Standard Personal Protective Equipment


The standard for clothing to be worn in a laboratory setting was created to protect laboratory personnel from hazardous conditions that exist in a laboratory. Shorts, skirts, and midriff tops are not allowed in a laboratory where hazardous materials are present. Open toed shoes are never allowed in a laboratory. Long hair should be tied back. A lab coat should be worn when handling hazardous chemicals, materials, or biological agents. If a lab coat becomes contaminated, it must be laundered by a professional laundering service, do not wash it at home.


Gloves are to be worn when handling hazardous materials. The correct type of gloves material should be selected based on the chemicals being handled. Disposable latex or vinyl gloves offer protection from most powders, aqueous-based biological solutions and biohazards. Laboratories will maintain stocks of these gloves in areas where manipulation of toxic powders or solutions occurs. Note that the electrostatic properties of latex and vinyl gloves can cause some chemicals to disperse into the air. Disposable cotton gloves should be used with some carcinogens. Heavy gloves (best if non-water-permeable) should be worn when handling hot or auto-claved glassware. Similar insulating gloves should be worn when handling extremely cold materials such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen. Always remove gloves prior to leaving your area. Never wear gloves in elevators and public areas. Gloves should never be reused. Use the one hand glove rule when walking containers between areas. Always open doors with the non-glove hand.

Eye and Face Protection

Protective eye and face equipment shall be worn where there is a reasonable possibility that injury could be prevented by such equipment. Suitable eye protection shall be provided and worn where machines or operations present the hazards of flying objects, glare, liquids, injurious radiation or a combination of these factors. The type of eye or face protection required depends on the hazard. Safety glasses effectively protect the eye from solid materials (dust and flying objects) but are less effective at protecting the eyes from chemical splashes to the face. Goggles should be worn in situations where bulk quantities of chemicals are handled or liquid splashes to the face are possible. Goggles form a liquid proof seal around the eyes, protecting them from splashes. When handling highly reactive substances or large quantities of hazardous chemicals, corrosives, poisons and hot chemicals, goggles with a face shield should be worn. Contact lenses do not provide eye protection. The capillary space between the contact lenses and the cornea may trap material present on the surface of the eye. Chemicals trapped in this space cannot readily be washed off the surface of the cornea. If the material causes pain in the eye, or the contact lens is displaced, muscle spasms will make it very difficult to remove the lens. Contact lenses should not be worn by persons exposed to chemicals.

Emergency eyewash facilities should be available in areas where corrosive or caustic materials are handled. Eye and face injuries are preventable when the correct protection is used. Know the location of the closest eye wash station.

Ear Protection

In certain laboratory procedures, high frequency loud sounds are produced (e.g., sonication). If you are doing these kinds of experiments, contact Environmental Health & Safety for appropriate hearing protection equipment. Disposable ear plugs are available from EH&S, Space Science 103.


In radioactive work with high energy emittance, shields made of Plexiglas or lead are used to reduce exposure to the worker. With P32, a clear plastic shield works well to block the ß-particles, and shields or containers made of Lucite can be used for storage of isotopes or in work areas. It is generally better to use Lucite shielding than metal since you can see through it, clean it more easily, and it does not generate as many X-rays when penetrated by high energy ß-particles. Lead sheets or containers made of this metal are used for shipment of many isotopes and are effective in blocking radiation. These are used most often for longer term storage or around high radioactive waste disposal areas.

Other types of shields around high voltage, vacuum equipment, or other mechanical or high energy machinery should not be removed from the equipment. UV glasses or face shields should be worn when using UV light sources.


CDC - National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory