Personal Protective Equipment

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Proper personal protective equipment is required in all lab settings when working with hazardous materials.

Determining Proper Protective Equipment

In order to determine what personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn, OSHA requires a safety assessment be made prior to beginning work. When trying to determine what hazards are associated with a specific chemical, consult the safety data sheet (SDS) for information on those hazards.

PPE in the Laboratory

At a minimum, the safety assessment should include:

  • A review of the all procedures including any lab specific  Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
  • The chemicals involved and their concentrations, review all SDS sheets
  • Type of hazard(s) associated with the chemicals
  • The risk level of the hazards
  • PPE choices that will minimize exposure to the hazards

PPE in Undergraduate Labs

When working with hazardous materials in undergraduate labs, the following minimum PPE requirements will apply (your instructor may call for additional PPE depending on the specific hazards of the chemicals you are working with):

  • Lab apron or lab coat depending on the course level
  • Long pants, no short skirts, shorts, cutoffs, etc. If lab apron in use, no short sleeve shirts.
  • Close toed shoes only, no sandals
  • Suitable gloves
  • Mono goggle type safety glasses which meet the requirements listed in ANSI Z87.1

PPE in Research Labs

In most cases, UB research labs will utilize an increased variety of hazardous materials compared to undergraduate labs. PPE choices are based on the requisite hazard assessment. Minimum PPE requirements for research labs include:

  • Lab coat that covers the arms and legs completely (depending on the hazard assessment, a lab coat manufactured of specialized material such as nomex may be required).
  • Long pants, no short skirts, shorts, cutoffs, etc.
  • Closed-toe shoes only, no sandals  
  • Nitrile or other suitable gloves
  • Safety glasses, mono goggles or splash goggles which must meet the requirements listed in ANSI standard Z87.1

Before you put on PPE, always keep the following in mind:

  • Always inspect your PPE for damage. If any rips, tears, holes, etc. are present, discard. If any signs of contamination exist, discard or if applicable arrange for laundering. If there is any doubt, throw it out!
  • Reusable PPE should be cleaned immediately after use with the appropriate cleaner.
  • Disposable PPE should be worn only once.
  • Remove your PPE prior to leaving your lab area. Do not wear PPE such as gloves in the hallway, elevators, etc. This will prevent the spread of contamination.
  • Become familiar with the proper methods for putting on, taking off, and, when applicable, fit-checking PPE.
  • Contact our experts if you are ever unsure as to what proper PPE should be worn when working with hazardous materials

Contact an Expert

head shot of Carol Schmeidler Manager, General Safety & Industrial Hygiene Programs.

Carol Schmeidler, MS, CSP

Manager, General Safety & Industrial Hygiene Programs

Environment, Health & Safety

Phone: 716-829-5833


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