Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense against laboratory hazards. PPE should be considered only after Engineering and Administrative Controls have been examined.  In order for PPE to protect the user, it must be stored, maintained, and worn properly.  Since PPE can fail, those who wear it should be trained to understand its limitations.  

PPE does not eliminate the hazard.  The need for PPE is dependent upon the type of operations and the nature and quantity of the materials in use while performing a specific procedure. For example, there is not one type of glove that can protect against all contact hazards. 

A risk assessment should be conducted before appropriate PPE is chosen. If help is needed in completing a risk assessment contact Safety staff.

One tool available to help with PPE choices for chemical use is the Chemical Use and Planning Form

Basic PPE Requirements

  • Laboratory Supervisors are responsible for determining the appropriate PPE for each lab activity. Closed-toed shoes are required in every lab; lab coats and safety glasses may be required based on a risk assessment. Visitors may also be required to follow these practices when entering a UVM lab.
  • Gloves are required when working with substances that are potentially hazardous, i.e. biological agents, chemicals, radioactive materials, etc
  • When working with open flames or moving parts, tie back long hair, remove dangly jewelry, and do not wear loose clothing.
  • Additional PPE may be required based on the hazards.


*No PPE is to be worn in common areas. Make sure to remove all PPE before traveling from a lab into a common area.*

Types of PPE:

Eye and Face Protection
Hand Protection
Head Protection
Hearing Protection
Skin Protection/Proper Clothing

PPE Limitations

All personal protective equipment has limitations. This is why PPE is referred to as the last line of defense and why administrative and engineering controls are utilized before determining PPE use.

PPE limitations:

  • Specific hazards require specific PPE selection.  No one material protects against every hazard.
  • May restrict movement or dexterity.
  • May restrict field of vision.
  • Communication may be more difficult.
  • Misunderstood or misused PPE may provide a false sense of security.
  • Must be maintained properly to be effective.
  • When contaminated, PPE must be changed.
  • May cause user to overheat.


Safety personnel can assist in determining appropriate PPE.


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