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Three Key Protective Materials For Laboratory Workers

Potentially dangerous substances, including manufactured nanoparticles

, are a serious concern for those involved with laboratory work. Accidental spills, airborne chemicals or pathogens are other factors that may not only hinder a person's ability to continue work, but also cause major personal harm. To prevent such injuries, certain protective items are often required in labs. Three key protective materials include safety goggles, lab coats and gloves/shoes.

Safety Goggles

One of the most important parts of the body to protect is a worker's eye. Items like safety glasses with side shields, face shields, splash goggles or other safety eyewear offer a measure of eye protection for workers, defending against whatever threatening materials could harm their sight.

Lab Coats

Made with full-length sleeves and designed to cover the knees, lab coats cover most of a worker's body, thereby minimizing exposure to contamination, spills and saturation of regular clothes or the skin. If some harmful exposure does occur, lab coats make it easy to isolate the damage, as they are easily removed. Additionally, lab coats can be made of flame-resistant fabric to address environments with fire potential.

Lab coats can be reusable or disposable. In cases where there is either a very high risk of contamination or minimal laundry services available, workers should wear disposable lab coats. In fact, in settings involving infectious or toxigenic agents, disposable lab coats are a requirement. After use, these protective items may be thrown away as hazardous waste, containing the damage and protecting workers from further exposure.

Gloves and Shoes

Gloves protect hands, with specific types of gloves designed to address particular types of chemicals or work. Lab workers should always store gloves away from fume hoods and equipment that could lead to contamination, as well as wash their hands and arms thoroughly after use. Additionally, it's a good idea to change gloves often in order to minimize the threat of damage.

In labs, closed-toe shoes made from a low-permeability material are an excellent protective measure, guarding the feet and toes from falling materials, toxic spills or other threats. Furthermore, rubber soles can prevent against slips and falls.

Whatever type of lab in which a person works, protective clothing can make all the difference in minimizing injury and guarding against personal harm. Through key protection materials like safety goggles, disposable lab coats and closed-toe shoes, workers have a defense against threatening substances and airborne particles in the lab.

by:Mike Miller
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