Laboratory Attire and PPE

As a minimum, personnel working in labs must wear closed toed shoes. When working with hazardous materials, personnel must wear lab coats. Perform a Hazardous Analysis to determine the full suite of attire and PPE required based on the hazard. The following should be considered:

Standard lab attire:

  • Work shirt that covers the upper torso and arms.
  • Lower body clothing that covers the entire leg to ankle (e.g., pants, skirt, coveralls, lab coat) and fully protects exposed skin.
  • Closed-toe shoes that cover the top of the foot and are made of leather or synthetic leather or another material that resists rapid penetration by spilled liquids or sharps.
  • In laboratories where a fire danger is present, avoid clothing made of synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, polypropylene or acrylic, which can melt if ignited. Wear less flammable natural fibers, such as wool, cotton, jute, flax and silk.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing and tie back long hair, as they can be caught in rotating lab equipment such as centifuges and lathes.
  • Avoid jewelry that could be damaged, trap chemicals close to the skin, come in contact with electrical sources or get caught in rotating lab equipment.

Standard personal protective equipment:

Lab coat:

  • Lab coats or equivalent protective clothing is required for work with hazardous chemicals, unsealed radioactive materials, and biological agents at BL2 or greater.
  • Lab coats should be fully buttoned with sleeves rolled down.  It is much faster and easier to remove a lab coat than street clothes, which will minimize skin contact with hazardous materials. 
  • Don't wear lab coats in public areas, such as offices, cafeterias, lunch rooms, lounge areas, or elsewhere outside the laboratory, as they can transfer hazardous materials to these areas.
  • Don't bring lab coats home because you may contaminate others in the household. They must be commercially cleaned.

Eye protection:

  • Safety spectacles with side shields
  • Goggles for handling chemicals that can cause eye damage.
  • Supplement goggles with face shield when risk of injury is great.


  • Nitrile gloves protect against most chemicals and infectious agents.
  • Rubber gloves protect against mild corrosive material.
  • Neoprene gloves protect against most solvents, oils, and mild corrosive materials.
  • Avoid latex gloves as many are allergenic or potentially allergenic.
  • Don't wear gloves when touching common surfaces, such as telephones, computers, door knobs, and elevator buttons that may be touched without gloves.
  • Don't wear gloves outside the lab when transporting hazardous materials between labs; use secondary containers that can be carried without gloves. (Bring gloves and spill materials in case of accident.)

            For glove selection guidance see:


  • Consult Environmental Health and Safety if you intend to use a respirator, even if it is only a filtering mask. A medical evaluation and fit test is required prior to respirator use.


  • Closed-toed shoes must be worn at all times in laboratories. Perforated shoes, sandals and flip-flops are not permitted as such shoes offer no barrier between the laboratory worker and hazardous materials 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.