3.5 Protective Clothing
Protective clothing includes lab coats or other protective garments such as aprons, boots, shoe covers, Tyvek coveralls, and other items, that can be used to protect street clothing from biological or chemical contamination and splashes as well as providing additional body protection from some physical hazards.
EHS requires that Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors prohibit the wearing of shorts and leg-baring skirts in laboratories using hazardous materials (chemical, biological, and radiological) by laboratory personnel and visitors, working in or entering laboratories under their supervision.
The following characteristics should be taken into account when choosing protective clothing:
- The specific hazard(s) and the degree of protection required, including the potential exposure to chemicals, radiation, biological materials, and physical hazards such as heat or open flame.
- The type of material the clothing is made of and its resistance to the specific hazard(s) that will be encountered.
- The comfort of the protective clothing, which impacts the acceptance and ease of use by laboratory personnel.
- Proper fit of the protective clothing to ensure appropriate coverage to the person without being too large to create potential hazards associated with loose clothing.
- Whether the clothing is disposable or reusable - which impacts cost, maintenance, and cleaning requirements.
- How quickly the clothing can be removed during an emergency. It is recommended that lab coats use snaps or other easy to remove fasteners instead of buttons.
- Laboratory personnel who are planning experiments that may require special protective clothing or have questions regarding the best protective clothing to choose for their experiment(s) should contact EHS at askEHS@cornell.edu for recommendations.