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4: Personal Protective Equipment

Maintaining a safe laboratory environment during a specific procedure is the responsibility of faculty and staff of the biology department, but all employees play a role in observing safety guidelines. Personal protective devices and safety equipment must be provided to all employees under the appropriate circumstances and employees have the responsibility of properly using such equipment.

The MSDS will provide some information on the personal protective equipment and safety procedures recommended for a given chemical. However, the MSDS might not provide sufficient information concerning the specific type of safety equipment required (for example, it might say "use gloves" but not list the best glove to use).

4.1 Eye Protection

Eye protection must be made available to all employees or visitors to laboratories where chemicals are used and stored. Protective eye and face equipment must be used where there is a reasonable probability of injury from hazardous chemicals that can be prevented from such equipment.

The minimum acceptable requirements are for hardened glass or plastic safety spectacles. Biology faculty or staff should establish the level of eye protection needed per laboratory activity. The following types of eye protection are recommended for use in the laboratory by ANSI:

All eye protective devices must be stamped with "Z87" by the manufacturer if they meet ANSI standards. If the eye protection is not marked, it might not be the most effective protection available.

Safety glasses

with side shields offer minimal protection against flying fragments, chips, particles, sand and dirt. When a splash hazard exists, other protective eye equipment should be worn.

Safety goggles (impact goggles)

offer adequate protection against flying particles. These should be worn when working with glassware under reduced or elevated pressure or with drill presses or other similar conditions.

Chemical splash goggles (acid goggles)

have indirect venting for splash proof sides, which provide adequate protection against splashes. Chemical splash goggles offer the best eye protection from chemical splashes. Impact goggles should not be worn when danger of a splash exists.


protect the face and neck from flying particles and splashes. Always wear additional eye protection under faceshields. Ultra-violet light faceshields should be worn when working over UV light sources.

4.2 Protection of Skin and Body.

Protective clothing should be used to protect individuals from chemical exposure. Determine the clothing needed for the chemical being used, as protective garments are not equally effective for every hazardous chemical. Some chemicals will permeate a garment in a very short time, whereas others will not. Protection is required for any substance on the OSHA PEL list carrying a "skin" notation.

The basic and most effective forms of protection are gloves and lab coats.

Protect exposed skin surfaces when there is a reasonable anticipation of a splash. Avoid wearing open-toed shoes, sandals, shorts, etc. when working with injurious or corrosive chemicals. Even when there is minimal danger of skin contact with an extremely hazardous substance, lab coats, coveralls, aprons, or protective suits should be utilized. These garments should not leave the work site.

Specialized protective equipment should be used when exposures to strong acids and acid gases, organic chemicals and strong oxidizing agents, carcinogens, and mutagens is likely. Impervious protective equipment must be utilized, such as: rubber gloves, aprons, boots and protective suits. Glove-resistance to various chemicals materials will vary with the manufacturer, model and thickness. Therefore, review a glove-resistance chart from the manufacturer before purchasing or use of the gloves.

Supervisors shall designate areas, activities, and tasks that require specific types of personal protective equipment as described above. The availability and location of personal protective equipment in the department is provided in Table 2 below

Table 2 Storage location of personal protective equipment that can be designated by the laboratory supervisor for use.

Personal Protective Equipment Storage Location
Disposable impervious apron NSC 130
Disposable impervious sleeves NSC 130
Disposable impervious smock NSC 130
Face shield NSC 130, 230
Goggles NSC 107
Lab coat NSC 130, can be checked out for a semester
Gloves NSC 215 107, 130, SC312

4.3 Respirators.

Use of respirators in laboratories is strongly discouraged. Respiratory use is only allowed where engineering controls are not feasible or where they are being installed, maintained or for emergency response.

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