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Personal Protective Equipment
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Laboratory Cartoon

OSHA's new final standard on personal protective equipment, 29CFR 1910 132, Subpart imposes several new and important requirements relating to basic safety and health programs. The standard adds new general requirements for the  selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Included in these requirements are the following:

  • Employers must conduct a hazard assessment to determine if hazards present necessitate
     the use of PPE.

  • Employers must certify in writing that the hazard assessment was conducted.

  • PPE selection must be made on the basis of hazard assessment and affected workers
     properly trained.

  • Defective or damaged PPE must not be used.

  • Established training requirements for employees using PPE must be established. This should include requirements for employees to demonstrate an understanding of the training.

  • Employer must certify in writing that training programs were provided and understood.

A variety of laboratory personal protective equipment is commercially available and commonly used in laboratories. However, for the equipment to perform the desired function, it must be used and managed properly. Laboratory supervisors and/or departmental chemical hygiene officers shall determine a need for such equipment, monitor its effectiveness, train the employees, and monitor and enforce the proper use of such equipment.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is mandatory in all areas where there is potential for injury. This applies to both permanent and temporary employees.

SafetyGooglesFace Shield

  1. For most situations, safety glasses with side shields are adequate. Please note that the wearing of safety glasses does not excuse the employee from the requirement of wearing safety goggles.

  2. Where there is a danger of splashing chemicals, flying particles, goggles are required. Examples are: washing glassware in chromic acid solution, grinding materials, or laboratory operations using glassware where there is significant hazard of explosion or breakage (i.e., in reduced or excess pressure or temperature).

  3. More hazardous operations include conducting reactions which have potential for explosion and using or mixing strong caustics or acids. In these situations, a face shield or a combination of face shield and safety goggles or glasses should be used.

  4. It is recommended that contact lenses not be permitted in the laboratory. The reasons for this prohibition are:

    • If a corrosive liquid should splash in the eye, the natural reflex to clamp the eyelids shut makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the contact lens before damage is done.

    • The plastic used in contact lenses is permeable to some of the vapors found in the laboratory. These vapors can be trapped behind the lenses and can cause extensive irritation.

    • The lenses can prevent tears from removing the irritant. If the employee choose to wear contact lenses then they shall wear the protective goggles which fits loosely around the eyes and have no vents for access by vapors. If chemical vapors contact the eyes while wearing contact lenses, these steps should be followed:

      1. Immediately remove the lenses.
      2. Continuously flush the eyes, for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
      3. Seek medical attention.

    Eye Wash
  5. If, despite all precautions, an employee should experience a splash of corrosive liquid in the eye, the employee is to proceed (with the assistance of a co-worker, if possible) to the nearest eyewash fountain and flush the eyes with water for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Flush from the eye outward. During this time, a co-worker should notify the proper authorities.

  6. Visitors shall follow the same eye protection policy as employees. If they do not provide their own eye protection, it is the laboratory's responsibility to provide adequate protection. It should be the responsibility of the employee conducting the tour to enforce this policy. After use safety glasses/goggles used by visitors should be cleaned prior to reuse.

     Quiz for Eye Protection


    The following guidelines for laboratory clothing are offered strictly from a safety standpoint.

    • Due to the potential for ignition, absorption, and entanglement in machinery, loose or torn clothing should be avoided unless wearing a lab coat.

    • Dangling jewelry and excessively long hair pose the same type of safety hazard.

    • Finger rings or other tight jewelry which is not easily removed should be avoided because of the danger of corrosive or irritating liquids getting underneath the piece and producing irritation.

    • Lab coats should be provided for protection and convenience. They should be worn at all times in the lab areas. Due to the possible absorption and accumulation of chemicals in the material, lab coats should not be worn in the lunchroom or elsewhere outside the laboratory.

    • Where infectious materials are present, closed (snapped) lab coats and gloves are essential.

    • Shoes shall be worn at all times in the laboratories. Sandals, open-toed shoes, and shoes with woven uppers, shall not be worn because of the danger of spillage of corrosive or irritating chemicals.

    • Care should be exercised in protective clothing selection; some protective clothing has very limited resistance to selected chemicals or fire.

