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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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See PPE requirements and resources for UC San Diego employees.

Personal protective equipment controls hazards that cannot be eliminated through engineering and administrative controls*. PPE includes all clothing and accessories designed to protect against safety and health hazards.

At UC San Diego, an appropriate level of PPE must be worn at all times when hazardous material or equipment is used in a workplace.

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Requirements: Non-research employees

Requirement for supervisors

All UCSD supervisors and project managers must:

  • Conduct and document a workplace hazard assessment to determine PPE requirements.
  • Provide employees with PPE and training identified by the hazard assessment.
  • Ensure employees use and properly maintain required PPE.

How to comply with PPE requirements

Follow the steps below to meet PPE requirements:

1. Complete a PPE Hazard Assessment

  • Use the PPE Hazard Assessment Form (English) (Spanish) to perform and document a workplace hazard assessment.
  • Keep all PPE-related documentation until the hazard ends or is eliminated.

2. Provide PPE and training

  • Based on the hazard assessment, provide employees with required PPE.
  • Provide employees with time and resources to be adequately fitted and trained to use assigned PPE.
  • Confirm employees properly maintain and store their assigned PPE in safe, sanitary conditions at all times.
  • Communicate and provide documented training on these topics to each employee required to use PPE:
    • Type of PPE selected
    • When the employee is required to use the PPE
    • How to put on, adjust, wear, and remove PPE according to manufacturer instructions
    • Limitations of the PPE
    • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of their PPE
    • How to discard contaminated PPE

3. Confirm employees understand and comply

  • Make sure employees demonstrate an understanding of the training topics above before performing work that requires the PPE.
  • Retrain employees who do not demonstrate an understanding or do not exhibit an adequate skill level.

4. Update your Hazard Assessment

  • Update your Hazard Assessment as hazards and personnel change, and at least once every 12 months, irrespective of changes to hazards or personnel.
  • Identify and evaluate new equipment and processes for PPE requirements.
  • Review accident records and reevaluate the suitability of previously selected PPE.

5. PPE for visitors

  • Provide disposable PPE for visitors and service workers if necessary.

Questions? Contact a General Safety specialist.

Requirements: Research employees

PI Responsibilities

As a principal investigator and employee supervisor at UC San Diego, you are required to:

  • Enforce the UC Systemwide PPE policy for minimum PPE in your lab.
    • Minimum lab attire and PPE equipment required at all times for lab workers is full length pants (or equivalent) and closed toe/heel shoes.
  • Create a Hazard Control Plans using the Chemical Hazard Use Application (CHUA) to identify and assign appropriate PPE for each hazardous chemcial in your lab. Each lab employee is assigned to a Hazard Control Plan that specifies PPE they are required to wear for work with the hazardous chemical.
  • Use Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT) from My Research Safety to identify and assign appropriate PPE. The LHAT provides a summary report of hazards present in the lab and specifies PPE for workers.

How to comply with PPE requirements

Follow the steps below:

1. Hazard Control Plans

  • Access the Chemical Hazard Use Application from My Research Safety.
  • Develop a Hazard Control Plan in CHUA for each hazardous chemical present in your lab. Hazard Control Plans specify PPE required for work with a particular hazardous material.
  • Assign employees on your Lab Personnel list to appropriate Hazard Control Plans. Confirm each employee acknowledges receipt of their assigned Hazard Control Plan(s).

Questions? Contact the Research Assistance Program specialist for your area.

2. Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool

  • Access the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool from My Research Safety.
  • Create a new hazard assessment and answer the questions to survey your lab for hazards.
  • Once all questions are answered, the PI must review and confirm the assessment.
  • After the assessment is confirmed, the assessment should be distributed to appropriate laboratory personnel, who will receive an email asking them to review the document and click a link to confirm their review.
  • PPE required by the assessment will automatically be added to each assigned persons' PPE list to indicate the items are required for their research. As the person receives the items, documentation of receipt can be made in the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool, under the Manage Existing Hazard Assessments link.
  • Update your Laboratory Hazard Assessment as hazards and personnel change, and at least once every 12 months, irrespective of changes to hazards or personnel.
  • Identify and evaluate new equipment and processes for PPE requirements.
  • Review accident records and reevaluate the suitability of previously selected PPE.

Questions? Contact the Research Assistance Program specialist for your area.

