I've been watching the responses to the OP and had similar questions. I am not in academia and I've been retired for a number of years so I felt out of touch with procedures and the chemicals used today in academic labs.
The reason employers provided lab coats is because OSHA regulations require the employer to provide its employees with required personal protections, e.g., steel-tipped shoes, lab coats, safety glasses/goggles, respirators, etc. Students are not employees and therefore not covered by OSHA regulations.
One thing I found curious about the OP question and a number of the responses was the lack of some exercise relating to the purpose of the lab coats or aprons and some form of hazard analysis in the selection process. My initial thinking on the this is most lower division chemistry courses do not use particularly hazardous chemicals and the coat or apron is protection against splashes. In that case an apron seems suitable for the job and would wipe down and store much easier. Lab coats may not store in the lab locker as easily and may get further contaminated.
Moving to upper division and graduate courses to mix of chemicals may become more toxic and the issue clothing contamination and of take-home-toxins becomes a serious concern and should become part of the hazardous analysis.
I wish this analysis were more scholarly but there are others on this list serve and can do a better job of comment on my thinking.
For those at the University of California, (Riverside, Davis, any others) do you really have undergraduates purchase their own lab coats and launder them themselves?
I went to UC Santa Cruz and we did not purchase our own coats, and the school had a coat service to clean them.
In industry you must provide PPE that is required for the job, it seems like that would apply to the students too, are they required to purchase their own safety glasses too?
Taking the lab coats home (or using the dorm) to launder them seems like a bad idea, one purpose of the coats is to protect the wearer from hazardous materials. If it is taken home, hazardous materials from the lab could be carried home to expose the user and others to the hazards.
I have worked places where we had to specifically tell people NOT to take coats home (because we had a service) when people were finding a coat that they thought was "special" and wanted to keep that same coat all the time.
Unless the chemistry lab has done a hazard analysis to determine "no chemical hazard" and the coats serve the same purpose as an apron for a chef, it seems like a risky way to do it.
Curious as to how this is actually implemented.
On Mon, May 4, 2015 at 3:15 PM, Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**ucr.edu> wrote:
This is what UC Riverside does as well with the Central Storehouse in lieu of the "veterinary medicine central stores" at Davis
Russell Vernon, Ph.D.
Environmental Health & Safety
University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave
Riverside, CA 92521
Direct (951) 827-5119
Admin (951) 827-5528
Fax (951) 827-5122
Taking a trip overseas?
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Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
We are trying to get a handle on the current norm for providing lab coats (or aprons) in 1) teaching labs, and 2) in research labs at academic institutions.
Has anyone done any benchmarking or know of any recent articles?
Some of the questions we have include:
Do you require "lab coats" in academic chemistry teaching labs?
Yes - White cotton for students. Light blue for TAs. The light blue ones happen to be FR cotton, for a variety of reasons we can discuss off line.
Do you require "aprons" in academic teaching labs?
Recommended under some circumstances.
Do you require "lab coats" in research labs?
Do you require "fire resistant (FR) lab coats" in organic research labs?
Depending on circumstances - use of pyrophoric/water reactive materials, quantities of flammable solvents, use of open flame.
Do you rent them?
Do you purchase them?
Undergrads purchase through the bookstore. Researchers purchase (with PI recharge) through on-campus veterinary medicine central stores. They have a fit-set of coats, an inventory of coats for sale, and have the ability to barcode the coats for laundry and update the PI profile. TA coats are provided by the department.
Do you have the vendor launder them?
Yes, for researcher coats.
Do you launder them yourselves?
Who pays for them?
Christopher E. Kohler, MS, LPG, CCHO
Laboratory Safety Manager, EHS
Environmental Health and Safety
1514 E Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
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