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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to laboratory hazards. PPE must be readily available and provided at no cost to the employee. Minimum PPE requirements in every laboratory consist of a lab coat, long pants, fully enclosed shoe, safety glasses and gloves. It is the responsibility of the laboratory Principal Investigator to provide high quality PPE to their employees and to ensure that all laboratory staff have received training on the selection and use of PPE.

Laboratory personnel must be trained in the selection, proper use, limitations, care and maintenance of PPE. The annual laboratory safety plan review meets these training requirements, but it is strongly recommended that further training be done. Further training could include group meeting sessions or one-on-one training. Examples of topics to be covered during the training include:

  • When PPE must be worn
  • What PPE is necessary to carry out a procedure or experiment
  • How to properly put on, take off, adjust, and wear PPE
  • The proper cleaning, care, maintenance, useful life, limitations, and disposal of the PPE

For more information, please review chapter five of the Laboratory Safety Manual, “Protective Clothing and Equipment.”

Lab coats help protect against minor chemical splashes or spills encountered in the laboratory. However, the cloth lab coat is primarily a protection for clothing and may itself present a hazard (e.g., combustibility) to the wearer. Certain materials offer satisfactory fire protection while others do not.


Highly fire-resistant because the fabric thickens, carbonizes and remains intact under fire conditions. Used widely in occupations where fire is a real hazard and can be laundered without losing fire-resistant properties.

Fire-Resistant Cotton

Cotton coats are available that are treated with a fire-resistant material. Fire-resistance may dissipate after repeated laundering.

100% Cotton

Superior to synthetic blends for fire-resistance, but inferior to Nomex and fire-resistant cotton.

Synthetic/Cotton Blends

100% polyester coats, or cotton/polyester blends are the most combustible and are not considered appropriate for working with flammables.

Wear proper protective gloves for potential contact with corrosive or toxic materials, materials of unknown toxicity, sharp edged objects, and very hot or cold materials. Select gloves based on the material handled, the particular hazard involved, and their suitability for the operation conducted. Check the glove characteristics, such as thickness and permeability, when selecting the proper glove. Refer to chapter five of the Laboratory Safety Manual, “Protective Clothing and Equipment” and the glove selection chart below for more information about selecting gloves.

Laboratory gloves have a shelf life stamped on the box. Dispose of gloves if they are old. You can dispose of gloves in the regular trash if they are not contaminated with bloodborne pathogens, radionuclides, highly toxic chemicals or select carcinogens. Always store gloves away from windows, transilluminators and other ultraviolet sources since some glove materials are susceptible to ultraviolet damage.

Glove Selection Chart
Glove Material Intended Use Example
Natural Rubber Latex
  • Highly flexible and conforming material
  • Known allergen
  • Avoid using if possible
Natural rubber latex glove
  • Synthetic rubber
  • Good resistance to weathering and wide variety of chemicals
  • Avoid gasoline and aliphatic, aromatic, and halogenated hydrocarbons
Butyl gloves
  • Synthetic rubber
  • Good wear and chemical resistance
  • Avoid halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons
Neoprene glove
  • Copolymer with wide range of acrylonitrile
  • Disposable & Reusable options
Nitrile glove
Poly (vinyl alcohol)
  • Water soluble polymer
  • Good resistance to many organic solvents
  • Avoid water-based solutions
Poly (vinyl alcohol) glove
Poly (vinyl chloride)
  • Good resistance to abrasions
  • Avoid organic solvents
Poly (vinyl chloride) gloves
  • Abrasion resistant rubber
  • Used to coat into fabrics or formed into gloves and boots
Polyurethane gloves
4H® / Silvershield®
  • Highly chemical resistant
  • Poor fitting (hand mobility)
4H/Silvershield gloves
  • Highly chemical resistant
  • Very expensive
  • Avoid ketones
Viton glove
Cryogenic Material / Thermal Fabric
  • Used for cryogenic material, liquid nitrogen, liquid helium, dry ice
  • Avoid hot items
Cryogenic material/thermal fabric gloves
All Cotton Terry Cloth
  • Used for autoclave work
  • Heat resistant up to 232°C
  • Two length options for wrist and forearm protection
All cotton/terry cloth gloves
Kevlar® / Nomex®
  • Synthetic fiber
  • Good resistance to abrasions and cuts
  • Briefly withstand heat up to 538°C
  • Lightweight and flexible
Kevlar glove


Latex Allergy Fact Sheet

The best way to prevent hearing loss is to implement engineering or administrative controls to reduce sound levels without the use of PPE. Types of administrative controls are rotation of employees, limiting time of certain operations or restricting areas of work operations. Engineering controls include maintenance, modifying equipment, substitution of equipment, isolation and acoustic material.

