Hazard Assessment: and the Selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The following guideline is intended to provide assistance to UF Principal Investigators and their laboratory managers in performing hazard assessments of their labs and the selection of appropriate PPE. This guideline is based on OSHA’s 1910 Subpart I App B, Non-mandatory Compliance Guidelines for Hazard Assessment and Personal Protective Equipment Selection.

Controlling hazards

PPE devices alone should not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but should be used in conjunction with guards, engineering controls, and sound laboratory practices.

Assessment guidelines

To assess the need for PPE the following steps should be taken.

Survey

Consider each task/experiment performed in the laboratory. Will lab personnel encounter any of the following basic hazard categories while performing their tasks?

    • Chemical
    • Biological
    • Radioactivity
    • Extreme temperatures
    • Harmful dust
    • Light (optical) radiation
    • High noise
    • Penetration
    • Impact

Sources

Will personnel be working with, or nearby any of the following potential sources of hazards while performing their tasks?

    • Sources of motion; i.e., equipment or processes where any movement of tools, machine elements or particles could exist, or movement of personnel that could result in collision with stationary objects or one another
    • Sources of extreme temperatures that could result in burns, eye injury or ignition of protective equipment, etc.
    • Sources of chemical exposures
    • Sources of harmful dust
    • Sources of light radiation
    • Sources of falling objects or potential for dropping objects
    • Sources of sharp objects which might pierce the feet or cut the hands
    • Sny electrical hazards
    • Lay out of laboratory space and equipment

In addition, past injury/accident data, if available, should be reviewed to help identify problem areas.

Organize/Analyze Findings

Once the information is gathered, it will be necessary to organize it so that an estimate of the potential for injuries can be made. Each of the basic hazards should be reviewed and a determination made as to the type, level of risk and seriousness of potential injury from each of the hazards. The possibility of exposure to several hazards simultaneously should be considered.

Selection

After completion of the assessment, it is time to select the appropriate protective equipment. The most common types of PPE used in labs are safety glasses, goggles, various types of gloves, lab coats, aprons, face shields, comfort masks, and surgical masks. These can obtained from most major laboratory equipment suppliers. Solid toed shoes with good sole grips should always be worn in labs.

Respirators are not normally required in the lab if it is well ventilated and the chemical fume hood is in proper working condition. Air quality monitoring can be performed by an EH&S Industrial Hygienist (392-1591) to determine if respirators are needed. Please note that respirator wearers must participate in the UF Respiratory Protection Program.

An outline for selection of PPE is as follows.

  • Become familiar with the type of protective equipment that is available
  • Compare the hazards associated with lab procedures with the capabilities of the available protective equipment
  • Select the protective equipment which ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards
  • Fit the user with the protective device and give instructions on care and use of the PPE.
    Lab personnel must be aware that the equipment does not eliminate the hazard.
    It is very important that end users be made aware of all warning labels for and limitations of their PPE.

Fitting

Careful consideration must be given to comfort and fit. PPE that fits poorly will not afford the necessary protection. Also, PPE is more likely to be worn if the device fits the wearer comfortably. Protective devices are generally available in a variety of sizes. Care should be taken to ensure that the right size is selected.

Devices with Adjustable Features

Adjustments should be made on an individual basis for a comfortable fit that will maintain the protective device in the proper position. Particular care should be taken in fitting devices for eye protection against dust and chemical splash to ensure that the devices are sealed to the face. Where manufacturer’s instructions are available, they should be followed carefully.

Cleaning and Maintenance

It is important that all PPE be kept clean and properly maintained. Cleaning is particularly important for eye and face protection where dirty or fogged lenses could impair vision. PPE should be inspected, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals.

Reassessment of Hazards

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to reassess the workplace hazard situation as necessary, by identifying and evaluating new equipment and processes, reviewing accident records, and reevaluating the suitability of previously selected PPE.