Chemical Safety: Personal Protective Equipment

All campus research laboratories are required to complete the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT) and update it at least annually. LHAT facilitates identification of hazards and identifies the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be used during the specified work activities. All laboratory personnel are required to wear PPE when working with chemicals. At a minimum this includes pants and closed toe shoes, chemically resistant gloves, a laboratory coat, and eye protection.

Glove Selection

When working with hazardous chemicals, select gloves that provide adequate protection to the chemical hazards. Disposable nitrile gloves provide short term protection against a broad range of chemicals but do not protect against all chemicals. Glove manufacturer’s websites can be consulted to determine the best glove for protecting against a chemical. 

Special PPE for Handling Pyrophorics

When working with pyrophorics the following PPE must be worn from setup to quenching of the reaction.

  • Chemical Splash goggles or safety glasses that meet the ANSI Z.87.1 1989 standard.
  • A face shield worn over safe ty glasses, is required any time there is a risk of explosion, large splash hazard or a highly exothermic reaction.
  • Ansell Kevlar® Goldknit® Lightweight 70-200 reusable base gloves must be worn and covered with a disposable neoprene glove (equal or greater size to preserve dexterity). Neoprene/Nitrile gloves should be inspected prior to each use and changed at any contact and disposed of after each use. Note: The tags on the Kevlar glove must be removed before use, since the tags themselves are not flame resistant.
  • A Nomex® laboratory coat with cotton type clothing underneath. Lab coats need to be buttoned and fit properly to cover as much skin as possible.
  • Appropriate shoes that cover the entire foot (closed toe, closed heel, no holes in the top) and long pants must be worn.
  • Avoid clothing fabrics that are made of polyester or acrylic material.

Respiratory Protection

Administrative and Engineering Controls should always be used first to help ensure exposures to dust and fumes are below the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL’s). If this is not feasible, a respirator is required. Use of a respirator has several requirements which may include the following:

  • Annual medical evaluations and fit testing.
  • Education and training on the proper use, storage and cleaning procedures for respirators.
  • Training on how to adjust equipment and ensure proper fit to maximize protection from dusts and fumes.
  • If you think your laboratory procedures require the use of a respirator contact your Department Safety Advisor for assistance.