However, the University strongly encourages the use of hearing protection around noisy equipment. A good rule to follow is, if you think you might need hearing protection, wear hearing protection. In general, hearing protection is required when occupational exposure is above 85 decibels. For more information, refer to the Occupational Noise Exposure page.

Always wear shoes in laboratories or other chemical use and storage areas. Do not wear perforated shoes, sandals or cloth sneakers in laboratories or mechanical work areas. Safety shoes protect the feet against injuries from heavy falling objects, being crushed by rolling objects or lacerations from sharp edges. Safety shoes are required for employees whose job duties require the lifting, carrying, moving, etc. of objects weighing more than fifteen pounds which, if dropped, would likely result in a foot or toe injury.

Employees required to wear safety shoes can receive a subsidy for one pair of shoes per year. Contact your department if you have questions about whether your job duties require safety shoes and your eligibility for this subsidy. Contact Environment, Health and Safety for further questions about foot protection.

Laboratory personnel are required to wear eye protection during any experiment or laboratory procedure, regardless of anticipated eye hazards. The type of eye protection required depends on the nature of the hazard and how frequently the hazard is encountered. Refer to the table below or chapter five of the Laboratory Safety Manual, “Protective Clothing and Equipment,” for more information.

The University is committed to a policy of providing eye and face protection devices without cost to students, employees and visitors. Each department is responsible for funding its eye and face protection program. Prescription safety glasses can be provided to employees at no cost. For information about prescription safety glasses, please contact EHS or your department representative.

Eye Protection Selection Chart
Type of Eyewear Description Example
  • Best option to protect against flying particles, chemical splashes, airborne vapors and dust
  • Vented goggles should not be used for chemical splash protection
Safety Glasses (with Side Shields)
  • Protect against flying objects
  • Must comply with ANSI Standard Z87.1, which includes side shields, 3 mm thickness, impact resistance requirements, flammability test, and lens-retaining frames.
  • Do not offer the same protection as goggles
Safety glasses
Face Shields
  • Protect the face and throat
  • Are always used in combination with safety glasses/goggles
  • Used when greater protection from flying particles and harmful liquids is required
  • May be required to meet ANSI standards
Face shield
Prescription Eyewear
  • Not adequate for laboratory protection. Contact your department representative or EHS about prescription safety eyewear
  • Do not wear Transitions® lenses in the laboratory
  • Contact lenses are not adequate eye protection but pose no additional risk to the wearer
Prescription eyewear

Respiratory protection may be necessary when working with certain chemicals, biological hazards or dusts known to cause respiratory illness. In all cases, respiratory protection is a last line of defense to be used after engineering controls (e.g. ventilation) and work practice controls (e.g. product substitution) are exhausted.

There are two types of respiratory protection: face masks and respirators. Face masks include cloth masks, surgical masks and single-strap comfort masks. These are not regulated by OSHA. In contrast, respirator use is regulated by OSHA and requires training, fit testing and medical evaluation. Respirators should not be worn ”casually” in the lab. For more information, refer to the Laboratory Safety Manual or the Respiratory Protection Program page.

Respiratory Protection Selection Chart
Type of Respiratory Protection Description Example
Surgical/Cloth Mask
  • Physical barrier against droplets of blood or body fluids
  • Not designed to prevent inhalation of aerosols
  • Not regulated by OSHA
Surgical/cloth masks
Comfort Mask with Single Strap
  • Looks like an N95 but does not offer full protection against airborne hazards
Comfort mask
N95 with Two Straps
  • Negative pressure respirator
  • Used to filter airborne particulates
  • Entire facepiece is a filter
N95 with two straps
Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
  • Use positive pressure and a filter to deliver clean air
  • Does not require fit testing
  • Does require medical clearance
Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
Half-face Air-Purifying Respirator (APR)
  • Negative pressure respirator
  • Covers the nose and mouth only
Half-face Air-Purifying Respirator (APR)
Full-face APR
  • Negative pressure respirator
  • Covers the entire face
Full-face Air-Purifying Respirator (APR)
Supplied-Air Respirator
  • Full-face respirator
  • Uses a hose to supply air from a remote air pump or stationary air cylinder
Supplied-Air Respirator
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
  • Full-face respirator
  • Uses a backpack air cylinder to supply clean air
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)

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