8.3 Personal Protective Equipment

Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will minimize exposure to hazards associated with many laboratory operations. PPE should satisfy performance requirements such as strength, chemical resistance and thermal resistance without inhibiting flexibility and manual dexterity.

PPE shall be selected, used, and maintained in accordance with applicable IOSH Standards and as described in EHS’s “Personal Protective Equipment Procedures.” This PPE compliance guide contains resources for completing the required Certification of Hazard Assessment and Training for employees. A Research Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool for Personal Protective Equipment Use is included in this guide.  This tool provides a step-by-step approach to completing a PPE hazard assessment and completing required training at the laboratory level.

Skin Protection

In addition to personal protective equipment, lab workers should plan to keep skin covered when working at the bench with hazardous materials.  Skin coverage includes use of lab coats, long pants or skirts covering the legs, and closed-toe and closed-heel shoes to cover the feet.

Reusable protective clothing such as lab coats should be laundered on a regular basis to maintain hygiene. Laundering should be completed whenever the lab coat is visibly soiled. The frequency and manner in which lab coats are used, determine how often they should be laundered. Laundering of reusable protective clothing shall be performed by The University of Iowa Laundry Service; laundering may not be done by lab staff members at private residences or public laundry facilities.

Any lab coat/protective clothing known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with biohazardous material(s) must be decontaminated (i.e. autoclaved or treated with an effective disinfectant) before it is sent to laundry services. If protective clothing will be autoclaved, it must be capable of withstanding high temperatures.  Do not autoclave lab coats that are additionally contaminated with chemical or radioactive materials; dispose of the contaminated clothing as hazardous waste. Additionally, lab coats that become grossly contaminated with biohazardous material(s) should be disposed of as biohazardous waste.

Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection shall be required where there is a reasonable probability that injury could be prevented by such protection. PPE shall be selected in accordance with IOSH 1910.133 "Eye and Face Protection" and shall meet requirements specified in American National Standards Institute, Z87.1, "Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection". Eye and face protection can be purchased from laboratory and safety catalogs and University Stores. Prescription safety glasses are purchased through UI Optical with an interdepartmental requisition. Eye examinations and associated costs are the responsibility of the employee.

Note: Protective equipment related to lasers, X-rays, gamma rays, and microwaves, etc. are not covered by the Z87.1 standard. Departments or the user should contact the manufacturer and EHS’s Radiation Protection Section (335-8501) for proper selection.

General eyewear requirements

  1. Safety glasses with permanently attached side shields are required where there is a potential of being struck by projectile objects.
  2. Chemical splash goggles are required in chemical handling operations where protection is needed against mists, aerosols and sprays.
  3. Face shields are required where facial skin protection is needed for chemical or physical agents. Where both eye and face protection is needed, the face shield is used in addition to the safety glasses or goggles.

Hand Protection

Skin contact is a potential source of exposure to toxic materials. Check the Safety Data Sheet for substances that can create exposure routes by skin absorption. Appropriate gloves may be selected based on the requirements listed on the next page and can be purchased from laboratory and safety supply catalogs.

General glove requirements:

  1. Gloves should be worn whenever there is potential for contact with corrosive or toxic materials, or materials of unknown toxicity.
  2. Gloves should be selected based on test data from the glove manufacturer.
  3. Chemicals eventually permeate gloves; however, they can be used safely for limited time periods if specific use and glove characteristics, i.e., thickness, permeation rate and time, are known.
  4. Gloves should be replaced periodically depending on frequency of use and permeability to the substance(s) handled.


  1. PPE-Glove Selection Information
  2. https://ehs.research.uiowa.edu/ppe-research-laboratory-hazard-assessment-tool