Protective Equipment (PPE) includes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, gloves, lab coats, aprons, ear plugs, and respirators.  Personal protective equipment is carefully selected to ensure that it is compatible with the chemicals and the process used.

Eye Protection

  • Safety glasses or chemical goggles must be donned before entering any wet bench lab, including cell culture labs. This applies to lab visitors, GT maintenance and custodial workers as well as staff and students.
  • Safety glasses must meet the ANSI Z87.1 – 2010 standard for impact resistance and have side shields for splash protection.
  • Chemical goggles may be required for certain processes where safety glasses are deemed inadequate.
  • Safety glasses or goggles must be worn over prescription glasses.  Safety glasses worn over prescription glasses must be of a type intended for this purpose (Often referred to as Over Glass Safety Glasses).  Regular prescription glasses will not provide adequate protection in this case.
  • Prescription safety glasses are acceptable as long as they have side shields for splash protection. (Check with your department to see if they fund such purchases.)  Side shields must also meet the Z87.1 standard for impact resistance and be non-vented.
  • Safety glasses or goggles have required in all labs where soldering or machining/grinding occurs.

Lab Coats

  • Shall be donned before handling chemicals, biologicals, or unsealed radiological sources.
  • Shall cover the wearer to the knees
  • Lab Coat fabric of poly-cotton blends is acceptable. Exceptions include:
    • Labs where open flames are used (such as alcohol burners)- lab coats must be made of 100% cotton or flame-resistant material.
    • Labs where pyrophoric materials are handled- lab coats must be of flame-resistant materials.
  • Contact EHS (404-894-4635) for information about lab coat supply/laundry service.

For more information see the GT Laboratory and Personal Protective Equipment Policy.

Face Protection

  • Face shields worn over safety glasses may be required for certain processes as determined by the Principle Investigator (PI) and/or GT EHS.
  • Face shields must always be worn over safety glasses or goggles, not instead of safety glasses or goggles
  • Processes involving high-pressure reactors (>30 PSI) or pneumatic lines (>30 PSI), high-pressure air lines, machining operations, and some cryogenic procedures require the use of face shields over safety glasses.

Hand Protection

Chemically Resistant Gloves

Gloves, especially, should be chosen carefully:  They must be resistant to the chemicals being used but also not put the wearer at risk because of loss of dexterity, risk of ergonomic injury (such as increased muscle strain from gloves that are too heavy or stiff for pipetting, handling small objects, etc.), or increased risk of being caught in rotating equipment from gloves that are too loose on the user’s hands.

While there is no single glove material that provides 100% protection from all chemicals, a good all-purpose glove is the nitrile exam glove.  Latex gloves, which have been the most commonly used glove in labs for many years, are not resistant to many of the most common solvents found in laboratories.  Additionally, latex is a natural product and is also a powerful allergen that readily becomes airborne on glove powder each time a glove is removed.  Most hospitals have banned the use of powdered latex gloves.  Many institutions have banned latex gloves entirely.

Consult the Safety Data Sheet section on handling instructions before selecting gloves. Some, but not all SDSs contain glove selection information.  If you have questions about appropriate glove selection, contact EHS (404-894-4635).  Be sure to include the name of the chemical and the CAS number.

General Rules Regarding Chemically Resistant Glove Use
  • Nitrile exam gloves are the general-purpose glove of choice in all Georgia Tech wet bench labs.
  • Cell culture labs, labs that deal with only biological samples or live animals, and labs where the purpose of glove use is to protect the product or the lab from human skin oils, may use powder-free-latex gloves. 
  • Select gloves which are appropriate for the chemical(s) being used and also the process
  • Before use, check gloves (even new ones) for physical damage such as tears or pin holes and for previous chemical damage: this is especially important when dealing with dangerous materials such as HF (Hydrofluoric Acid).
  • When working, it may be advisable to wash the external surface of the gloves frequently with water.
  • Most chemically resistant gloves, especially lightweight disposables, are combustible: keep hands well away from unprotected flames or other high-temperature heat sources.
  • When removing gloves, do so in a way that avoids the contaminated exterior contacting the skin (see diagram)
  • Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Dispose of contaminated gloves properly.
  • Do not attempt to re-use disposable gloves.
  • Never wear possibly contaminated gloves outside of the laboratory or handle telephones, computer keyboards, etc.

Gloves for Protection against Heat or Cold

Thermal gloves for cryogenic applications are commercially available in a variety of lengths to be appropriate for the application. One should remember, however, that no cryo-protective glove is intended to provide protection against direct immersion in cryogenic liquids. Cryo-protective aprons are also available.

Respiratory Protection

Respirators are a last resort when it comes to protecting people in the workplace. Under the Georgia Tech, Respiratory protection program and the Federal Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910. 134) employers are required to determine that no other method of protecting the employee is feasible before resorting to the use of respirators.

What is a respirator?

A respirator is a device designed to protect the wearer from inhalation of harmful substances. When chosen correctly and used properly, respirators can protect the wearer from harmful gases, mists, vapors, fumes, and fine particulates.  Respirators fall into the following two general classifications, according to the mode of operation:

  • atmosphere-supplying respirators
self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
supplied air (SA) or airline respirator
  • air-purifying respirators
N-95 filtering face piece respirator
Half-face air purifying respirator (HF APR) with an elastomeric face piece
Full face air purifying respirator (FF APR) with an elastomeric face piece

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