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Personal Protective Equipment

safety logoGloves, aprons/labcoats, & safety glasses.
Design your experiment to be as safe as possible.
If you can't do something safely then don't do it!


Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] is anything that you use personally that helps keep you safe. Provides protection from exposures to hazardous conditions.
Collective Protective Equipment is something normally associated with the facility itself, such as fire extinguishers, safety shower & eyewashes. Also important, but not personal.

PPE is never a substitute for good engineering or good work practices:

The hierarchy starts with the controls perceived to be most effective and moves down to those considered least effective.

  Elimination – Physically remove the hazard
  Substitution – Replace the hazard
  Engineering controls – Isolate people from the hazard
  Administrative controls – Change the way people work
  Personal protective equipment– Protect the worker with PPE

You can’t eliminate every hazard, but the closer you can get to the top, the closer you can reach that ideal and make people healthier and safer.

See also: general_hazard_assessment_tool.pdf and the lab_hazard_assessment_tool.pdf. These forms are maintained by your lab/area safety officer and they should go over them as part of your in-lab orientation.


Think about what your life would be like without eyesight. Everything about your life would change in an instant. Splashing chemicals, metal or wood chips, sharp objects, etc. It is a wonder that everyone does not wear eye protection all the time.   Even if you wear contacts, you should wear safety glasses or goggles.



Hands are the primary way we interact with our world and the most abused. Also, what ends up on our hands often is transfered to our food and then in our mouth. Gloves are the principle means of protecting your hands, but not all gloves work for all substances. See the glove chart to choose the right glove for the task you want to perform. Match the glove to the hazard. Always inspect gloves before use. Even brand new gloves can have tears, holes or rips in them.




Often forgotten until they are injured. NEVER WEAR OPEN SHOES OR SANDALS OR GO BAREFOOT in a lab or shop environment. In construction areas and most shops you should wear steel toed shoes or boots. In the lab, as least closed shoes. A phenol or other corrosive material spill can scar you for life and really hurt.




You can survive without eyes, hands, or feet. Not without your head. Of course losing you head is only one factor and unlikely, but something heavy falling on your head during an earthquake is much more likely. In construction zones hard hats are REQUIRED. No exceptions. Construction zones by their very nature are not complete and anything can happen. Head injuries can span from annoying to deadly. Be careful!



Maybe not as bad as losing your sight, but most people would be put out without being able to hear the world around them. The problem is, is hearing loss is unlikey to occur all at once. Hearing loss sneaks up on you. And depending on exposure it might not be all sounds, but specific frequencies of sound. All of our shop areas have hearing protection available. Sonicators need hearing protection as well. Ear muffs are great for temporary exposure. Use ear plugs for exposures longer than ten minutes. Of course what you do in your free time can have an effect as well. Ear plugs are a worthwhile personal investment. We do have a noise meter if needed.



Yeah. Important. If it is dangerous and/or you can smell it, better to do the experiment in a fume hood (or outside for painting tasks). Look up ALL of the materials in the safety database BEFORE you begin. Respirators, though appearing attractive, can mislead you into a false sense of safety. You cannot use a respirator at Stanford without special training only offered on main campus. You cannot use a respirator you purchased at a hardware store or safety catalog.

A particle mask is NOT a respirator. Sawdust is a known carcinogen. You should always wear a partical mask and use a vacuum on the saw/sander/etc. when working with wood. A particle mask will not protect you from very fine particulates, asbestos, acrylamide, etc.


cartoon person sleepingSLEEP

Being sleep deprived is equivalent to being drunk. Really. 10% of all fatal car accidents are due to sleepiness. Though not strictly PPE, your bed is important.

Would you do a radioactive experiment drunk? Why risk your future on an experiment not done correctly because you should be in bed instead.