PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) AND CLOTHING  

1.    General Procedures
2.    Eye and Face Protection
3.    Skin Protection
4.    Respirators

1.    General Procedures

Most personal protective clothing and equipment is provided by the University of the Sciences to employees when and where necessary.  It is the laboratory supervisors responsibility to evaluate their work areas and tasks and assess the need for specific personal protective equipment.  This assessment must be documented through the use of the PPE Hazard Assessment Form, as required by OSHA. In addition, supervisors shall provide training on its use and be certain that all personal protective equipment and clothing is available, in working order, and is used. Contact EHRS if help is needed with the assessment, selection or training.

Also, each employee is responsible for wearing the appropriate equipment when necessary. 

The most fundamental piece of personal protective clothing is provided by each employee for his/her own use.  It is the normal clothing worn in the laboratory.   Clothing should be worn to minimize exposed skin surfaces.  Therefore, employees should wear long sleeved and long legged clothing and long lab coats.  (Labcoat should not contain nylon or synthetic fibers.)  In addition, oxford style shoes or leather sneakers with rubber soles should be worn.  The type of sole is an important consideration in preventing slips, trips, and falls.  If there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, steel-toed shoes would be required. Do not wear short sleeve shirts, short trousers or skirts, and open-toed shoes or sandals.

Carefully inspect all protective equipment before using.  Do not use defective protective equipment.  If you have any questions regarding the selection of appropriate personal protective equipment, call the Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) Department (X8925).

For a chemical to do harm to an individual, it must enter the body.  The routes of entry are inhalation, ingestion, skin absorption and injection.  If we properly protect ourselves, so that the chemical cannot enter the body, we can eliminate the chemicals ability to cause adverse effects.

2.    Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection must be worn whenever its use will reduce or eliminate injury.   The need for adequate eye protection is fundamental to the use of chemicals, including housekeeping materials such as wax strippers, detergent and toilet bowl cleaners, and operations such as grinding, drilling and sawing with power tools.  Eye protection (and at times face protection) is required wherever the potential for eye injury exists.  Eye protection must be worn whenever any employee, student or visitor is engaged in, or within the area of danger created by the use of, hazardous chemicals (including gases and vapors), corrosive materials, hot liquids, solids or gases, molten metal, injurious light radiation and activities that may create flying particles or an explosion or implosion hazard.  No personnel may enter laboratories or other areas where the above situations exist, or automated processes are in operation, without eye protection.

Ordinary street prescription glasses do not provide adequate protection. (Contrary to popular opinion, these glasses can not pass the rigorous test for industrial safety glasses).  Eye protection worn must meet the requirements of the American Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection (ANSI Z.87.1 2003)

Safety glasses must be used whenever there is a danger of getting something in the eye.  They must be equipped with side shields.  Safety glasses with side shields do not provide adequate protection from splashes.  Therefore, when the potential for a splash hazard exists, other eye protection and/or face protection must be worn.

Splash goggles  (chemical splash goggles with indirect ventilation holes) with splash proof sides should be used whenever the danger of a chemical splash exists, when working with corrosives, when heating chemicals, when working with harmful substances or if it is unknown if the substances are harmful to the eyes.

Goggles with faceshields should be used when more protection is needed.   Face shields provide protection to the face and neck. Example:  explosion or implosion (pressure or vacuum) hazard, when transferring cryogenic liquids, and when working with large volumes. (See Eye Protection in the Safety Manual)

Special eye protection is available for protection against: lasers ultraviolet (UV) welding, and brazing, or intense light sources.

Managers and laboratory supervisors are responsible for determining the type(s) of eye and/or face protection necessary, providing training on proper use, and for requiring its use.  Use the attached chart for help in determining the appropriate type of protection.

Eye protection must be made available to employees, students and visitors when the potential for eye injury exists.

If you have any questions regarding the selection of appropriate eye and face protection call the EHRS Department at X8925.

3.    Skin Protection

Laboratory coats with long sleeves offer the wearer skin protection against minor splashes, providing the chemical or biohazardous material with something to react before the skin, and offering the victim time to remove the coat.  (Do not wear nylon or synthetic fibers) Shorts and sandals should not be worn under a lab coat.

Chemically resistant aprons offer more time to react to the splash than do laboratory coats alone.  Arm guards should be worn when using an apron.  A rubberized apron should be worn whenever large volumes of corrosive chemicals are being used.

Gloves must be worn to prevent skin contact with hazardous chemicals.   When working with corrosives, allergenic, sensitizing, toxic, radioactive and etiological agents, wear gloves made of material known to be or tested and found to be resistant to permeation by the chemical or agent.  In addition, insulated gloves should be worn when working at temperature extremes.  (hot and cold)  Gloves should be inflated by whipping it in air, to check for pin-hole leaks.  (Do not inflate by mouth).

Gloves should be carefully selected using guides from the manufacturers.   General selection guides are available; however, glove resistance to chemicals will vary with the manufacturer, model and thickness.  Therefore, review a glove-resistance chart from the manufacturer you intend to buy from before purchasing gloves. Remember, NO GLOVE IS IMPERMEABLE INDEFINITELY.

Disposable nitrile gloves provide adequate protection against accidental hand contact with small quantities of most laboratory chemicals.

Laboratory workers who contaminate their gloves should immediately remove them and wash their hands.

Latex or vinyl gloves are not recommended for chemical use.

Never touch your eyes, nose, mouth, equipment, phones, doorknobs, or keyboards with potentially contaminated gloves.

Prescription safety glasses and goggles are offered annually through the EHRS Department. This makes low cost prescription eyewear available to all employees with the potential of an eye injury. Contact the EHRS Department at X8925 for additional information.

These garments should not leave the laboratory, except for laundering or disposal.  (See Hand Protection and Protective Glove information in the Safety Manual)

4.    Respirators

While most operations at the University do not involve harmful concentrations of air contaminants, there are some operations which may require the use of respiratory protection. If your work requires the use of a respirator, you must receive special training from EHRS or from your supervisor who has been properly trained by EHRS.

The employer must provide approved respiratory protection (not surgical masks, which do not provide respiratory protection) when the air is contaminated with excessive concentrations of harmful dusts, fumes, mists, gases, vapors, or microorganisms. Respiratory protection may be used as a control only when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or while these controls are being developed or installed. (Examples of engineering or administrative controls include working in a hood, substitution of a less hazardous chemical or process, purchasing pre-weighed quantities or a solution rather than powder, job rotation, etc.)

Respirators are designed to protect only against specific types of substances and in certain concentration ranges, depending on the type of equipment used. Never use a respirator unless you have been assigned one and have been trained and fit-tested.

Respirator selection is based on the hazard and the protection factor required.

Types of respiratory protective equipment include:

You should familiarize yourself with the limitations of each type of respiratory protective equipment used and the signals for respirator failure. (odor breakthrough, filter clogging, etc.)

Respirators are not to be used except in conjunction with a written respiratory protection program according to OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.134.   See EHRS's Respiratory Protection Program and Personal Protective Equipment in the Safety Manual.

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South Forty-third Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495 • phone: 215-596-8800 • email: safety@usp.edu