Environmental Health & Safety

Personal Protective Equipment

Principal Investigators (PIs) or laboratory Supervisors are required to provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees as required by the Washington State Department of Safety and Health. (Policy Reference - WAC 296-800-160).

If personal protective equipment is used, Principal Investigators (PIs) or laboratory Supervisors are required to perform and certify a hazard assessment. A Template has been developed to assist you with this requirement and is attached to the Standard Operating Procedure Template located in Appendix M of this manual. (Policy Reference - WAC 296-800-16005)

Protective equipment must be selected and specified for the protection of employees. Employees must be trained to properly don, use and care for the specified personal protective equipment. A written certificate must be completed that this training has been done. A template is attached with the Hazard Assessment Certification and is located in Appendix M of this manual

1.    General Requirements and Recommendations for Laboratory Apparel

  1. Appropriate clothing must be worn, including a protective apron or laboratory coat to protect against chemical splashes or spills, cold, heat, moisture and radiation. Use protective apparel, including face shields or goggles, gloves, and other special clothing or footwear as needed.
  2. Skin, eyes, and respiratory tract should always be protected from possible exposure by use of appropriate laboratory clothing, goggles/ face shields and respirators. For additional information see the Fact Sheet - Eye and Face Protection.
  3. Jewelry should be removed from wrists and hands to prevent chemicals from collecting underneath, contacting electrical sources, catching on laboratory equipment, and/or damaging the jewelry itself. For the same reasons, jewelry which loosely dangles from neck or ears should not be worn.
  4. To prevent spreading contamination to family and friends, laboratory coats should be removed before leaving the laboratory.
  5. Loose apparel should be confined.
  6. Long pants should be worn at all times.
  7. Open-toed shoes or sandals should not be worn in the laboratory. For additional information, see the Fact Sheet - Foot and Leg Protection.
  8. If laboratory coats are contaminated with hazardous chemicals, they should be removed immediately, and properly laundered, or disposed of as hazardous chemical waste.
  9. If laboratory clothing is cleaned by a linen service contractor, contractor employees must be informed if contamination of laboratory clothing presents a danger to cleaning service employees.
2.    Gloves

  1. Gloves should be worn whenever working with chemicals, rough or sharp-edged objects, or very hot or very cold materials. Gloves are available from Central Stores (335-4583), or from safety supply companies.
  2. Select gloves based on the material being handled, the particular hazard involved, and their suitability for the procedures being conducted. Glove manufacturers list thickness and permeation rates of glove materials for various chemicals. In order to select the appropriate glove, refer to the links contained in Appendix F, read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), or consult EH&S. EH&S has additional references designed to aid in proper glove selection available upon request.
  3. Gloves are eventually permeated by chemicals. Inspect gloves before each use for discoloration, punctures, and tears.
  4. Gloves should be changed often depending on their frequency of use and permeability to the chemical(s) handled.
  5. Double-layering of gloves (wearing one pair of gloves over another) is encouraged whenever very hazardous chemicals are handled, or when glove surfaces are expected to protect the worker from more than one kind of hazard. For example:

    i. For mixtures of chemicals, an interior glove may be chosen which protects the worker against exposure to chemical "A" of the mixture, while an over-glove protects the worker against exposure to chemical "B".

    ii. A durable over-glove should be used by workers handling chemicals, and at the same time contacting equipment or surfaces which are abrasive. The inner glove is designed to protect the worker against skin exposure to the chemical, while the outer glove protects the inner glove from abrasion or puncture.
For additional information, see the Fact Sheets - Hand Protection.

3.    Respirators

The WSU Respiratory Protection Program is established to insure a healthful working environment for WSU employees through the proper training in the use of respiratory protection equipment. All use of respirators at WSU comes under the requirements of the WSU Respiratory Protection Program, including routine and non-routine operations, emergency response, and work in confined spaces.

If a hazard assessment determines that use of a respirator may be required for specific tasks WSU EH&S will assist you with meeting the requirements of WSU's Respiratory Protection Program.

Following are the requirements of the WSU Respiratory Program
(Policy Reference - SPPM S3.24)

  1. A hazard assessment/work area evaluation conducted by Environmental Health & Safety.
  2. Proper selection of respiratory equipment.
  3. Respiratory protection training, fit testing, and certification conducted by Environmental Health & Safety.
  4. An evaluation of the fitness of each respirator user to wear a respirator safely conducted by a qualified occupational health medical practitioner.
  5. Respirator users must be re-certified at least annually.
For more information about the WSU Respiratory Protection Program call Environmental Health & Safety at 335-3041. See also the Factsheet, Respiratory Protection.

Environmental Health & Safety, PO Box 641172, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1172, 509-335-3041, Contact Us