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University of Colorado Denver

Environmental Health and Safety, University of Colorado Denver


Personal Protective Equipment


Personal protective equipment (PPE) provides protection to the worker when engineering and administrative controls are insufficient or as additional protection to engineering controls and work practices. The type of PPE needed to perform a given task is determined by the potential hazards associated with a task or job position. Supervisors/Principal Investigators shall provide employees with all of the necessary personal protective equipment needed.

For guidance on what type of protection is recommended, refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet or contact the EHS department for additional information.

Face and Eye Protection

 View Guidelines

Safety Glasses-The most common type of eye protection is the use of safety glasses. Safety glasses are impact resistant and can help protect the eyes from working with particles, flying objects, and minimal chemical splashes. Safety glasses are required when working with these types of materials and glasses with side protection are the most appropriate.

  • To ensure proper fit of safety glasses make sure they are snug and that there are no large gaps between the edge of the glasses and the face. Also make sure that the glasses are in good shape for maximum protection.
  • If you require prescription lenses, safety glasses must be designed to fit over prescription eyewear, or be specially designed to have prescription lenses.

Safety Goggles-Safety goggles are also an essential device for the safety of your eyes. Goggles are required when there is a danger of splashing chemicals. Goggles are stronger than safety glasses; they have greater particle protection and are better at protecting against chemical splashes.

Face Shield-A face shield goes beyond just eye protection. It is used in the added protection of the face and in conjunction with safety glasses and/or goggles. A face shield is used when working with potentially explosive chemicals, and mixing strong acids and caustics.

Visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) eTool webpage for information regarding selecting proper face and eye PPE. Please review the UC Denver Eye Protection/Eyewear Policy.


When choosing gloves for purchase or use, refer to the manufacturer's glove index or glove selection guide to be certain that the glove you choose will provide protection for the chemicals to be used. Additionally, gloves should be selected based on the activity to be performed. Thin latex or nitrile surgical style gloves are not ideal for non-lab or rugged functions, while large work gloves (even if compatible to the chemicals used) will not work well for delicate operations requiring dexterity and tactile sensitivity.

Other considerations:

  • Gloves must fit properly. Purchase gloves in the right size for each worker.
  • Consult with glove manufacturer's permeation guide charts to ensure proper glove selection for the chemical you will use.
  • Consider if an over glove will be used in conjunction with a disposable inner or surgical style glove. Ensure the outer glove sizing will work with the inner glove.
  • Butyl gloves are recommended when handling 37% or greater concentration of formaldehyde mixed with phenol, or when immersion of the hands is anticipated. Check with manufacturer's reference materials. Disposable nitrile gloves (8 mm thick) can be used when solely handling formaldehyde or formalin solutions.
  • Never plan on reusing disposable gloves.
  • Always remove gloves and wash hands before touching door handles, sink handles, elevator buttons and before leaving the laboratory.

Other PPE-

Lab coats are personal protective equipment and should be worn in the lab when working with any hazardous materials to protect the skin and clothing from splatter and spills.

  • Lab coats should be fully buttoned with sleeves rolled down.
  • In case of an accident, it is much faster and easier to remove a lab coat than street clothes to minimize skin contact with hazardous materials.
  • Don't wear lab coats in public places, such as offices, lunch rooms, lounge areas, or elsewhere outside the laboratory, as they can transfer hazardous materials and contaminate these areas.
  • Don't launder lab coats at home or with other clothing. Currently there is no lab coat laundry service on campus. Laundering of lab coats is the responsibility of the laboratory Principal Investigator/Department.

Closed toed shoes are mandatory in the laboratory environment. It is important to protect the entire foot from sharps, laboratory equipment, chemical, biological and radiological hazards.

Long pants are strongly recommended to protect the lower half of the body while working in the laboratory environment.

Respiratory Protection — Please refer to the respiratory protection page for guidance on the requirements for being fitted for a respirator.

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