. We will focus on these points in future posts. For now, let me offer a link to a detailed article and give a few quick examples:
      When working with hazardous material, like cytotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy, a glove box provides exceptional worker protection.
      In clinical trials of new drugs it is critical to prepare patient injections in a sterile atmosphere, even if the work must be done in a jungle or a mud hut. In such cases a glove box may be the only practical solution available.
      There are many others, but this should provide some initial understanding.
      Thanks again, Mark
      Steve T.

  • By Edward Steadman - Reply

    Hi Steve,
    Great website with very interesting content. As an engineer I’m fascinated by how the design of things impacts the environment. Isolation glove boxes easily fall into my definition of fascinating.
    Are glove boxes custom designed or are there standard sizes and designs for various applications?
    Are there many different kinds of glove boxes or do most of them serve multiple purposes?
    What happens to the air inside the contaminated zone? Is it just filtered and exhausted or is it incinerated before being released to open atmosphere?

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Great questions, Ed! If you want to know more about glove boxes and the environment, I suggest you check our Purged and Barrier pages. We will do additional posts on the environmental impact of isolation types in coming weeks.

      Most glove boxes follow standard designs, but those designs are often modified before manufacturing, as many are built to order. Some companies are more standardized and build for inventory, including Banthrax Corporation, my company. You can get a view of our Safe-T-Dome and Posi-Dome glove box products at

      There are a great variety of glove box enclosures used in R/D, nuclear, industrial, pharma and many other types of applications. They vary from big production line enclosures with many sets of glove ports to small mobile units barely large enough for two hands.

      The atmosphere in an isolation glove box can be negative pressure, positive pressure or neutral/non-pressurized. In most negative pressure and non-pressurized applications the inside air/gas is vented from the chamber through filters. In some cases the interior space is treated with ultraviolet light or chemicals to sterilize it. I think exhaust incineration is rare, and I’ve not encountered it, but I’m willing to bet it can be found somewhere. In many positive pressure chambers the inside atmosphere is Argon, Nitrogen or other special, non-breathable gas, or is treated air, filtered/sterilized before injection.

      Thanks again for great questions, Ed. We hope you will stop by again to share with us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>