Laboratory Safety: Personal Protective Equipment
Protection: Eye | Ear
| Hand | Clothing |
Eye protection used in the laboratory must meet ANSI
(American National Standards Institute) Z87.1 specifications. The ANSI
approval stamp can be found on the eyewear's lens or eyepiece.
- Should be splash-proof
- Should fit snugly over eyes and around the face
- Should be capable of being cleaned and disinfected
- Should not interfere with movement
Eye protection should be worn when using caustics,
corrosives, irritants, flammables, explosives, UV light, lasers,
radioactive materials, biohazardous materials, glassware under vacuum or
pressure, or cryogenic materials.
Laboratory workers who wear corrective lenses should use prescription
lens safety splash goggles, or splash-proof safety goggles that can be
worn over corrective lenses.
- Contact lenses generally should not be worn in the
laboratory. They provide no chemical or physical protection for the
eyes, and also present potential hazards.
- Contact lenses may be impossible to remove from the
eyes after contact with some types of chemicals.
- Contact lenses will reduce the effectiveness of
emergency flushing procedures.
- Contact lenses may trap contaminants in the eyes.
Laboratory workers who must wear contact lenses for
medical reasons should be especially careful to choose eye protection
that fits snugly over the eyes and around the face.
A work area with a noise level of 85 decibels (dBA) or greater is
considered a noise hazard. Under these conditions, ear protection should
be worn. Noise reduction ratings (NRR) for hearing protection devices
must be listed on its packaging.
Ear plugs and ear muffs provide sufficient protection
against noise. Keep these devices clean and always wash hands before
inserting ear plugs into ears. Cotton inserts are not adequate noise
suppressors and should not be used.
Protective gloves should be worn when handling
hazardous chemicals, sharp-edged objects, very hot or cold materials, or
substances of unknown toxicity. When selecting and using protective
gloves, laboratory workers should take precaution.
Protective gloves should be selected on the basis of the hazards
- Polyvinyl gloves protect against mild corrosives and irritants.
Latex gloves have some protection against irritants and infectious
Rubber gloves protect against mild corrosive material and electric
Neoprene gloves protect against solvents, oils, and mild corrosive
Cotton gloves have limited protection against fire, and absorb
It is important to wear gloves that are resistant to
the material being used. In an accident, the wrong type of glove can be
more hazardous than no gloves at all, keeping hazardous chemicals in
prolonged contact with the hands.
Make sure gloves are in good condition and free from
holes and tears before use. This becomes especially important when
working with extremely corrosive material.
When removing gloves, keep the working surface of the
glove away from hands and skin. The glove should be removed starting
from the wrist and then pulled toward the fingers. Gloves that are
contaminated with radioactive or biohazardous waste should be disposed
of in appropriate waste containers. Wash hands as soon as possible after
Remove gloves before handling common objects such as
pens, doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc.
Clothing and skin may be protected from chemicals by wearing a lab
coat. The lab coat should always be properly fitted and is best if it is
knee length. Different types of lab coats offer different types of
Cotton lab coats protect against flying objects and sharp edges, and
are usually fire retardant.
Wool lab coats protect against small quantities of acid and small
Synthetic fiber lab coats are not recommended since they are flammable
and can adhere to the skin upon contact with fire, causing painful
Lab coats should be able to be removed easily in the
event of an emergency.
Proper footwear provides protection from corrosives,
heavy objects and electric shock. In the laboratory, shoes should
completely cover the feet.
Certain types of shoes offer added protection.
Steel-toed shoes protect against crushing injuries and chemical
Rubber boots protect against corrosive chemicals and provide traction.
Insulated shoes protect against electric shock.
Fabric shoes, such as tennis shoes, can absorb
liquids. If hazardous chemicals are spilled on fabric shoes they should
be removed immediately.
Sandals, open-toed shoes and high heels should not be
worn in the laboratory.
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