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The importance of proper uniform and protective equipment in laboratories

Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to all clothing and accessories designed to keep employees safe at their workplace. Personal protection begins with personal clothing choices. Usual clothes, while not considered PPE, provide some protection against chemical splash and other hazards. Closed-toe shoes are also required for lab workers to protect themselves from chemical splashes, moving machinery, sharp objects, hot materials, and falling objects. Crocs and other shoes with holes in the tops do not provide adequate foot protection. Because the worker was wearing shorts and flip-flops at the time of the accident, he received severe chemical burns on his legs and feet.

Lab workers should also avoid wearing or securing loose clothing, and they should tie back long hair. Long hair or loose clothing can get caught in equipment or get dragged through chemicals in beakers or flames (such as a Bunsen burner). Things can be knocked off the bench by long, sloppy sleeves on a shirt or sweater. The lab coat will shield contaminants from the wearer's clothing and exposed skin (such as on the arms).

If you handle hazardous materials, even in small quantities, you should wear protective gloves. It is critical to select the appropriate type of glove for the hazard, such as chemical-resistant gloves, heat-resistant gloves, etc. It is important to understand that no chemical-resistant glove can protect against all chemical endangerments. You can consult lab supply distributors for glove vs. chemical comparison charts when selecting chemically resistant gloves, or read the Material Safety Data Sheet for guidance. When working in a lab, eye and face protection are mandatory and must be worn if hazards that could cause eye or face injury exists.

Safety glasses and goggles provide impact protection, while chemical splash goggles give the best chemical splash protection. Eye protection must be worn even if the amount of chemical is small or engineering controls, such as fume hoods, are used. Other types of goggles provide laser or UV protection. Face shields shield the entire face from projectiles and provide some splash protection.

The most basic PPE required in a lab is lab coats, gloves, and safety glasses. Other hazards may necessitate the use of additional PPE.

When working in a laboratory, it is critical to be accurately dressed. If you follow the following guidelines, you can ensure that your clothing protects you from chemical spills, biological spills, and radioactive spills:


  • Always wear shoes that completely cover your feet and protect them.

  • Wear clothing that covers and protects your legs down to your ankles constantly.


  • Wear sandals, flip-flops, or clogs with open toes or heels. Shoes made of porous materials offer little protection in the event of a spill and should be avoided. High-heeled shoes are not allowed in the lab.

  • Shorts, skirts, and other clothing which do not cover your legs below your lab coat are prohibited.

Remember that proper attire is essential for being well-prepared to work in the lab. To ensure that workers are well prepared for incidents, lab coats, gloves, and safety glasses or goggles are required. Additional personal protective equipment may be required, which should be chosen based on the hazards of your job.

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