3. Provide PPE and training

  • Provide employees with required PPE, based on your Hazard Control Plans and Laboratory Hazard Assessment.
  • Ensure employees are properly fitted and trained to use their assigned PPE.
  • Confirm employees know how to use, maintain, and store their PPE in safe, sanitary conditions.
  • Communicate and provide documented training on these topics to each employee required to use PPE:
    • Type of PPE selected
    • When the employee is required to use the PPE
    • How to inspect, put on, adjust, wear, and remove PPE according to manufacturer instructions
    • Limitations of the PPE
    • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of their PPE
    • How to discard contaminated PPE

4. Confirm employees understand and comply

  • Confirm on your CHUA Lab Personnel list that employees acknowledge receipt of their Hazard Control Plan and Laboratory Hazard Assessment assignments.
  • Confirm employees understand the training topics above before beginning work in your lab.
  • Retrain employees who do not demonstrate an understanding of PPE use or do not exhibit an adequate skill level.

5. PPE for visitors

Provide disposable PPE for visitors and service workers if necessary.

Questions? Contact the Research Assistance Program specialist for your area.

Hazard Assessment Forms

Use the PPE hazard assessment document appropriate for your work area. Update your hazard assessment as hazards and personnel change, and at least once every 12 months, irrespective of changes to hazards or personnel.

Non-lab facilities:

PPE Hazard Assessment form: English | Spanish (PDF)

Research facilities:

PIs, access the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT) from My Research Safety. Click Create New Hazard Assessment to begin the process or Manage Existing Hazard Assessment to review an existing one.  

Employee responsibilities

Employees are expected to:

  • Ask if PPE is needed to perform your assigned tasks.
  • Demonstrate full understanding of the use and limitations of your PPE.
  • Wear only the PPE assigned for a specific job assignment or task.
  • Tell your supervisor if the hazards of the task change.
  • Inspect the condition and fit of your PPE before each use.
  • Avoid altering or compromising the effectiveness of your PPE.
  • Clean, maintain, and store your assigned PPE in a ready-to-use and sanitary condition at all times.
  • Use university-issued PPE only for university job functions and tasks.

Factors that affect PPE selection

After completing a workplace hazard assessment, consider these factors when selecting PPE:

  • Types of hazardous materials, processes, and equipment involved
  • Routes of potential exposure (ingestion, inhalation, injection, or dermal contact)
  • Available engineering controls
  • Correct size for maximum protection
  • Minimal interference with movement

Ensure safety devices or safeguards which may include PPE are acceptable type, design, strength, and quality, and are at least equivalent to standards approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Consult Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazardous materials

Safety Data Sheets (formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets) list appropriate and compatible safety equipment for hazardous materials. In-depth resources, such as toxicological databases, have information on chronic and acute toxicity issues.

Limitations of PPE

PPE does not eliminate the hazard. If personal protective equipment fails or is improperly used, exposure can occur.

For reliable protection, make sure PPE is clean, in good condition, fits correctly, and is appropriate for the materials and equipment used.

Understanding the purpose and limitations of PPE will help you select and use it effectively.

Types of PPE

Body protection

Use protective clothing as a safeguard against hazardous material spills, splashes, intense heat, impact, cuts, infectious materials, and radiation exposures. Protective clothing includes lab coats, smocks, scrub suits, gowns, rubber or coated aprons, coveralls, uniforms, and pierce-resistant jackets and vests.

Shop, trades, and maintenance workers

For work with hazardous materials such as pesticides, herbicides, and caustic materials, wear coveralls or a uniform you can change out of after work.

Laboratories

Minimum required PPE that must be worn at all times in a laboratory or technical area is full length pants (or equivalent).

Lab coats (or equivalent protective garments) must be worn by all personnel working with hazardous materials as determined by a hazard assessment.

Flame resistant lab coats may be required when handling pyrophoric, air/water reactive materials, open flames, and certain quantities of flammable liquids.

Other criteria for selecting lab clothing include:

  • Liquid-resistant fabric or coatings when spills or splashes are anticipated
  • Non-disposable garments must be capable of withstanding sterilization should they become contaminated
  • Closure types and location for ease of use
  • Antistatic properties
Resources

Eye, face, and neck protection

Use safety glasses for minor splash hazards, goggles for moderate hazards, and goggles combined with a face shield for severe hazards.

Safety glasses - Eye protection is indicated for flying particles, acids or caustic liquids, welding, light that could injure eyes (lasers, ultraviolet, infrared, radiation), and infectious body fluids. Adequate eye protection requires the use of hardened-glass or plastic safety spectacles with side shields. Safety glasses used in the laboratory must comply with the Standard for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection (Z87.1) established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Side shields on safety glasses offer some protection from objects approaching from the side, but do not provide adequate splash protection. Wear chemical splash goggles or full-face shields when significant liquid splash hazards exist.

