- Lab Coat
Lab coats are not required outside of CHP environments. Many facilities are HCP-designated spaces; some allow researchers to wear labcoats,
but others may not—be sure to check the policy of individual workspaces before bringing your lab coat inside. Lab coats should not be worn in break rooms or areas meant for office work.
The best policy is to keep lab coats on hooks close to the entrance of CHP-designated spaces.
According to the CHP manual, lab coats are required in CHP-designated spaces,
whenever chemistry is in action.
The main purpose of a lab coat is reduce harm to your body (and clothing)—not only during the active handling of chemical hazards,
but also as protection against spills, explosions, and other unexpected events that can occur inside the lab.
There are two types of lab coats for chemistry research: the standard (white) coat that is compatible with standard lab activities,
and the fire-resistant (blue) coat that should be worn in the presence of pyrophoric or highly combustible materials.
Both are intended as an added layer of protection over your regular clothing; you are still required to wear shirts that cover your neck,
full-length pants down to your ankles, and closed-toe shoes (see #10).
- Putting on lab coats is intuitive.
Buttoning lab coats is recommended while actively working; risks of open lab coats include
getting caught on door handles or drawers, not to mention less protection against spills.
Removing a lab coat requires no special precaution unless it is contaminated with a significant amount of a hazardous
(and non-volatile) chemical. In case of a serious exposure requiring an emergency shower, it may be better to remove the lab coat after stepping into the safety shower.
Always be mindful of the location of the nearest safety shower, and to keep the path between it and your work station completely clear of trip/slip hazards.
- Lab coats can prevent small splashes from contacting your skin
and/or contaminating your street clothes, and this is quite important, but they do not do
much more. Do not continue to wear a lab coat if there is a reasonable chance that
chemical contamination from it will reach your clothes or your skin. Do not use a
coat not made lab chemical use, nor a homemade lab coat unless you are certain the fabric
is suitable for your work (some synthetic fabrics are extremely vulnerable to particular
chemicals and could actually harm your skin in the event that the wrong chemical was
splashed on them). Many synthetic fabrics will burn and melt somewhat easily and
should not be worn in areas where open flames or other cources of fire might present the
potential of igniting the coat.
- No protective equipment that has been contaminated with
hazardous materials should be taken home, including lab coats. A rental and laundering service is available for standard lab coats through the Chem Shop; fire-resistant
lab coats are also available upon request through the lab coat manager (max 1 per researcher, order may take several weeks). Lab coats can be exchanged on a monthly basis,
but those that are heavily soiled should be disposed of as hazardous waste. Please keep in mind that individuals are responsible for checked-out labcoats, and labs will be
charged a fee if not returned or irreparably soiled. In the absence of regular cleaning, the useful life of a lab coat (worn daily) is one year or less, depending on the types of chemistry to which it is exposed.
See "when is a waste a hazardous
waste.") Unlaundered lab coats that become contaminated with biologically hazardous materials should be disposed of as biowaste.