Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Latex glove

Selection Guidelines for Laboratories

These guidelines for PPE selection in laboratories are meant to provide an added level of detail for Principal Investigators and Supervisors trying to determine which PPE would provide the most protection from the hazards present in their laboratories.  In addition to the guidelines below, Principal Investigators are invited to utilize EH&S as a resource in determining proper PPE for their laboratory.  Remember that PPE must be available in a range of sizes to fit all employees.

At a minimum, the following baseline PPE should be worn while working in a laboratory:

  • Buttoned lab coat
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Long pants
  • Safety glasses (when working at the bench)
  • Nitrile gloves (when working at the bench)

Beyond Lab Coat, closed-toed shoes, and long pants:

  • Aprons or fluid resistant clothing should be worn when splash hazards are present or when chemical absorbency through skin is a concern.
  • Wear disposable lab coat and/or Tyvek® jumpsuit when working in animal areas.  Animal Resources provides such disposable clothing outside entrances to animal areas. 
  • Wear disposable, impermeable lab coats or forearm covers when clothing contamination is a concern, such as when working with nanomaterials.

Beyond Safety glasses:

  • All safety glasses purchased and worn at WFSM should comply with ANSI Z87 – “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection.”
  • Splash-proof goggles and/or face shields may be required when involved in particularly hazardous operations like working with corrosives, extremely hot/cold liquids and gases, and other splash hazards. 
  • Face shields should only be worn over primary eye protections. 
  • Contact lenses may be worn in laboratories, but in the event of a chemical exposure, begin eye irrigation immediately and remove contact lenses as soon as practical. Do not delay irrigation while waiting for contact lens removal.
  • Instruct workers who wear contact lenses to remove the lenses at the first signs of eye redness or irritation.

Beyond Nitrile gloves:

  • Gloves must be appropriate for the laboratory activity. 
  • No glove is perfect and many glove types have specific chemical groups for which they offer little to no protection.  Therefore, most laboratories should be stocked with several types of gloves for specific tasks.  
  • Butyl, neoprene, and nitrile gloves are resistant to most chemicals. 
  • Disposable latex and vinyl gloves protect against some chemicals, most aqueous solutions and microorganisms. 
  • Temperature resistant gloves protect against cryogenic liquids, flames and high temperatures. 
  • Do not store gloves near direct sunlight.
  • Consider the toxic properties of the chemical.  Can the chemical cause local effects on the skin or pass through the skin and cause systemic effects?
  • Generally, any “chemical resistant” glove can be used for dry powders.
  • For liquids, a glove should be selected on the basis of the chemical component with the shortest breakthrough time, since it is possible for solvents to carry active ingredients through polymeric materials.  Manufacturer-specific glove selection guides offer breakthrough times and penetration rates for different glove types.  These guides are available via manufacturer websites.

Utilize the following Glove Selection Guide as an aid in determining which gloves types are best for your work area.


Glove Selection Guide

Glove Type/Material

Chemically Resistant To:

Not Recommended For:

Butyl Rubber

Organics, ketones, esters

Aliphatic, aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons, gasoline

Natural (latex) Rubber

Alcohols, acids, caustics, ketones

Aromatics, halogenated solvents


Organic acids, caustics, peroxides, alcohols, phenols, petroleum solvents

Aromatic and halogenated solvents

Nitrile Rubber

Solvents, oils, alcohols, some acids, and caustics

Ketones, oxidizing acids, nitrogen-containing organics

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)

Most solvents including aromatic and halogenated hydrocarbons

Water-based solutions, inorganic acids, alcohols, caustics

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Alcohols, acids, caustics

Aromatic and halogenated solvents, ketones

Silver Shield

Most substances

Tasks requiring good dexterity


Beyond Engineering Controls:

  • Certain processes in laboratories cannot be controlled with normal laboratory engineering controls (fume hood, glove box, biosafety cabinet).  In such cases, personnel shall wear respiratory protection.
  • Individuals needing respiratory protection must comply with all elements of the WFBMC Respiratory Protection Program and should contact EH&S for assistance. 


Last Updated: 10-30-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.