The Laboratory Coat.
A white coat or laboratory coat is a knee-length overcoat worn by professionals in the medical field or by those involved in laboratory work. The coat protects their everyday clothes and also serves as a simple uniform. The garment is made from white or light-coloured cotton, or cotton polyester blend, allowing it to be washed at high temperature and make it easy to see if it is clean.
When used in the laboratory, they protect against accidental spills, e.g. acids. In this case they usually have long sleeves and are made of an absorbent material, such as cotton, so that the user can be protected from the chemical. Some lab coats have buttons at the end of the sleeves, to secure them around the wrist so that they do not hang into beakers of chemicals.
For added safety, a variant of the lab coat, called a “Howie” style lab coat is often adopted . It is called that after a 1978 report commissioned by the UK department of Health and Social Security to codify standard clinical laboratory practices, chaired by a JW Howie. Among the codified standards was protective clothing – the type of wrap around full-coverage lab coat which had been in use in the UK for over a hundred years was nicknamed the “Howie-Style” coat to indicate its compliance with the provisions of this report. It has the buttons on the left flank, elasticated wrists and a mandarin collar and is quite similar to a chef’s uniform and designed to minimise pathogen contact with street clothes.
Do wear a lab coat when a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Hazard Assessment of the laboratory determines hazards to the body are present or likely to be present. A good rule of thumb is to wear a lab coat at all times when working in a lab.
Do wear lab coats that cover the knees and have full length sleeves.
Do keep lab coats completely buttoned up. Snap closures are preferred over buttons or zippers to keep the body covered and allow quick removal in an emergency
Do immediately remove a lab coat if on fire or if there is obvious hazardous contamination
Do consider the addition of a rubber apron when there is a significant chance of exposure to corrosive materials
Do keep lab coats clean. If they become contaminated they should be decontaminated or cleaned on site, sent away for cleaning by professionals who have been informed of the hazards or disposed of as a hazardous material.
Don’t wear lab coats unbuttoned as that can compromise a wearers safety
- If the chemical is safe to dispose to drains (e.g. most Acids and Alkalis), rinse it clean in water before sending it to be laundered.
- If the spill was a solvent it must have completely evaporated off before it is cleaned.
- Toxic chemicals spilt on a lab coat will require that it be disposed of via chemical waste.
P&R Labpak Limited offer a range of laboratory coats and currently have some on special offer. Terms and conditions apply.
Please visit http://www.prlabs.co.uk/news/article.php?Id=195 for details.