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Summer 2011

Proper Laboratory Attire

traingleIt is going to be a hot summer and we are beginning to see an influx of laboratory personnel wearing shorts and sandals in the laboratories. Adequate protective clothing must be worn whenever working in the laboratory. "Adequate" means, at a minimum, clothing that falls below the knees and shoes that fully cover the feet. These, of course, are in addition to other personal protective equipment such as a lab coat, gloves and appropriate safety eyewear.

Why are we even concerned with personnel present in laboratories improperly dressed? The first reason is common sense. Due to gravity, anything with mass will fall to the lowest point. Where is the lowest point of your body if you are standing upright? Your feet. Anything that falls from the counter will either hit or splash onto your feet and legs. If you are wearing shorts, short dresses or sandals then your exposed feet and legs will likely be contaminated.

The second reason is due to laboratory safety policies and regulations. Section 3.2.5 of the IUPUI Chemical Hygiene Plan states: Shorts, sandals, perforated shoes, cloth sneakers and bare feet are prohibited. The OSHA Laboratory Safety Standard states "Protective laboratory practices and equipment are available and in common use to minimize the potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals." Protective laboratory practices and equipment means those laboratory procedures, practices and equipment accepted by laboratory health and safety experts as effective or that the employer can show to be effective, in minimizing the potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals. Prudent Practices in the Laboratory - Handling and Disposing of Chemicals 1995 edition states: "Clothing that leaves large areas of skin exposed is inappropriate in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are used. The worker's personal clothing should be fully covering." Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories for Students 2004 edition states: "Clothing worn in the laboratory should offer protection from splashes and spills" and "In the laboratory, wear shoes with uppers made of leather or polymeric leather substitute. Do not go barefoot or wear sandals. Do not wear shoes that have high heels or open toes, uppers made of cloth, woven leather strips or other woven material. Shorts, cutoffs, and miniskirts unnecessarily exposure your skin to potential corrosives and are not safe."

Everyone, please enjoy the nice weather but leave the shorts and sandals for your activities outside of the laboratory. If you must wear open-toed shoes and/or shorts to campus, please keep a pair of pants and full coverage shoes to change into for when working in the laboratory.