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Protective Clothing

When the possibility of chemical contamination exists, protective clothing that resists physical and chemical hazards should be worn over street clothes. Lab coats are appropriate for minor chemical splashes and solids contamination, while plastic or rubber aprons are best for protection from corrosive or irritating liquids. Disposable outer garments (i.e., Tyvek suits) may be useful when cleaning and decontamination of reusable clothing is difficult. Loose clothing (such as overlarge lab coats or ties), skimpy clothing (such as shorts), torn clothing and unrestrained hair may pose a hazard in the laboratory.


Closed-toed shoes should be worn at all times in buildings where chemicals are stored or used. Perforated shoes, sandals or cloth sneakers should not be worn in laboratories or where mechanical work is conducted. Such shoes offer no barrier between the laboratory worker and chemicals or broken glass. Chemical resistant overshoes or boots may be used to avoid possible exposure to corrosive chemical or large quantities of solvents or water that might penetrate normal footwear (e.g., during spill cleanup). Leather shoes tend to absorb chemicals and may have to be discarded if contaminated with a hazardous material. Although generally not required in most laboratories, steel-toed safety shoes may be necessary when there is a risk of heavy objects falling or rolling onto the feet, such as in bottle-washing operations or animal care facilities.

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