Goggles - Goggles provide a tighter face seal than safety glasses, and are not for general laboratory use. Wear them when there is a hazard from splashing chemicals or flying particles. For example, wear goggles when using glassware under reduced or elevated pressure, or using glass apparatus in combustion or other high temperature operations. Impact-protection goggles have perforated sides to provide ventilation and reduce fogging of the lens, but do not offer full protection against chemical splashes. Use chemical goggles with splash-proof sides for protection from harmful chemical splash. There are also specific goggles and masks for glassblowing and intense light sources such as welding or lasers.

Face shieldFace shields - Goggles or safety glasses alone do not meet ANSI standards for face and neck protection. For greater protection from flying particles and harmful liquids, wear a face shield to protect the face and throat—critical if your work puts you at risk of hazardous material splashes or flying debris from possible explosions. For full protection, wear a pair of safety glasses or goggles (depending on the hazard) in combination with a face shield. Consider using a face shield or mask when operating a vacuum system (which may implode), or conducting a reaction with explosive potential. Always use a UV-blocking face shield when working with transilluminators or other devices that produce ultraviolet radiation.

Resources

Foot protection

Laboratories

Minimum required PPE that must be worn at all times in a laboratory or technical area is closed-toe/heel shoes to protect feet from chemical spills and sharp objects.

All workplaces

Other high-risk professions require different types of protective footwear, including:

  • Steel-toed footwear and puncture-resistant soles and uppers for workers handling heavy materials or using rotating machinery near their feet, including groundskeepers and machine shop employees
  • Rubber-soled shoes for electricians, construction workers, and others who work near live electrical conductors
  • Slip-resistant shoes (usually rubber-soled with a grip pattern) for anyone who works in wet environments, including ships, aquariums, or kitchens
Resources

Hand protection

Wear proper protective gloves for potential contact with corrosive or toxic materials, materials of unknown toxicity, sharp edged objects, and very hot or cold materials. Select gloves based on the material handled, the particular hazard involved, and their suitability for the operation conducted.

Not every glove is good for every application. Perform a risk assessment BEFORE making your selection. Common glove materials include neoprene, polyvinyl chloride, nitrile, butyl, and natural rubbers (latex). These materials differ in their resistance to various substances.

Chemicals eventually permeate all glove materials. However, gloves are safe for limited periods if one knows the specific use and glove characteristics (such as thickness and permeation rate and time).

Use disposable surgical-type gloves for incidental contact. Consider double gloving (the wearing of 2 gloves on each hand) when handling highly toxic or carcinogenic materials. Use heavy-duty gloves for non-incidental contact and gross contamination.

Wear sturdier gloves such as leather for handling broken glassware, inserting glass tubes into rubber stoppers, and similar operations where you do not need protection from chemicals.

Use insulated gloves when working at temperature extremes. Do not wear woven gloves while working with cryogens as the liquid may work its way through the glove to your hand. Use gloves specifically designed for work with cryogens. Gloves worn for working with elevated temperatures may not be appropriate for working with extremely low temperature liquids.

Resources

Head protection

Head protection is indicated for moving or falling objects, the possibility of bumping heads on objects or equipment, or contacting an electrical source. Hard hats must be worn by electricians, construction workers, and any other workers when there is a danger of objects falling from above.

Resources

Hearing protection

A variety of hearing protectors, including earplugs and ear muffs, are available for employees whose workplace reaches critical noise levels. Situations where employees are routinely exposed to elevated noise levels must be evaluated to determine if employees must be included in UCSD's Hearing Conservation Program.

Resources

Respiratory protection

Fitted (cartridge) air-filtering face masks are only used under the direction of EH&S. Work environments and processes where exposure to harmful material by inhalation is possible and cannot be prevented with engineering controls will be evaluated to determine if employees must be included in UCSD's Respiratory Protection Program.

Disposable "dust masks" may be used for protection from nuisance dusts.

Resources

Prevent the spread of contamination

Prevent the spread of contaminants:

  • Remove all PPE before leaving your workplace.
    • Never wear lab coats, gloves, coveralls or other potentially contaminated PPE to public locations such as cafeterias, restrooms, elevators, offices, or other off-site areas.
  • Clean and store PPE as described in training and according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always wash your hands after removing protective equipment and before leaving the work area.
  • Do not reuse disposable gloves.
  • Have lab coats and coveralls laundered regularly by a designated vendor.
  • Do not take contaminated clothing home for laundering, or to any other undesignated site.

Note: Potentially contaminated PPE attire must be laundered by a laundry service that adheres to Title 8, Section 5193 of the California Code of Regulations. Your workplace should have laundry service for required safety attire. Do not take it home!

Regulations and policies

State of California

University of California

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* Engineering controls are used to remove a hazard or place a barrier between the employee and the hazard. Administrative controls are changes in work procedures with the goal of reducing the duration, frequency, and severity of exposure.

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