Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Personal Protective Equipment for Working with Biohazards

Minimum Requirements

While working with biohazardous materials in this laboratory, personnel must tie back long hair and wear:

  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Street clothing that fully cover the legs
  • Disposable or cloth lab coat
  • Disposable gloves of appropriate type for work being done
  • If determined by risk assessment, the following may be required:
    • Eye and face protection (e.g., goggles/safety glasses, face shield or other splatter guard),
    • Hair covers
    • Disposable sleeves
    • Shoe covers
    • Respirators
      NOTE: Use of respirators requires enrollment in the Respiratory Protection Program.

Use, Decontamination and Disposal

  • Gloves
    • Consider all the hazards your gloved hands may contact during your work session: chemical, biological, radiological, sharps, animals, cryogenic items, heat, and combinations of these.
    • Do not use gloves with talc powder; these are no longer commercially available but may be encountered in previously purchased stock. The talc used with disposable gloves has been shown to be extremely hazardous to people who react allergically to it.
    • Consult a glove permeation/degradation chart for your preferred vendor (many are online) and select gloves made from material which has the longest breakthrough time for the hazards you will contact, or are specifically engineered to withstand the hazards you may encounter.
    • Never use regular disposable gloves for heat or cold protection; use insulated gloves.
    • When autoclaving, make sure your insulated gloves are not wet; wet gloves transfer heat and will not protect your hands.
    • Be sure your gloves fit well for maximum safety—always use the right size of glove.
    • Gloves must be changed when contaminated, when integrity has been compromised, or when otherwise necessary.
    • Disposable gloves must not be washed or reused.
    • Be aware that frequent spraying of gloved hands with a disinfectant can increase permeability to biohazards and chemicals with some glove materials.
    • Contaminated disposable gloves must NOT be disposed of in regular trash that housekeepers empty. They must be discarded into lab solid waste containers.
    • Glove Removal Video
    • Glove Removal Written Instructions:
      • Pinch one glove at wrist level and peel it off the hand without touching your skin, allowing the glove to turn inside out.
      • Holding the removed glove in the gloved hand, and slide fingers of ungloved hand between the glove and the top of the wrist. Remove the second glove by rolling it down the hand, and fold it into the first glove so that it is captured within, and the outer glove is inside out.
      • Holding an inside surface of the combined gloves with your bare hand, discard them into solid biological waste. Wash hands immediately.
  • Lab Coats
    • Lab coats must have closures fully fastened to protect from contamination; button your lab coat.
    • Ensure that there is no gap between the lab coat cuff and the glove cuff—no exposed skin. Use disposable sleeves if necessary. Tuck the cuff of the lab coat sleeve into glove cuff.
    • Disposable Lab Coats/ Gowns
      • Best suited for higher biosafety level work, especially back-closing gowns.
      • Normally discarded after a single use; dispose of in solid biological waste.
      • Limited re-use can be allowed, depending on agents/ procedures used, PI discretion, and if the coat/gown is intact, unsoiled and not contaminated.
    • Cloth Lab Coats
      • Best suited for BSL-1 and general bench work.
      • If coat is intact, unsoiled and not contaminated, it can be re-used for a period of time determined by the PI.
        • Cloth Lab Coat Decontamination And Laundering For Re-Use
          • BSL-2 cloth lab coats must be decontaminated by autoclaving or other approved method prior to laundering; decontamination by autoclaving is recommended for BSL-1 lab coats.
          • Collect soiled lab coats in a dedicated, labeled, lidded container with Biohazard label until they can be decontaminated; line the container with an autoclave bag prior to collection of lab coats.
          • Autoclave lab coats in a clear autoclave bag, or label an opaque bag well so contents will not be mistaken for biowaste.
          • Decontaminate lab coats using an autoclave Solid or pre-vac cycle using a short cycle time; use a Chemical Integrator (CI) for load verification.
          • It is strongly recommended that 1) decontaminated lab coats are laundered by a professional service, and 2) that individuals do not take them home to launder them after autoclaving.
  • Eye/ Face Protection
    • Persons who wear contact lenses in laboratories must also wear eye protection if their work is not confined to a BSC, chemical fume hood, or behind a bench shield that blocks potential splashes to face. Eye protection can be provided by tight fitting safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields.
    • Evaluate the splash/droplet potential for exposure to eyes, nose and lips; wear a face shield over safety glasses/goggles to be fully protected.
    • Protect eyes from UV radiation by using face shields, safety goggles, equipment eye shields, etc. that have the ANSI Z87.1 safety rating imprinted on the browband or earpiece.
    • Pull down the glass sash on the BSC when UV is on to protect eyes.
    • Nondisposable safety glasses, goggles, face shields, etc. must be decontaminated and cleaned after each use prior to storage.

Further Information and Guidance:

BMBL, 5th Ed.
University Biosafety Manual