Approximately 4,100 UCLA principal investigators and staff and student lab personnel picked up an assortment of lab coats, protective glasses and goggles, face shields and chemically resistant aprons — all customized for the kind of lab work they do — during a weeklong event in the Pauley Pavilion Club Room.

The distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which began on March 4 and ends today, was part of an ongoing effort to enhance lab safety at UCLA and other University of California campuses. The equipment complies with Cal/OSHA regulations and the new UC Office of the President PPE policy, which, in part, was modeled after a UCLA policy.

“This event demonstrates the commitment of UCLA and the UC Office of the President to protecting the health and safety of our researchers and highlights the importance of PPE as part of our overall laboratory safety program,” said James Gibson, assistant vice chancellor of environment, health and safety and adjunct assistant professor at the Fielding School of Public Health.

Among the thousands who came by to be outfitted with protective safety gear was Chancellor Gene Block, who holds UCLA faculty appointments in psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine and in physiological science in the College of Letters and Science. He tried on two types of lab coats and picked up safety glasses Monday morning.

Christelle Nahas/UCLA
Lab personnel could choose from 20 different kinds of eyewear.

Lab personnel were outfitted with lab coats that come in three different varieties, depending on the protective equipment required for their jobs. Each lab coat is labeled to identify each individual wearer. At another station in the large meeting room, faculty, staff and students chose from 20 different kinds of protective eyewear, including glasses that fit snugly over personal glasses.

For the first time, lab coats specifically tailored to fit women were made available to UC personnel, said Tamara Vartanian, a senior laboratory safety officer with UCLA Office of Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S), which partnered with UCOP to hold the event.

The UCLA EH&S program is nationally recognized as a leader in safety programs, including the development of laboratory hazard assessment tools. The Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool, an online report that must be filled out at least once annually by a principal investigator or lab supervisor in order to keep track of the hazards that exist in a single lab or group of labs, was developed at UCLA. It has since been adapted by UCOP for systemwide use, and other universities have expressed interest in using it.

The UCLA program has also been recognized for the training of its investigators and research staff, its comprehensive inspection program and the establishment of laboratory procedure templates. In 2012, the department was recognized by the national Campus Safety and Environmental Management Association for its excellence.