Eye protection is required whenever there is the potential for flying particles or splash of a hazardous or infectious material. This applies not only to persons who work continuously in these areas, but also to persons who may be in the area only temporarily.
The type of eye protection required depends on the hazard. Regular eyeglasses are not sufficient. For most situations, safety glasses with side shields are adequate. Other additional protective devices should be used in the following situations.
- Potential chemical splash - splash goggle with splash-proof sides.
- Potential splash of highly corrosive material - face shield and splash goggles.
- Flying particles - impact protection goggles.
- Laser, ultraviolet, infrared, or intense visible light - specialized protection for the wavelength of light present.
If chemical vapors or liquids contact the eyes, these steps should be followed:
- If wearing contact lenses, immediately remove the lenses.
- Continuously flush the eyes for at least 15 minutes.
- The instructor or laboratory supervisor should be notified and arrangements should be made to provide medical assistance.
- Someone knowledgeable about the incident should accompany the injured person to the medical facility and a copy of any appropriate SDS(s) should accompany the victim if hazardous materials are involved.
After use, eye protection equipment should be cleaned prior to reuse.
Unless the worker is wearing a laboratory coat, loose or torn clothing should be avoided due to the potential for ignitability, absorption, and entanglement in machinery. Remove dangling jewelry and pull back excessively long hair, which can pose the same type of safety hazard. Finger rings or other tight jewelry which cannot be easily removed should be avoided because of the danger of corrosive or irritating liquids getting underneath the piece and producing irritation. Rings can also puncture gloves.
Laboratory coats should be worn when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Laboratory coats worn in the laboratory area for protection against hazardous or infectious material should not be worn outside the laboratory (this is especially true of cadaver laboratories).
Shoes must be worn at all times when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Sandals, open-toed shoes, and perforated shoes should not be worn because of the danger of spillage of corrosive or irritating chemicals and the potential of cuts from broken glassware.
Protective gloves must be worn when a potential skin exposure exists or where there is a potential for accidental spills or contamination. There is no glove currently available that will protect against all chemicals. Read the label, SDS, or literature provided by glove manufacturers to select the proper glove.
General recommendations are as follows.
- For concentrated acids and alkalis or organic solvents, natural rubber, neoprene, or nitrile gloves are recommended.
- For handling hot objects, gloves made of heat-resistant materials should be available and kept near the vicinity of ovens or muffle furnaces. A hot object should never be picked up with rubber, plastic, or asbestos gloves.
- For handling very cold objects such as liquid N2 or CO2, special insulated gloves should be worn.
- For handling potentially infectious materials, nitrile or powder-free latex gloves should be used.
Gloves should be inspected before each use for discoloration, punctures, and tears. Before removal, non-disposable gloves should be thoroughly washed, either with tap water or soap and water. Contaminated gloves should be removed in such a manner as to limit contamination of the hands from the soiled gloves. Hands should always be washed after removal of gloves, regardless of whether they have obvious contamination. Always remove gloves before leaving the immediate work site to prevent contamination of door knobs, light switches, telephones, etc.
The use of N-95 respirators is required when in the presence of known or suspected tuberculosis patients (surgical masks are not acceptable). Most hospitals and clinics provide disposable respirators for this purpose.
Particulate respirators should be used when dust is generated, such as during grinding operations. Respirator use for chemical exposures is usually not required if adequate precautions are taken.
Please contact the EHSO at 405/271-3000 (Oklahoma City) or 918/660-3878 (Tulsa) if you are asked to wear a respirator. Fit testing the respirator and special training is required if respirators are worn.