Orgopete I don't understand your logic. If you really don't like touching your chemicals and other's chemicals, why wouldn't you wear gloves to protect your hands? You're free to dispose of as many gloves per minute as you want. So why not protect them??
I guess I should state that I'm lucky to work with other responsible people. In my department on other floors I have seen folks walk around the hallway with their purple gloves on. That angers me b/c I don't know what they are touching. Thankfully though I don't work on those floors so I can just pass on by and be done with it. However, in every lab that I have personally worked in, it has been clearly stated that once you are done with chemistry (not just for the day, say you want to eat a snack, check your email, go to the bathroom, even if it's just a 30s break) you take your gloves off first. So I feel comfortable knowing that my colleages have the same base level of hygiene I expect of myself. I wouldn't join a lab that didn't. In fact I personally know somebody who was employed at an isotope lab and he was so appalled at the safety issues that he quit 2-3 weeks after starting and went somewhere else for employment. Smart guy.
As far as the problem of using gloves for hours at a time... I'm assuming tmartin isn't actually wearing the gloves the entire 4-5 hours. I assume tmartin is not checking email, opening doors, etc with the gloves on (perhaps tmartin can clarify for us). So I don't see what's the problem with that?
Let me give you a personal example. If it's a day where I set up several reactions at a time, it's extremely rare that I have to actually use my hand to touch a chemical (even though my hand is gloved, I still don't use my hands to touch the chemicals like orgopete describes his students doing). I use spatulas and funnels to weigh out solids and put them in the flask. I uses syringes and cannulas to do liquid transfers. So if I'm not actually having to touch any chemical with my hands and I'm not getting solvent drips on them, I don't see where the problem is with using the same pair for a few hours of work. Now on the reverse side, one time I was transferring Br2 with a syringe to my flask. As I pulled the loaded syringe back out of the bromine bottle a small drop flicked onto my finger. Thankfully my hands were gloved. I immediately set the syringe down, removed the gloves, washed the hands, put on new gloves and continue on. That pair was probably on my hands for 3 minutes... and I'm really happy they were.
Orgopete you say you like the feedback on knowing that you may have inadvertently contacted something. So do I. The difference is that if I say "Hmm, I think there was something on that surface that I'd like not to be on me" I have the gloves for preliminary protection. Then, just like you can, I wash my hands.
Again I'm just amazed. Sure, if you work with people that wear gloves only to then physically use that gloved hand for scooping out solids and then ( while the holding solids in the palm of their hand) put it in the flask, then yes those people are idiots. That's not what I'm talking about though. I'm saying to take the exact same precautions as orgopete describes (spatulas, funnels, discarding gloves the moment you touch something on accident, etc), but in addition wear gloves.