Personal Protective Lab Equipment Policy

Policy Approval Authority President
Responsible Division Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships
Responsible University Office Research Compliance, Integrity, and Safety
Responsible Officer(s) Lab Safety Manager
Contact Person Shannon Stoker,
Primary Audience Faculty
Date Submitted to Policy Library 04-01-2020
Status Active
Adoption Date 04-01-2020
Policy Category/Categories Governance / Administration
Research Ethics / Intellectual Property


Protecting laboratory workers from exposure to biological, chemical, and or physical laboratory hazards is integral in laboratory safety.  Each department that works with chemicals in teaching or research at Northern Illinois University (University) must take steps to safeguard students, faculty and staff from exposure to hazardous materials.  A primary step lab workers must take requires the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The use of PPE is required under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910 and is a prudent laboratory practice. 


This policy require individuals to utilize PPE in technical areas, research and instructional laboratory environments.  Departments must provide appropriate PPE and training to their students and staff and ensure its use.   


Failure or refusal to wear required PPE is a basis for discipline, in accordance with University procedures. Any employee observed not wearing required PPE in a laboratory will be asked to leave the laboratory and the laboratory will be closed until compliance with this policy is ensured.


Failure or refusal to wear required PPE is a basis for discipline, in accordance with the University Student Code of Conduct.  A student not wearing required PPE in a laboratory/technical area may not participate in lab activities until such PPE is worn.

This policy sets the minimum requirements for University laboratories.  Individual laboratories may develop policies and procedures which meet or exceed this policy standard. Departments must make these policies available.   

Program Requirements

Hazard Assessment

Laboratory supervisors shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards (danger or threat) are present, or are likely to be present, that necessitate the use of PPE.  The hazard assessment must evaluate both the hazards to the individuals performing the work and the hazards to individuals who occupy the room or space where the work is being performed.

Each laboratory supervisor shall certify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies:

  1. The workplace evaluated.
  2. The person performing the assessment
  3. The date of the hazard assessment.

Hazard assessments that indicate less than the minimum PPE for a laboratory area require the review and approval of the Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety (ORCIS).  A hazard assessment must be performed annually or when significant changes to the laboratory’s activities occur.

The recommended hazard assessment form can be found here.

Minimum Attire and Personal Protective Equipment Requirements for Laboratories
PPE must be maintained to manufacturer’s specifications. Departments are responsible for
monitoring these recommendations. Individuals are required to notify their supervisor if their PPE
is damaged, becomes faulty, contaminated or any other situation that render them ineffective.
The following minimum attire and PPE requirements pertain to all laboratories that use or store
hazardous materials or where a physical hazard exists.

Personal Laboratory Attire
a. Full length pants (or equivalent) and closed-toe/heel shoes must be worn at all times by all
individuals who are occupying or entering a laboratory/technical area.

b. Hair below shoulder length should be tied back.

Required PPE
Laboratory coats (or equivalent protective garments) and protective eyewear are required to
be worn by all workers.

Laboratory Coats
a. Laboratory coats must be appropriately sized for the individual. Coats must be buttoned or
snapped to their full length. Laboratory coat sleeves must be of a sufficient length to prevent
direct skin exposure while wearing gloves.

b. Flame Resistant (FR-rated) laboratory coats must be worn when working with pyrophoric
materials. FR-rated lab coats are also required when working with flammable liquids in
laboratories using open flames or other potential ignition sources, or as determined by the hazard

c. Laboratory coats must be laundered at departmental laundry facilities. Any protective
clothing that becomes contaminated with hazardous materials must be decontaminated prior to being
laundered or appropriately discarded. Departments without laundry facilities should make
arrangements with a department which has laundry facilities.

d. Laboratory coats must remain in the laboratory when not in use.

Protective Eyewear
Eyewear must be used at all time and meet the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) Z87.1 standard. The eyewear must be appropriate for the work being done. Prescription
eyewear is not suitable eye protection unless certified as ANSI compliant.

Protective Gloves
Protective gloves must be worn while using any hazardous materials, hot or cold liquids (including
cryogenics), items having physical hazards, or equipment that may cause hand injury. The gloves
must be appropriate for the material or process being used and must not interfere with the ability
of the individual to work safely. The manufacturer-specific glove selection guide should be
referenced to determine appropriate glove type. Gloves should remain in the confines of the
laboratory and be properly disposed.

Other PPE
Some operations and procedures may require additional PPE, as indicated by the hazard assessment or
standard operating procedure, departmental policies or regulatory requirements. Additional PPE
might include face shields, aprons, respiratory protection, or hearing protection.

a. PPE is not required for laboratories which have been designated and posted as free of hazards
during normal activities (e.g. electron microscope rooms, computer rooms, precision measurement
rooms). These exceptions require written approval from ORCIS. ORCIS has the final authority for
making this determination and establishment of a level of personal protective equipment below the
minimum specified requirements.

b. Protective eyewear may be removed when using microscopes or similar instruments, requiring close contact between the eyes and the eyepieces.


• Applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards as adopted by the Illinois Department of Labor 29 CFR 1910.132-140

• Prudent Practices in the Laboratory, National Research Council



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