Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects clinical laboratory workers from harmful materials and other hazards in the lab. Learn about the most common PPE used in a medical lab to safeguard yourself at work.
Safety glasses and safety goggles protect the wearer’s eyes from flying objects and liquids. Safety glasses include safety frames, lenses, and side shields and can withstand impact from objects that might otherwise bruise, puncture, or damage the eyes or eye area. Safety goggles fit more closely to the face with no gaps around the top, sides, and bottom.
At times, an employee might need to wear a face shield for more protection; providing adequate PPE and enforcing its use is key to creating a safe laboratory for employees.
Face shields are worn over safety glasses or goggles, not in place of them. For the best coverage, the shield should extend below the wearer’s chin and out to the wearer’s ears. The shield should also fit snugly against the person’s forehead with no gaps.
Lab coats are one of the most common types of PPE used in a medical lab. This knee-length overcoat protects the worker’s torso and arms from direct contact with substances. It also protects clothing from damage or contamination. And aside from their protective purpose, lab coats also help to identify people who work in the lab.
Gloves protect the lab employee’s hands from chemicals that can damage the skin or cause an allergic reaction. To choose gloves that provide adequate protection, consider how long it would take for the chemical to pass through the glove. Also, think about how the glove material might degrade upon contact with the chemical, such as by shrinking or cracking.
In all laboratories, workers must wear closed-toed shoes with no perforations or other openings. This protects the feet from physical and chemical hazards. Additionally, a lab worker might need to wear an overshoe or boot with a greater level of chemical resistance.