If you work in a laboratory, then you know how important PPE for laboratory workers can be. In a lab setting, there are a lot of dangerous chemicals that are used to carry out a variety of tests. For these reasons, it is critical for everyone to make sure they have the right laboratory PPE to meet their needs. When looking for personal protective equipment in a laboratory, there are a few important factors to consider.
What Is Laboratory PPE?
First, it is important for everyone to know what PPE for laboratory jobs entails. When it comes to personal protective equipment, this is meant to provide barrier protection between the worker and any dangerous chemicals, substances, and pathogens with which that person might come into contact. This barrier protection also extends to any and all work accessories including valuable equipment, reagents, and students who might be shadowing.
There are serious hazards that exist in laboratories, as workers often deal with strong acids, bases, and other caustic substances that present a health hazard. In this manner, personal protection often starts with personal clothing choices. Short skirts and open toe shoes should never be worn inside a lab. Once people have the right personal clothing, they can take a closer look at personal protective equipment. There are a few key areas that need to be addressed when it comes to PPE in laboratory.
Head and Ears Protection
One of the most often overlooked areas when it comes to laboratory PPE equipment is the head and ears. There are a lot of laboratories that require specialized personal protective equipment for the head and ears. For example, those who work in industrial or physical testing locations often require earplugs to protect against loud noises. It only takes one exposure to a particularly loud situation to lead to serious audiological damage that might impact someone’s ability to do his or her job. This is where earplugs can be helpful.
There are several types of earplugs that might be worn by people in this situation. People need to find the right earplugs to fit their ears. They should be comfortable, stay in place, and not have any gaps through which loud noises might flow.
There are some situations where someone might need personal protective equipment for their head as well. The most common type of head personal protective equipment is a helmet. Helmets go through extensive testing to make sure they can stand up to the stresses of the dangers to which they might be exposed. Those who work in an area with a lot of overhead dangers need to remain alert. Helmets only work if they stay in place. Therefore, people should find a helmet that they are comfortable wearing for a prolonged period of time, that stays in place easily, and can stand up to a significant impact from above. Head injuries are always serious and the best way to handle them is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Protection for the Eyes
Protection for the eyes and face is one of the most important areas of PPE laboratory safety. There are plenty of situations where someone might be working with materials that might be hazardous to the eyes and face. This includes anyone who works with something that is liquid or gaseous in nature. There are lots of goggles that can be used to protect workers from different types of hazards that might be present. Safety glasses are put in place to prevent potential impacts that might strike someone directly. This could include shrapnel if something blows apart. On the other hand, goggles are used to protect someone against splashes that might come from dangerous chemicals. It is important for people to know whether they need safety glasses or safety goggles. There are types of equipment that double as both.
In addition, some people might need something called a head shield or a face shield. This is something that is used to protect against a potential explosion. This is specialized equipment that might not be needed in most situations; however, those who need this type of protection must make sure they have the right equipment. Of note, some people might need specialized equipment if they are working with UV rays.
Hand and Foot Protection
Next, everyone who works in a lab must make sure they have the right personal protective equipment when it comes to the hands and feet. PPE for laboratory workers almost always includes this category. The most basic type of personal protective equipment is gloves. Gloves are meant to be worn by people who are handling hazardous chemicals. There are three common materials that people might work with when it comes to gloves. Gloves are commonly made out of latex, nitrile, and vinyl. Latex gloves are usually the least expensive; however, their popularity has waned during the past few years. This is largely because there has been a rise in the prevalence of latex allergies. Therefore, many people are looking to steer away from this material when it comes to gloves. The result is that nitrile gloves have become more popular.
In addition, some people might need to wear additional protection for their feet. First, it is critical for people to remember that they need to wear close toe shoes all times in the lab. Some people might be asked to wear personal protective equipment for their shoes as well. These are usually called booties. Many people who work with liquids, including blood, simply wear this type of personal protective equipment to protect their shoes and feet. This also prevents them from tracking dangerous liquids outside the lab.
There are also some situations where someone might be asked to wear additional protection for the torso. This is where personal protective equipment for the body is key. One of the most basic types of protection that someone might need to wear when it comes to personal protective equipment for the body is a lab coat. There are lots of different types of lab coats. Many people are familiar with the white coats that doctors wear around a hospital. This is the most common type of lab coat; however, it is important for people to find the right personal protective equipment when it comes to torso protection.
Lab coats are a great place to start when it comes to torso protection in the lab. First, make sure lab coats have buttons so that they can be buttoned up when needed for additional protection. Next, try to find a lab coat that has plenty of pockets. This is going to be important for keeping track of items that might be needed throughout the day. In addition, consider how long the lab coat is. There are some situations where someone might need a longer lab coat that extends closer to the waist for added protection. Finally, consider the comfort of the lab coat as well. Some lab coats can feel quite heavy while others might not be that breathable. People should feel comfortable in the lab coat. Otherwise, they might not wear it at all. These are a few of the most important factors to consider when it comes to body and torso personal protective equipment.
Protection for the Respiratory System: Gas Mask and Cartridges
Finally, some people might need to wear personal protective equipment for the respiratory system as well. This is usually referred to as inhalation protection. This is also called a gas mask. Anyone who is working with caustic fumes or poisonous gases must make sure they are doing these experiments underneath a range hood with a working vent. Then, they need to make sure they wear a gas mask as well.
What sets gas masks apart from each other is the cartridge type. For example, someone who is using a cartridge that is meant to filter organic vapors is not going to be kept safe from carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is always a good idea to find a mask that will work well with various cartridges. This means that the wearer can swap out the cartridges with ease depending on the laboratory PPE requirements.
Laboratory Clothing Requirements
In addition to the personal protective equipment itself, it is important for people to remember the requirements when it comes to personal clothes in the lab. Some of the key requirements to note include:
- There should not be any short skirts or pants to prevent them from getting caught.
- Closed-toe shoes need to be worn at all times while in the lab.
- Long hair is not recommended due to the threat of chemicals and burns.
- Clothing should be comfortable but also tight .
When it comes to working in a lab, safety should always come first.
Find the Right Laboratory Personal Protective Equipment
These are a few of the most common types of personal protective equipment that people might need to wear in a lab. While it is important for this clothing to be comfortable, safety always has to come first. Therefore, everyone should take a look at the types of chemicals with which they work as well as the experiments they conduct on a regular basis. Then, they need to find the personal protective equipment that is right for their needs. This will go a long way toward keeping themselves, as well as others, safe.
Some of the related products for personal protective equipment include: