Protective Gear and Safety Equipment Photo Gallery

Female college student conducting scientific experiment in science laboratory classroom
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images

This is a collection of photographs of protective gear and lab safety equipment. Examples of protective gear include safety glasses and goggles, gloves, lab coats, and hazmat suits.

Lab Coat

Seated woman wearing lab coat
A lab coat protects clothing from contamination. Tom Werner, Getty Images

Scientists and physicians wear lab coats to protect clothing from chemical, biological, and radiological exposure. Lab coats are white both because the color makes it easier to spot a contaminant and because they are often washed with bleach.

Ideally, a lab coat should be left at the lab and washed on-site. This is particular important when radioactive sources are in use.

Full Body Coverage

Man wearing clean room suit
Clean room suits cover a person from head to toe. Jason Butcher, Getty Images

While a lab coat primarily protects the wearer, a clean room suit protects the environment from contamination. This type of gear covers the head and body and includes a mask, gloves, and shoe covers. White is the color of choice because it allows for easy detection of debris. This type of gear is usually disposable. It is never allowed outside the area because it would become contaminated.

Face Mask and Gloves

This guys is taking no chances. He is wearing full protective gear while micropipetting.
This guys is taking no chances. He is wearing full protective gear while micropipetting. George Doyle, Getty Images

This researcher is wearing a protective face mask, gloves and protective plastic over his clothing. A face shield offers the advantage of full facial protection. It is used when all skin needs to be protected, not just they eyes.

Kids Wearing Safety Goggles

Kids age 5-7 wearing safety goggles.
Kids age 5-7 wearing safety goggles. Ryan McVay, Getty Images

These kids are wearing safety goggles to protect their eyes. Safety googles protect the eyes from accidental splashes from the sides as well as the front.

Safety Glasses

Everyone who sets foot in a chemistry lab should have a pair of safety glasses handy.
Everyone who sets foot in a chemistry lab should have a pair of safety glasses handy. George Doyle, Getty Images

Safety glasses confer less protection than goggles, but they are more comfortable. They are appropriate eye protection when physical debris or a small projectile is the main risk. They are not ideal for use in a chemical wet lab.

Prescription safety glasses are available. Contact lenses should not be worn in a lab where chemical, biological, or radiological risks are present.

Purple Nitrile Glove

This type 6 purple nitrile glove is used to protect the hands from liquid chemicals.
This type 6 purple nitrile glove is used to protect the hands from liquid chemicals. Mike6271, Wikipedia Commons

 There are many different materials used to make gloves. A material that works for one application may be useless or even dangerous when used in a different situation. If you're working with chemicals, be sure to know chemical incompatibilities with gloves. For example, Viton is incompatible with ketones while neoprene is a poor choice for use with aromatic hydrocarbons.

White or Transparent Gloves

Chemist wearing white gloves and lab coat
Gloves are available in a range of materials. Narong Niemhom / EyeEm, Getty Images

Thinner gloves offer advantages in terms of cost and improved dexterity. Some gloves are form-fitting, while others loosely cover the hand to minimize accidental exposure. Disposable gloves tend not to offer a lot of protection. Many people "double glove" to reduce risk.

White gloves may contain latex. If you have a latex allergy, pay attention to glove composition. Disposable gloves typically come with or without a powdered interior. The powder makes it easier to take the gloves on/off and reduces moisture accumulation inside the glove over time. However, some people report skin sensitivity to the product.

Lab Safety Gear

This scientist is illustrating the use of several pieces of protective gear.
This scientist is illustrating the use of several pieces of protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and a lab coat. William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

One interesting and useful fact about nitrile gloves is that they react with nitric acid. Spontaneous combustion may occur, potentially resulting in severe burns and the release of toxic fumes. Do not wear nitrile gloves when working with nitric acid or other acids that contain them, such as aqua regia!

Hard Hat

Man wearing hard hat and safety glasses
Hard hats are worn when there is a risk of falling objects. Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek, Getty Images

Hard hats protect the head from falling objects. They may be worn by scientists and engineers, not just by construction workers.

Hair Net and Face Mask

Woman wearing protective cap and face mask
Hair covers and face masks protect both the wearer and others.

Covering hair and wearing a mask protects both the wearer and others. This type of gear is used around other people and animals. The mask minimizes the transfer of infectious agents, while the cap or hair net reduces shedding onto surfaces.

MOPP Gear

US Marine Corps soldier wearing Mission-Oriented Protective Posture response level 4 (MOPP-4) gear.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, US Marine Corps soldier wearing Mission-Oriented Protective Posture response level 4 (MOPP-4) gear. March 20, 2003. Sgt. Kevin R. Reed, USMC

 MOPP is the acronym for "Mission Oriented Protective Posture." This gear is used by U.S. military personnel for exposure to toxic environments, such as those produced by chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. MOPP includes a mask, mask carrier with chemical detection paper and nerve antidote kits, over garments, gloves, and overboots.

Hazmat Suit

The DEA agents are wearing level B hazmat suits to protect them from dangerous materials.
The DEA agents are wearing level B hazmat suits to protect them from dangerous materials. US Department of Justice

The US Department of Homeland Security defines a Hazmat suit as "an overall garment worn to protect people from hazardous materials or substances, including chemicals, biological agents, or radioactive materials." A hazmat suit is also known as a decontamination suit. Often the suit is used in conjunction with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

NBC Suits

These NATO soldiers are wearing nuclear, chemical and biological protective gear known as NBC suits.
These NATO soldiers are wearing nuclear, chemical and biological protective gear known as NBC suits. Ssgt. Fernando Serna, US DoD

NBC stands for nuclear, biological, chemical. NBC suits are designed to be worn for extended periods of time.