Lab Coats: Basic Personal Protection

October 8, 2013

EHS Bits + Bytes Newsletter
Emily Ranken

In the aftermath of the tragic death of a UCLA researcher whose sweater was ignited by a pyrophoric material accidentally released during a transfer procedure, lab coat use has been a major topic in laboratory safety. The researcher was not wearing one! In university laboratories across the country there has been renewed emphasis on providing lab coats for work with chemicals, with a focus by some on flame resistant lab coats.

In 2012, the MIT Committee on Toxic Chemicals expanded the policy requiring lab coats. The policy now states: “At a minimum, a laboratory coat or equivalent protective clothing is required for work with hazardous chemicals, unsealed radioactive materials, and biological agents at BL2 or greater.” This policy means that most people working in a lab must wear a lab coat or equivalent, for some, if not all the work they do.
An ad-hoc committee was established to look at ways to facilitate the selection, use and maintenance of lab coats in support of the policy. The committee addressed the following:
Two vendors were selected. They are Cintas and North Star. Information on pricing and services can be found at the link above.
Now would be a good time to assess your lab coat needs and make or update arrangements for services. Review the Lab Coat FAQ or contact your EHS Coordinator or the EHS Office if you have questions about services or for assistance with an assessment and lab coat service arrangements. Bottom line- it’s now easier to make sure this basic personal protection is available for all who need it at MIT, so take action.