What is a Lab Coat?

When I was growing up I always associated what one person wear with the kind of work they do, or should I say the other way around?

Like, if I see a man in a coverall, I would tell myself that the guy is from sanitation and waste disposal. When I see a man in a lab coat, then I knew for sure that he is definitely a doctor from the hospital. A nurse is always in white. A man in a business suit with an attaché case is a lawyer. The chef has this type of hat that is different from a baker. Well, those were just few of my perceptions then but I guess that fascination with the different apparel each type of work wear is what drove me to work with uniforms.

Over the years I realized that what I thought then is not always and dogmatically true. I mean other work or jobs also make use of coveralls such as mechanics, farm operations, chemical protection and many more. Nurses do not always wear white, these days they are allowed to use other colors. In fact their hospital scrubs are now available in different styles and colors. I even saw a medical uniform in prints that I doubted it was a uniform until I saw the patch pockets. And a medical doctor is not the only one who wears a lab coat.

A lab coat is also worn by a person who works in a laboratory and is actually considered personal protective equipment when working with chemicals and biological. Its function is to protect the skin and clothing from splatter and spills of these harmful materials. In order that the person is protected well by a lab coat, it is important to make sure that the lab coat is fully buttoned with sleeves rolled down. Most of the time, only the hands are not covered but when working with hazardous chemicals these professionals are required to don gloves. And if gloves are worn, the sleeves of the lab coat should be tucked inside the gloves. Also, when working in laboratories, most of these lab coats should also be fire-resistant. A lab coat is required when working in a lab because in case of accidents it is also easier to remove than street clothes to reduce chances of skin getting in contact with the hazardous materials.

A lab coat should only be worn inside the laboratory and should be taken off before going home or even going to other parts of the building. This is especially true when working with hazardous chemicals as this can transfer the materials or worse can contaminate other places or other people. While the lab coat is worn to ward off contamination, the lab coat itself is considered contaminated already. So this should not be included in your own laundry but usually companies provide laundry service to ensure proper care for these lab coats.

When choosing a lab coat, functionality should always be the first basis. That is if the company does not provide the lab coat for its employees.

Next…I will write on the different fabrics, different types of lab coat as well as a list of people who also wear a lab coat at work.