A laboratory personnel must be proactive to ensure that the laboratory is a safe working environment. This attitude begins with wearing appropriate apparel and using proper eye, face, hand, and foot protection when working with hazardous materials. Next we’re going to talk about the personal protective equipment in a lab.
Laboratory Safety Equipment
Clothing that leaves large areas of skin exposed is inappropriate in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are in use. Personal clothing should fully cover the body. Appropriate laboratory coats should be worn, buttoned, with the sleeves rolled down. Leave lab coats in the laboratory to minimize the possibility of spreading chemicals to public assembly, eating, or office areas, and clean them regularly.
Always wear protective apparel if there is a possibility that personal clothing could become contaminated or damaged with chemically hazardous material. Washable or disposable clothing worn for laboratory work with especially hazardous chemicals includes special laboratory coats and aprons, jumpsuits, special boots, shoe covers, and gauntlets, as well as splash suits. Protection from heat, moisture, cold, and radiation may be required in special situations. Among the factors to be considered in choosing protective apparel, in addition to the specific application, are resistance to physical hazards, flexibility and ease of movement, chemical and thermal resistance, and ease of cleaning or disposal.
Not all types of footwear are appropriate in a laboratory where both chemical and mechanical hazards may exist. Wear substantial shoes in areas where hazardous chemicals are in use or mechanical work is being done. Clogs, perforated shoes, sandals, and cloth shoes do not provide protection against spilled chemicals. In many cases, safety shoes are advisable. Steel toes are recommended when working with heavy objects such as gas cylinders. Shoe covers may be required for work with especially hazardous materials. Shoes with conductive soles prevent buildup of static charge, and insulated soles can protect against electrical shock.
Eye and Face Protection
Appropriate eye protection is a requirement for working in a chemical laboratory. Requisite eye protection should be provided for laboratory personnel and visitors, and signs should be posted outside the laboratory indicating that eye protection is required where hazardous chemicals are in use. Ordinary prescription glasses with hardened lenses do not serve as eye protection in the laboratory. Appropriate laboratory eye and face protection includes impact goggles with splash protection (chemical splash goggles), full-face shields that also protect the throat, and specialized eye protection (i.e., protection against ultraviolet light or laser light).
Use gloves that are appropriate to the degree and type of hazard. At all times pay special attention to the hands and any skin that is likely to be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Wear proper protective gloves when handling hazardous chemicals, toxic materials, materials of unknown toxicity, corrosive materials, rough or sharp-edged objects, and very hot or very cold objects.
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