Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing or equipment designed to minimize exposure to hazards that cause injury or illness. This category of control relies on workers wearing PPE that is appropriate to the hazards and that fits correctly. As a result, PPE should never be relied on exclusively to address hazards in the workplace and should be used in tandem with other measures such as elimination, substitution, engineering and administrative controls.

The following are basic PPE requirements for university labs:

  • Fully-fastened laboratory coat.
  • Safety glasses.
  • Gloves.
  • Closed-toe shoes.
  • Long pants or equivalent.

Researchers must also determine, through hazard assessment, PPE specifications and whether additional PPE is required. Once you have determined your PPE needs, complete and post this PPE checklist in your laboratory.

Select gloves based on the type of hazardous material being used in the laboratory. For example:

  • Biological: disposable gloves.
  • Chemical: consult glove selection chart or safety data sheet to select the appropriate glove.
  • UV radiation: cotton gloves.
  • Physical: abrasion-resistant gloves.

Working in an area with dust, vapours or splash hazards? Splash goggles offer the following advantages over safety glasses:

  • Seal around eyes.
  • Protect against hazards from all directions.
  • Can be worn over prescription glasses.

Respirators protect the wearer against exposure to airborne contaminants. They should only be used if engineering and administrative controls are insufficient to control a hazard. All respirator users must be fit-tested, a service that HSE provides free of charge to the university community.

Respiratory Protective Equipment

Depending on hazards in the laboratory, additional PPE may be required, e.g.:

  • Hearing protection (note that noise-exposed employees must undergo audiometric testing).
  • Hard hat.
  • Acid-resistant apron (for work with strong acids and bases).
  • Disposable sleeves (e.g., for work with high radioactivity research work).
  • Other PPE as determined by a hazard assessment.