There are many hazards in the laboratory, but the right choice of personal protective equipment can make it a safer place to work.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, helps protect people from hazards. It includes proper lab attire, as well as items like gloves, safety glasses, face shields, and lab coats.
Which PPE you wear depends on the specific hazard present. Additionally, specialized equipment is necessary for situations like extreme cold, extreme heat, and radioactivity.
In this video, we will show you how to dress for the lab, as well as some specialized PPE.
When entering a laboratory, wear the minimum PPE. This includes a long sleeved shirt, long pants and closed-toed shoes. Wear a flame retardant lab coat, which fits well and is buttoned up, as loose coats risk getting caught on objects. If you need further protection from splashes or heat, wear a rubber apron.
Always wear safety glasses in the lab. These should have side shields, be impact resistant, and provide protection against flying particles and chemical splashes. Prescription eyeglasses do not provide these protections, thus protective glasses should also be worn.
Lastly, to prevent catching yourself on an object, take off any dangling jewelry, like earrings, and tie back long hair.
Gloves are an essential part of PPE, as hands are often the closest body part to hazards. There are many types of chemical resistant gloves, including latex, nitrile, neoprene, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride. The type of glove you wear depends on the substances you will be working with.
To decide what glove to wear, consult a chemical compatibility chart. The chart provides information about the glove's resistance to various chemicals. Furthermore, it lists the breakthrough time, which is the time needed for a chemical to permeate the glove.
Different physical hazards require different types of gloves. Cryogenic gloves are longer than regular gloves, and are made of a nylon outer layer and polyester inner layer. Use these gloves when handling extremely cold materials like liquid nitrogen.
Basic heat resistant gloves are made from cotton, while more advanced ones are made from nitrile rubber or Kevlar. When using these gloves, make sure that the temperature is within the operating range of the gloves.
Cut and puncture resistant gloves can be made of Kevlar or leather, and may have inserted plates. Use these gloves when handling objects like needles.
When working with high mechanical forces, use impact-resistant gloves. These have additional padding, like foam or gel layers.
Lastly, radiation requires special attenuation gloves. Leaded rubber gloves provide the most protection, but are difficult to work with and must be disposed of in hazardous waste. Gloves lined with other metals like tungsten are easier to work in, but they do not provide as much protection.
Safety glasses provide enough protection for many tasks, but sometimes more substantial face protection is needed. If you are working with substances that give off fine airborne particles, use a respirator to protect your lungs.
When working with dangerous chemicals that may splash, materials causing flying sparks, or heat, use goggles or a full face shield. For ultraviolet, infrared, or intense visible radiation, use shaded glasses or a shaded face shield.
Additionally, you must use ear protection when exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels. Both ear plugs and earmuffs will reduce the noise level by 15 to 30 decibels. Use both simultaneously if the noise is in excess of 105 decibels.
Finally, PPE does not always provide sufficient hazard protection, and engineering controls like fume hoods also reduce risks.
You've just watched JoVE's introduction to personal protective equipment. You should now understand basic lab wear, gloves, and face protection. Thanks for watching!