At Texas A&M University at Qatar, where most of our students are Muslim, our policy is that we inform our students about the risk of synthetic thobes and abayas (the robes) and shaylas (head scarves), and then we have the students wear splash resistant inflammable lab coats over their abayas. Men can remove their gutra (head scarf). For women, if their shaylas hang down, they must be tucked into the lab coat.
We also have some students who change out of their abayas and wear full length lab coats instead, acting as temporary abayas.
The way around the niqab (face veil) is asking the students to wear cotton dental masks or P99 dust masks from the pharmacy. Super cheap and still effective.
As for the shayla, we cannot ask the students to not wear them, and there is no good alternative. All we can do is inform the students, and use engineering controls and substitutions to minimize any possible exposures.
Science Laboratory Manager
Texas A&M University at Qatar
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> On Dec 8, 2015, at 6:22 PM, Wilhelm, Monique Previous post | Top of Page | Next post
> Hello Everyone,
> The wearing of synthetic hijabs in labs is a growing concern in my dept and we want to be sure to address the issue in a culturally sensitive manner. However, none of us is Muslim and so we are seeking input. We ask students not to wear synthetic clothing to lab. Some still do and we don't really have a means to monitor and aren't very concerned because we require a lab coat with at least 35% cotton that happens to cover the clothing in case of a spill or fire. But, the lab coat does not cover any head covering.
> We recently had a fire in our organic lab and had a student who should have been right near the fire who was wearing a synthetic hijab that day. She immediately realized how devastating it would have been had she been at her hood when her partner's materials caught fire. And, we all agree.
> So, I am looking to others to determine how you address this issue. We don't want to suggest in any way that they don't wear a hijab (they have enough pressures from society in this regard as of late)....just that they wear a cotton one or if there is something available to cover it like the lab coat covers the shirts.
> I appreciate any and all input you may have, especially if you are one with experience wearing a hijab in a lab setting.
> Thank you,
> Monique Wilhelm
> Laboratory Supervisor/Adjunct Lecturer/Chem Club Co-Advisor
> Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
> University of Michigan-Flint
> Flint, MI 48502
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