Three Safety Benefits of Disposable Lab Coats

 

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Image by PublicDomainPictures – https://pixabay.com/en/users/PublicDomainPictures-14/

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.

 

The Best Protection in the Lab

 

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Image by DarkoStojanovic – https://pixabay.com/en/users/DarkoStojanovic-638422/

The best lab protection is tailored to the situation in which it is used. While most lab work requires gloves and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, different hazards demand PPE made of different materials. PPE of different colors, shapes, and designs can also save lives.

Gloves

Of all lab PPE, gloves are among the most closely linked with situational safety. Before donning gloves, the wearer must consider what the gloves will have to resist. Are chemicals involved that corrode materials like latex or nitrile? Do the gloves need to be sterile, or stand up to sharp utensils?

The materials the wearer will handle with the gloves help decide the type of gloves that ought to be used. This is true down to even the basic nuance of color. White gloves are ideal for those who are looking for evidence of blood or who intend to handle dark materials. Black latex gloves and colored gloves are best for those who need a clear view of their hands, regardless of what gets on their gloves. Technicians handling powders and white substances, also benefit from black or colored gloves.

Size and fit also play a critical part in keeping you protected in the lab. No PPE can perform its function if it is not a correct fit. For example, gloves that are too small often rip and expose skin to hazards. If a glove is too large the wearer’s grip is compromised and bacteria have an easier time slipping inside.

Glasses and Goggles

Glasses, goggles, and face shields all play the same role with increasing areas of coverage. Glasses protect the eyes from small, direct bursts of accidental spray. Goggles also protect the eyes, but they offer superior protection to protective glasses thanks to their fit and seal against the face. If you are dealing with any material that is likely to spray, then a face shield is needed for adequate protection. It is always better to be too protected in case of accidents.

When choosing protective eye wear always consider the specific lab work involved. Different labs use different materials designed specifically for that work. For example, lab technicians will need separate glasses for protection when working with lasers and other highly specialized tools.

Masks

A basic procedural mask with ear loops will serve as adequate protection in many cases. However, a cone style mask does a better job protecting the wearer and the subjects in the lab, additionally it typically provides a more comfortable fit. Rather than pucker at the sides like a flat procedural mask, cone style masks fit much better over the nose and mouth, providing superior filtration.

When handling dangerous chemicals in a closed environment, it is unlikely either a procedural mask or a cone mask will be able to thoroughly filter out hazards. In such cases, respirators are better choices.

Lab coats

A good lab coat is flame resistant and made of a material other than polyester. Reinforced seams help prevent tears that could expose the wearer to hazardous material, and it’s important to remember that a good lab coat is a bigger investment than masks and gloves, which are typically disposable. However, like any PPE, lab coats should be tailored for the situation in which they will be used. If used around infectious materials, a lab coat may need to be easily sterilized, which many materials are not. In such cases, you would be wise to find disposable lab coats that meet the same requirements.

Always look for quality when choosing your PPE. Even if a cheaper product allows you to save a little money in the short term, it can cost you heavily in medical expenses. Make sure your PPE is tailored to the specific task you plan to handle. After all, the very best surgically sterile gloves will do nothing to protect you against heated elements in the lab.

Wearing Protective Gloves Can Save Lives

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Image by DarkoStojanovic – https://pixabay.com/en/users/DarkoStojanovic-638422/

Disposable protective gloves are part of the daily routine in any medical facility that follows federal guidelines, and for good reason. Disposable protective gloves are crucial to fighting the spread of infection. The most important reason they are vital is that they protect the lives of healthcare workers and patients alike.

Disposable Protective Gloves Help Stop the Spread of Infection

Although gloves will not protect against airborne pathogens, person to person contact is still one of the most common methods of infection. Even patients who show no outward signs of infection can be carriers, and any broken skin is an invitation for infection. Protective gloves function as a disposable second skin, allowing physicians to treat each new patient with a clean pair of hands. It’s important to note that the use of disposable gloves does not replace other aspects of hand sanitation, but only maximizes cleanliness. Gloves dramatically decrease the risk of accidentally infecting one patient with another patient’s illness.

Personal Protective Equipment

OSHA’s guidelines for personal protective equipment, legally require employers to provide chemical and liquid resistant gloves for the protection of all employees. In a medical setting, disposable gloves are key in the protection and health of all healthcare staff. Even employees who never have physical contact with patients come into contact with hazardous materials on a regular basis. Bodily fluids represent the highest threat to employees. Blood can infect others with life threatening diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Trace amounts of blood can enter nearly any other bodily fluid, and other pathogens can easily infect new hosts through saliva or mucus.

Chemicals in the workplace can also pose a serious threat to workers. Wearing protective gloves does more than protect your hands. Changing your gloves between the handling of different chemicals can prevent the creation of potentially toxic mixtures. There are plenty of reasons why protective gloves are a mandatory guideline in the vast majority of the medical field.

Even the color of gloves can save a life. While white gloves are optimal for those handling dark substances that must be clearly seen, black latex or nitrile gloves have just as many, if not more, uses. Black or colored gloves allow paramedics and EMTs to examine trauma patients without showing bright red blood stains on their gloves. This helps keep the patient calmer, which keeps everyone safer. These gloves are also ideal for handling powders in a laboratory setting.

Protecting the Patient

Healthcare workers are not exempt from passing along infectious diseases. Without protective gloves it would be all too easy to infect a patient with a disease a doctor is personally carrying. Patients need to be guarded against all possible sources of contamination, including their physicians. The mouth, mucus membranes, and even the smallest of open wounds can allow infection into the body. Gloves keep healthy patients healthy and minimize the risk of infection.

The Unexpected

Although most other forms of personal protective equipment, including disposable gowns and shoe covers, are only used for specific situations; protective gloves are mandatory for essentially, any patient interaction. The reason is simple: they protect against the unexpected. Checking a patient’s back for raised moles without gloves could bring a physician into contact with an open sore. Perhaps a patient has been wiping his nose on his sleeve and his nurse adjusts that sleeve to check his blood pressure. Gloves can prevent any number of incidents that may go unnoticed.

Hospitals and medical facilities would be ideal territory for infectious diseases if healthcare workers did not practice such conscientious, preventive measures. Wearing disposable protective gloves is one of the simplest but most effective of these practices.