Risk Management & Safety

Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used any time you work with hazardous materials in the laboratory. Many different products are available designed for many different uses. Some safety tips on Personal Protective Equipment:


Appropriate gloves should be selected based on the hazard and protocol being performed. Gloves are designed to protect hands from injuries and exposures. Gloves should always be tested for punctures and tears prior to use. Some common examples with basic information about each type include:

  • Butyl – high resistance to gas or water vapors, also resistant to many acids and alcohols
  • Cotton/canvas gloves – good for general hand protection against abrasion, not helpful for work with hazardous substances.
  • Insulated gloves – good for work with hot/cold substances. These gloves are generally rated based on temperature.
  • Latex – provide splash protection from most solutions of acids, alkalis, salts and ketones. Provide some protection against bacteria and viruses. Many laboratory workers have developed allergies to latex gloves. This may be prevented by using powder-free gloves or nitrile gloves whenever possible.
  • Natural rubber – provide splash protection against acids, caustics and dyes.
  • Neoprene – prove splash protection against alcohols, acids & alkalis. They are pliable and have a high density, tensile strength and are tear resistant.
  • Nitrile – provide splash protection against a variety of chemicals. Also provide good dexterity.
  • Vinyl – provide resistance to a variety of irritants.

Further evaluation should be performed based on exact chemicals being used.

Eye & Face Protection

A variety of products are designed to protect the eyes and face from splashes, sprays or exposures. Safety glasses with side shields at a minimum should be worn at all times in the laboratory. Each laboratory worker should find a type that is ANSI approved that they are comfortable in. Additional pairs of safety glasses should be made available for visitors. Work with corrosives, UV light, infectious materials or other laboratory hazards may require additional eye and face protection. This additional protection may include:

  • Laboratory goggles
  • Face shields
  • Face mask/eye-shield combos
  • UV glasses/face shields

A determination of eye/face protection needs should be made at the time of experiment design. Always protect your eyes & face.

Respiratory Protection

UNLV has a comprehensive respiratory protection program for anyone wishing to use a respirator. You should contact 895-4226 for enrollment in the program. Do not use a respirator without being enrolled in the program. Dust masks and medical masks may be used for irritant control & protection from splashes.

Other PPE

Depending on the application, additional PPE may be necessary. This could include aprons, heavy/long gloves, protective suits, protective footwear and other items. For assistance with evaluation of PPE and determination of needs please contact 895-4226.

This document was last modified on August 25, 2010.