Safety is the most important part of daily operations for any medical facility, and lab safety is particularly important. Choosing the right PPE for lab technicians can prevent injuries, improve productivity, and limit the number of accidents in the lab. The largest piece of PPE workers wear in the lab is, of course, a lab coat. Lab coats made of cloth may work well for doctors who have little if any lab time, but they can quickly become hazards. Disposable lab coats are a more sanitary option, and they have several important safety benefits.
Prevents dangerous chemical mixtures and limits flammability
Spills are inevitable in the lab, and in a setting filled with dangerous, often volatile chemicals, it’s important to prevent them from mixing. Even basic household cleaners can turn into a poisonous gas when they come into contact with each other. In a lab filled with potent concentrations of dangerous chemicals, these risks are magnified.
It’s also important to note that many chemicals lab techs come into contact with are flammable. Paired with open flames from Bunsen burners and other equipment, this can become a nightmare in an instant. Although both cloth and disposable lab coats are typically designed to be fire resistant, a catalyst can cause anything to catch and burn. By wearing a new, disposable lab coat every time they enter the lab, technicians reduce the risk of accidentally choosing a lab coat that has not been washed, or has not been washed thoroughly enough to remove flammable materials. This means disposable lab coats are also more cost efficient, since any lab coat that comes into contact with dangerous or flammable materials ought to be removed and disposed of immediately.
Prevents the spread of contagions
Perhaps the greatest risk in the lab comes not from chemicals or equipment, but from samples of bodily fluids, including those infected with contagious diseases. Until testing is completed, it’s impossible to know what hazards a sample may contain. Many samples arrive at the lab for study and experimentation after they have been confirmed as hazardous. Spills put everyone in the room at risk, even if the contagion is not airborne. All surfaces the sample came in contact with must be sterilized, and disposable lab coats offer ideal sanitation.
Prevents sample contamination
Even if your lab technicians are safe from the samples they handle, are the samples safe from the technicians? Fabric lab coats should be cleaned between each use, and they can carry hints of detergent, fabric softeners, and bleach. Since bleach is the only sure way to sanitize such apparel, the lab coat will suffer a lot of wear and tear in a short period of time. This makes for tiny, loose strings and frayed material that can crumble into samples and test tubes. Disposable lab coats do not carry this risk, and since patients’ health depends on the accuracy of the lab, this is a huge safety benefit.
A lab may be a hazardous place to work, but disposable lab coats minimize many of the risks. They protect both the lab technicians and the patients they serve. For ideal sanitation, cleanliness, and safety, always use a disposable lab coat.