Personal protective equipment (PPE) is used whenever engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or do not adequately protect workers from hazards. PPE in laboratories usually includes lab coats, safety glasses, and gloves.  Other PPE can be goggles, hard hats, safety shoes, respirators, disposable or cloth overalls, aprons, and other protective gear. REHS assists departments in evaluating work tasks that require PPE, providing appropriate selection criteria, and offering training.

It is essential to choose PPE that is specific to the hazard and type of work to be performed. PPE must be compatible with chemical hazards, provide proper dexterity, limit eyesight interference, fit properly, and be comfortable. If these factors are not considered, the likelihood of consistent PPE use is diminished.

Some types of PPE (i.e. respirators) require a medical exam and fit test prior to use. Please refer to the Respiratory Protection section for further information.


Lab Coats

Protection against contact with hazardous materials is important for health and safety. Many chemicals can cause skin damage or provoke allergic reactions. Some toxic chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. Skin can be damaged by friction or from extremes of heat. In biological work, skin contamination can lead to infection.

Lab coats are required for many laboratory operations.  At a minimum, a laboratory coat or equivalent protective clothing, is required for activities involving the use of:

  • hazardous chemicals (including but not limited to flammables, corrosives, toxic, carcinogenic, particularly hazardous substances, etc.), as contained in the Chemical Hygiene Guide or Laboratory Safety Plan (CHP);
  • unsealed radioactive materials, as required by the Radiological Safety Guide;
  • bloodborne pathogen and biological agents at BSL2 or greater, as required by the Exposure Control Plan (ECP), Biological Safety Guide or the Bloodborne Pathogen Guide (BBP); and
  • animal handling, as required by IACUC.

One size does not fit all.  Lab coats should fit properly to protect the wearer.

The Supervisor/PI is responsible for determining when and where in the lab PPE is required, including lab coats, and that they are available, utilized and maintained appropriately by lab personnel.  To assist in this process, please use the following resources:

Lab Coat Vendors

University Procurement has awarded contracts to the following vendors:

  • Cintas will provide the university with flame retardant and chemical resistant lab coats, consistent with the university guidelines
  • Unitex will provide the university with 100% cotton lab coats for purchase or rental, as well as laundering services for ANY lab coats, consistent with university guidelines
  • Medline will provide undergraduate students with lab coats for lab courses that require them; they can be purchased online by students (and parents)

Please contact University Procurement for information.  https://procurementservices.rutgers.edu/


Eye Protection

Eye protection is required when working with chemicals on the bench or in a fume hood.  Safety glasses have safety frames constructed of metal or plastic and impact-resistant lenses.  Side protection is required.  All safety glasses must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1.  Please be aware that most prescription glasses do not meet the standard for safety glasses.

Chemical Splash Goggles are tight fitting eye protection that completely covers the eyes, eye sockets and facial area surrounding the eyes and would be required when working with hazardous chemicals that pose a splash hazard (i.e. when pouring larger quantities of chemicals, when using cryogenic liquids).  Provides protection from impact, dust, and splashes.  Must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1.


Gloves

Protection against contact with hazardous materials is important for health and safety. Many chemicals can cause skin damage or provoke allergic reactions. Some toxic chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. Skin can be damaged by friction or from extremes of heat. In biological work, skin contamination can lead to infection.

Given the wide range of work being done at Rutgers no single glove will meet the needs of everyone. Gloves must be selected on the basis of the materials being handled and the type of work undertaken.

When Should Gloves Be Worn?

Gloves should be worn when handling:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Corrosive materials
  • Materials with sharp or rough edges
  • Very hot or very cold materials

They are a control measure of last resort and should always be used in conjunction with other measures. This is because:

  • Gloves only protect the wearer – they do not remove the contaminant from the workplace environment.
  • If protective gloves are used incorrectly, or badly maintained, the wearer may not be protected - when gloves fail, they fail and allow for skin contact which exposes the user to the contaminant.
  • Gloves themselves can cause skin problems.
  • Wearing gloves interferes with the wearer’s sense of touch.
  • The extent of protection depends on good fit.
  • Some types of glove are inconvenient and interfere with the way people work.

