Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to clothing or equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or infection. PPE includes items such as lab coats, gloves, and safety glasses.

Lab Coat

  • Adds an additional layer of protection for skin
  • Protects area not already covered by clothing
  • Should be washed by an approved method on a regular basis (NOT at home)
  • Must be 100% cotton in labs where open flames are present 
  • Must cover the wearer to the knees
  • Required when handling chemicals, biologic materials, and radioactive materials


  • Protect hands from spills and splashes
  • Required when handling chemicals, biological materials, and radioactive materials
  • Do not reuse nitrile or latex gloves
  • Should be the appropriate material for your research

NOTE: A very common PPE mistake is the reliance on latex gloves for all purposes of use. Latex gloves do not provide adequate chemical protection from organics, solvents, toxics, acids, or bases. The best choice for all purpose use is nitrile gloves.

Safety Glasses

  • Protects eyes from spills and splashes 
  • Your regular glasses are not safety glasses. Safety glasses must be worn over prescription glasses.
  • Required when handling chemical, radiological, and biological materials. 

In addition to PPE requirements, Pitt has a laboratory dress code which includes the following recommendations:

  • Wear long hair tied back.
  • Wear long pants that cover to the ankle.
  • Wear clothing made of natural fibers because they are fire resistant.
  • Shoes that completely enclose the foot and can be wiped clean.

Additional PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements vary by the type of lab you are working in; refer to the Personal Protective Equipment SOP (PDF)


Learn more about personal protective equipment from the EH&S online training module. Visit the EH&S Training web page.