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Information to enhance your success at UNL | UNL Office of Research | November 2013

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Proper attire, equipment critical for laboratory safety

A key to laboratory safety is wearing the right attire and appropriate personal protective equipment. Here are some recommendations on what to wear in the laboratory. Additional information is available on the EHS website or the EHS web-based training module on PPE.

Standard lab attire

  • Work shirt that covers the upper torso and arms.
  • Lower body clothing that covers the entire leg to the ankle (e.g., pants, skirt, coveralls, lab coat) and fully protects exposed skin.column break
  • 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.

Standard personal protective equipment

Lab coat:

  • Long-sleeved laboratory coat with ribbed cuffs, or gown or coveralls, made from flame-retardant material.
  • Chemical-resistant apron and sleeves for handling corrosives and chemicals that are toxic when absorbed through the skin.

Eye protection:

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


  • Examination gloves are appropriate for routine lab activities.
  • To avoid contact with toxic chemicals, use gloves made specifically to resist hazards or chemicals.

Hearing protection:

  • If you can’t easily communicate with another person at a 3-foot distance, noise may exceed safe levels. Consult EHS for a noise exposure evaluation and recommendations for hearing protection.


  • Consult EHS if you intend to use a respirator, even if it is only a filtering mask. Respirator use must meet certain conditions, and EHS personnel can ensure that you use the proper respirator for the type of work you plan to do.

For more information contact Brenda Osthus, environmental health and safety director, (402) 472-4927.

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