Personal protection equipment (EPI)

The resource person


The AP knows your laboratory activities and knows when and which EPI is indispensible.


General rules

Priority is given to collective protection equipment. Nevertheless, the employer is legally bound to provide the most appropriate EPI (after a risk evaluation), as well as to maintain or replace them. Employees must be informed about EPI and trained about their proper use.


Assorted personal protection equipment  


EPI have to be used when manipulating but choices must sometimes be made. For example, a lab coat is taken off before going out for lunch or taking a coffee, gloves are removed to answer the phone or open a door.


Lab coat
It must be worn for all laboratory activities. A different coat will be used when working in some particular rooms (for instance level 2 containment laboratories, animal housing facilities).
It is made only of cotton or of a non-woven non-synthetic fabric.
It is buttoned up and has long-sleeves to protect forearms.
It is supplied by the laboratory which also provides washing and maintenance.  


Even if real safety shoes are rarely needed in a laboratory, closed footwear is highly recommended (risk of projections/ or splashes, more dangerous if wearing sandals).
Specific shoes with overshoes will be worn in some conditions (level 2 or 3 biosafety laboratories, animal houses).


There are no universal gloves and their resistance is limited in time.
Thus gloves must be chosen according to the products manipulated and  the instructions for their use must be respected.
So-called “barrier” creams are not considered as EPI.
Check out for defects before slipping them on.


When taking them off, avoid touching the outer part of the gloves, and then wash  hands.


Choosing gloves

Biological risk : latex gloves are efficient (suitable) (NF EN  374  norm). Nitrile gloves may be used. 

Chemical risk : You have the choice between thin single-use gloves and thicker reusable gloves. Check out compatibility between chemicals and gloves. Examples of glove material: nitrile, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PVA (poly vinyl alcohol), PE (polyethylene), multilayer materials. 

Protection against low temperature : When working with liquid nitrogen or deep freezers, cryogenic gloves are the only proper protection. Tighten gloves to coat sleeves, so liquid nitrogen cannot penetrate.


Protection glasses
They must be worn as soon as there is a projection or aerosol risk.
Prescription glasses are not protection glasses. Lenses are not recommended (additional risks).
Appropriate filtrating glasses or eyeshades will be used against UV light and laser beams.
Glasses with wrap around frames will be needed for in case of chemical risk.

Face shields
They must be worn as soon as there is a risk of explosion, implosion or liquid nitrogen projection.
Their advantage is that they protect all the face and the neck; it is also possible to wear prescription glasses under them.


Respiratory protection devices
Surgical masks are not EPI.
Filtering or isolating respiratory protection devices prevent risks linked to the inhalation of polluting substances. Storage instructions and maximum utilization time must be respected.

Single use half-mask respirator                       Half-mask respirator with cartridge

To be effective, the mask must be well fitted and adapted to the polluting substance used (gas, vapours, aerosols). There are three levels of effectiveness; your AP will tell you which one is to be used.


Ear protection
When the noise level is high or when sonicating, you need to wear ear protection adapted to the specific frequencies used.



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Dernières Actualités

05 FEVRIER 2012 : Ouverture des inscriptions aux 29èmes journée de l'ADHYS "Santé au travail : Comment prendre en compte les risques psychosociaux" les 29 et 30 mars 2012 à l'université de Lorraine (Metz).

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