The selection of the correct protective clothing is a fundamental part of setting up a practice or operation that requires specific conditions for the safety of its staff and visitors, and for the integrity of its products or materials.
When looking at introducing lab coats to a facility, there are 3 essential areas of consideration in order to, first, understand the requirements of the protective clothing, two, recognise what clothing options are available and, three, implement a set of practices for the correct use of the protective clothing:
- What materials will your team be handling? Different kinds of chemicals or grades of hazard will require different specifications from your protective clothing.
- Could your team come into contact with flammable substances? If so, how much of these substances could be used or present at any one time?
- Will your team be handling liquids? What is the risk here: splash or large spills?
- Will the controlled environment have visitors? What exposure could they have to hazardous materials or substances?
- Disposable lab coats can come with a number of different specifications. They provide all the protection of washable coats within the same safety grade.
- Look for robust, hardwearing fabric and microporous materials.
- Also, look for a good range of sizes, or the quality or comfort of the coat could be undermined by it ill-fitting on some members of staff.
- Materials that offer both liquid-resistance and flexibility should be used.
- Elasticated cuffs that are comfortable and latex-free, protective collars and high-quality zip.
- Anti-static properties in the materials used.
- Lab coats especially for visitors offer essential protection for low risk purposes.
Basic safety protocol
No matter the high standard of protective clothing, if strict and well-considered safety regulations are not followed, the sterility and safety of any facility can quickly be undermined; human behaviour is by far the most critical factor in the integrity of any cleanroom, laboratory or plant.
- Lab coats and other protective clothing should be put on and taken off in designated areas according to strict procedures.
- They should be worn at all times within the controlled areas, properly and according to the set regulations.
- Lab coats and other protective clothing should not be taken outside the bounds of the controlled environment without having been either properly disposed of or designated for washing.