However, by selecting the right glove for the task at hand, by understanding the limitations of the selected glove and by knowing how to use them, gloves can help eliminate the potential for exposure.

Disposable vs Reusable Gloves

Disposable gloves are thin, generally 4 - 8 mils thick. This allow the user to retain good touch sensitivity and dexterity, but they have poor chemical resistance. They are designed to protect against incidental rather than intentional contact with chemicals and should be changed after any splash. They are designed for single use only and should be discarded after use.

Disposable gloves are not suitable for handling some aggressive or highly hazardous chemicals. They provide little useful protection against physical hazards as they easily tear or puncture if snagged.

Re-usable gloves are 18 - 28 mils thick. They offer greater protection than disposables against abrasion and other physical hazards, are less likely to tear in use and will resist chemical attack for longer. However, they interfere more with dexterity and touch sensitivity and can still be damaged or penetrated by many chemicals. They need to be inspected before and after use to prolong their usefulness.

Re-usable gloves usually have a longer cuff length than a disposable glove made with the same material, and so offer better protection against liquid slopping over the top of the glove.

Care of reusable gloves – Re-useable gloves need to washed and dried after work to avoid accidental skin contamination when next putting the gloves on. This is especially important if the work has involved immersion or handling of chemicals that can permeate the glove material.
If frequently re-used the gloves should periodically be turned inside out and the inner surface washed and rinsed off. Re-useable gloves should be inspected before each use for discoloration, cracking at flexion points or damage and should be discarded if found. They must also be discarded if the inside becomes contaminated.

Incidental Contact vs Intentional Contact

Incidental contact refers to tasks where there is no intended direct contact with the hazardous material. Exposure will only occur through a splash or spill. Most types of disposable gloves can provide adequate protection provided that, when used to protect against chemical hazards, they are changed immediately after a splash or spill occurs.

Intentional contact refers to tasks where contact with the hazardous material is inevitable e.g., immersing hands in liquids, direct handling of a substance rather than its container or handling of materials coated or saturated with the hazardous substance(s) e.g. a cleaning rag. There is therefore relatively lengthy contact with significant amounts of the hazardous substance.

When selecting a glove for protection against intentional contact with chemicals, it is necessary to select a glove made from a material that offers good resistance to attack or permeation from the specific chemicals in use. This will often require a reusable glove. Check the glove manufacturer’s website for the permeability ratings or chemical resistance ratings to choose the right glove for the chemical exposure.

Gloving Materials

There are a number of gloving materials available and each glove type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Use the links below for the glove manufacturers to determine the appropriate glove for your application.

There are four factors to consider when deciding which glove is suitable for your work

(a) The type of hazard (chemical, etc.)
(b) The task
(c) The user (size and fit, state of health, etc.)
(d) The workplace conditions (ergonomics, temperature, wet or dry, etc.),

They need to be considered together and not in isolation as it is their interaction that will determine the suitability of the glove.


References

OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Standard (29 CFR 1910.132)

OSHA Eye and Face Protective Standard (29 CFR 1910.133)

OSHA Respiratory Protective Standard (29 CFR 1910.134)

Clinical and Laboratory Coat Use Guidelines 

Clinical and Laboratory Coat Quick Selection Guide


Clothing

NIOSH/Chemical Protective Clothing Selection Guide


Gloves

Best Glove Chemical Resistant Guide

Ansell Glove Chemical Resistance Guide

Safeskin (Kimberly-Clark) Glove Chemical Resistance Guide [pdf]

MAPA Professional Chemical Resistance Guide

Honeywell Chemical Resistance Guide [pdf]


Contacts

Overall Program Management - Mark McLane , or call (848) 445-2550

Health Safety Specialists (By Campus Assignment), or call 848-445-2550