    • Consult the MSDS for a chemical to find out the recommended clothing or PPE for a particular chemical. (Examples are latex, nitrile, or PVC gloves, or aprons.)

     Quiz for Clothing Protection

    Glove Selection Guide

    A Table of Suggested Glove Selection for Incidental and Extended Chemical Contacts


    Incidental Contact

    Extended Contact

    Acetic Acidnitrileneoprene, butyl rubber
    Acetic Anhydride nitrile (8 mil), double gloveneoprene, butyl rubber
    Acetonenatural rubber (latex)(8 mil)butyl rubber
    Acrylamidenitrilebutyl rubber, polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
    Alkali Metalsnitrile
    Ammonium HydroxideNitrileneoprene, buty rubber
    Arsenic Saltsnitrile
    Benzotriazola, 1,2,3-nitrile
    Butanolnitrileneoprene, buty rubber
    Butyric Acidnitrileneoprene, buty rubber
    Cadmium Saltsnitrile
    Carbon Disulfidenitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavierviton, polyvinyl acetate
    Carbon Tetrachloridenitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavierviton
    Catecholnitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavier
    Chloroformnitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavierviton, polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
    Chromium Salts nitrile
    Cobalt Chloridenitrile nitrile
    Cobalt Saltnitrile
    Copper (Cupric) Sulfatenitrile
    Cyrogenic Liquidscyro-gloves
    3,3'-Diaminobenzidine (DAB)nitrilenitrile, double glove
    Diazomethane in Ethernitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heaviernorfoil
    Dichloromethanenitrile (8 mil), double gloveviton, polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
    2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acidnitrile
    2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acidnitrile
    Diethyl Pyrocarbonatenitrilenitrile, double glove
    Dimethyle Sulfoxidenatural rubber (15-18 mil)butyl rubber
    1,4-Dioxanenitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavierbutyl rubber
    Ethidium Bromide (EtBr)nitrilenitrile, double glove
    Ethyl Acetatenitrile (8 mil), double glovebutyl rubber, PVA
    Ethyl Ethernitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heavierpolyvinyl acetate PVA
    Formaidenitrilebutyl rubber
    Formic Acidnitrile (8 mil), double glovebutyl rubber, neoprene (.28-.33mm)
    Gallic Acid nitrile
    Heavy Metal Saltsnitrilenitrile, double glove
    Heptanenitrile (8 mil), double glove, or 15 mil or heaviernitrile, (335 mils or thicker, viton, PVA
    Hexamethylenediamine (1,6-Diaminohexane) nitrile (8 mil)neoprene
    Hexanenitrile (8 mil), double glove, 15 mil or heaviernitrile (35 mils or thicker), viton, PVA)
    Hydrochloric Acid nitrile (8 mil)neoprene, butyl rubber
    Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)nitrile (8 mil)double glovenitrile or rubber sleeves
    Hypophosphorous Acid nitrile (4mil) , double glove or 8 mil or heavier
    Isoamyl alcohol nitrile
    Isoctane nitrile heavier weight nitrile
    Isopropanol nitrile
    Lactic Acid nitrile nitrile (double glove), or neoprene or butyl rubber
    Lead Acetate nitrile nitrile (double glove)
    Lead Saltsnitrile
    Mercuric Chloridenitrile nitrile (double glove)
    Mercury Saltsnitrile
    Methanol (Methyl alcohol) nitrile
    Methanol Chloride nitrile(8 mil), double glove
    Methylenenitrile(8 mil), double glove polyvinyl acetate, viton
    Methylphosphonic Acid nitrile (4 mil), double glove 8 mil or heavier nitrile
    Methyl Sulfonic Acid, Ethyl Ester (EMS) (Ethyl Methanesulfonate) nitrile(8 mil) nitrile, double glove
    Nickel Chloride nitrile nitrile, double glove
    Nickel Saltsnitrile nitrile, double glove
    Nitric Acidnitrile (8 mil), double glove heavier weight (.28-.33mm) butyl rubber or neoprene
    N-Methylethanolamine nitrile (8 mil), double glove viton, neoprene, butyl rubber

     Quiz for the Personal Protective Equipment

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