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3.1 Laboratory Responsibilities for Personal Protective Equipment

Laboratory personnel need to conduct hazard assessments of specific operations occurring in their laboratories to determine what PPE is necessary to safely carry out the operations. PPE must be made available to laboratory workers to reduce exposures to hazardous chemicals in the lab. Proper PPE includes items such as gloves, eye protection, lab coats, face shields, aprons, boots, hearing protection, etc. PPE must be readily available and most equipment is provided at no cost to the employee.  

When deciding on the appropriate PPE to wear when performing any operations or experiments, a number of factors must be taken into consideration such as:  

  • The chemicals being used, including concentration and quantity.
  • The hazards the chemicals pose.
  • The routes of exposure for the chemicals.
  • The material the PPE is constructed of.
  • The permeation and degradation rates specific chemicals will have on the material.
  • The length of time the PPE will be in contact with the chemicals.

Careful consideration should be given to the comfort and fit of PPE to ensure that it will be used by laboratory personnel. 

All personal protective equipment and clothing must be maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition. Only those items that meet NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) or ANSI standards should be purchased or accepted for use. 

There are a number of safety equipment suppliers who sell a wide variety of personal protective equipment. Be sure to check with the Purchasing department first to find out which supplier is the Cornell preferred vendor to take advantage of discounted pricing. If you have questions about what PPE is most appropriate for your applications, then contact EHS at askEH@cornell.edu.

Please Note: Principal Investigators, laboratory supervisors, departments and colleges are free to set policies that establish minimum PPE requirements for personnel working in and entering their laboratories. Check with your DSR to see if there are any department or college specific requirements for PPE.