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Supply Chain

Disposable vs Reusable Lab Coats

Lab coats, commonly worn by healthcare personnel in the hospital setting and interchangeably referred to as white coats, are in some circumstances considered personal protective equipment (PPE). The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that regulates workplace safety and health, defines PPE as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses.” In broadest terms, lab coats, like other PPE used in healthcare facilities, should have the following characteristics:

  • Safe design and construction;
  • Clean and reliable maintenance;
  • Comfort and proper fit; and
  • Accompanying training and instruction advising staff when use is necessary; how to properly put on adjust, wear, and take off; limitations of the coat; and proper care and disposal

OSHA’s standards with respect to lab coats are mainly set forth in a directive made effective on November 27, 2001 (CPL 02-02-069, “Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens”). Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans, such as the hepatitis B virus and the human immunodefici

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