From: "Wright, Mike" <mwright**At_Symbol_Here**USW.ORG>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] lab coat question
Date: June 11, 2012 4:25:44 PM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <FA001EE30BA70F4D926117C13DAFFFDF20A35AB3**At_Symbol_Here**XMAIL-MBX-BT1.AD.UCSD.EDU>

Certainly a step in the right direction, but in the industrial labs that we represent we insist that the lab coats be laundered by the employer. It’s good that heavily contaminated coats are discarded, but any chemicals on the routinely soiled coats should not be thrown into an ordinary clothes washer with street clothes, underwear, bed sheets, etc. And if students have to buy replacements, they may be tempted to launder contaminated coats instead of replacing them.  


Michael J. Wright

Director of Health, Safety and Environment

United Steelworkers

5 Gateway Center

Pittsburgh, PA 15222


Work (412) 562-2580

Cell     (412) 370-0105

Fax     (412) 562-2584




Visit us on the web at


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Kennedy, Sheila
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 1:45 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] lab coat question


Keep trying to get the lab coat rule. It’s the best thing that ever happened to our Teaching Labs.

We used to spend uncounted hours arguing about what was suitable & what wasn’t (Cap sleeve? No sleeve? One inch of exposed belly? Half an inch?). In addition, we relied on Teaching Assistants (grad students) to communicate with students just a few years younger than themselves. I routinely offered to speak to any student, if the (often male) TA didn’t want to tell the (often female) student she wasn’t wearing enough clothing. All the time repeating ourselves ad-nauseum on the subject of suitable shoes....

When we decided to require coats, the start date was the beginning of the year (start of Winter quarter). In Fall, each TA received a shiny clean white coat which they were required to wear; since the TAs were newly arrived in the Fall, it wasn’t a change to them. At the same time, we advertised the new rule and encouraged all to “buy now & avoid the rush.” When winter quarter arrived, it was amazingly smooth – our rule was shorter/easier to understand, the bookstore was ready for us, the students had almost all received the message & the TAs were already in the groove.

The wonderful by-product is that we had far fewer arguments about shoes, although that rule had not changed. Raising expectations really did raise behavior responses. (I’ve always doubted that actually worked in practice.)

Students purchase coats (along with notebooks, pens, etc.). We purchase one new coat for each TA and supply two (laundry service rentals) for each staff member. Students and TAs wash/replace their own as needed. All are warned that a coat (or other clothing) contaminated in a chemical spill may be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Best of luck,


Sheila Kennedy, CHO
Safety Coordinator | Teaching Laboratories

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

9500 Gilman Dr. | La Jolla CA 93093 - 0303
Office: (858) 534-0221 | Fax: (858) 534-7687

s1kennedy**At_Symbol_Here** |


-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Katherine Wall
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 6:48 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] lab coat question




The chemistry doesn't change with the seasons.  I tell students to pack a bag with appropriate clothes and shoes for lab.  We are a community college and I can't get past the instructors to require lab coats, but long pants and closed toe and heel shoes are a must.  We will have the occasional girl with an inappropriate top.  Either I or the instructor will go to her and quietly tell her it is inappropriate for lab.  See if you can't require lab coats.  I wish I could!


Good luck!



Kathy Wall

Chemistry Lab Coordinator

Chemistry Adjunct Instructor

SCI 204, 630-466-2347

Waubonsee Community College






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>>> David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**DEPAUW.EDU> 6/6/2012 2:25 PM >>>

Sorry to re-hash old issues.  Can somebody please help me in thinking about lab coats as a means of PPE?  When places have a lab coat policy - where do you get them washed (what contractors do you hire for this, or what has to be done to generate an in house service)?  What kind of costs are we talking about here?


We are a small, undergrad only University.  We take safety seriously, but frankly, we don't do a lot of extremely dangerous things. We have

2000 students total, of which we have about 35 or so chemistry majors a year.  Of that, about 10 do research, so the numbers are small, and faculty guidance is present.  At present, we obviously do not use lab coats because we have not figured out how to launder them.  In some labs with infectious agents, we use disposable lab coats (and we properly manage them).  But I feel in the synthetic chemistry labs, disposable coats aren't proper (plus, they are not made of the correct material for organic synthesis).  Just as a side, we have over 65 fume hoods in our small space.  All of the students do everything in hoods - so really the hope is that there is no need to deal with spilling.  We teach them to work behind the fume hood glass, which is very effective but not always practical (so there are of course times when they have a potential to have an accident and spill on themselves).  We try to take that all out of the equation, and have done a good job thus far, but nothing is perfect.


On a similar note - in the summer months, how do you specify a "minimum"

bit of lab clothing to be worn by people.  If you allow shorts - do you specify a minimum length, and with shirts, do you have any specifics on minimum coverage?


All of this is related if you didn't guess.  We have students that we want to cover up, and so we are just looking for ways to do this properly.


Thanks for any help



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