PPE in photography
Photography at Imperial should reflect the College’s commitment to safety in the workplace. Our guidance provides advice on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in photography, good practice for photography in a lab, and specific settings and photography styles.
All photographers working on behalf of the College should ensure that when undertaking shoots in College laboratories and technical workshops, appropriate safety measures are depicted. Our commitment to safety in the workplace should be evident in all our photographs. The guidance below relates to the use of PPE in photography.
About PPE and photography at Imperial
The College’s PPE Code of Practice was approved in 2016 (login required). Every laboratory and technical workshop at the College undergoes a workplace risk assessment, which determines the PPE required in that environment. The PPE requirements are displayed at the entrance to the workplace, and all researchers and technical staff working there have a responsibility to ensure that they meet these requirements.
Photographers should ensure that all people photographed in lab settings are using the PPE that is required for that setting. However, please note additional guidance below on portraits in lab settings. Photographers themselves should also ensure that they are wearing the PPE appropriate to the setting.
General good practice for all laboratory photography
Photographers should ensure that all people photographed in lab settings are following these general guidelines. We need to follow these rules and ensure that proper procedures are followed, especially when we are sharing our practices externally.
Participants should always follow the strongest PPE requirements for their activity during the shoot, as the image could be removed from the Asset Library if the subjects featured do not follow the College’s PPE Code of Practice.
- If lab coats are worn, long hair should be worn tied back, lanyards should be tucked into clothing or laboratory coats and hoods on clothing should be tucked underneath the coat.
- All lab coats should be worn buttoned up right to the top. If Howie-style lab coats are required in the setting, then these should be worn buttoned up to the neck, with sleeves rolled down.
- If one person in shot is wearing a lab coat, then everyone must wear lab coat, and they must be fastened up to the top, even for people featured in the background.
- The types of lab coats that appear in shot should be consistent. Howie lab coats (with the high neck and closed collar) should not be mixed with non-Howie coats, and should always be fastened up to the top button.
- If there is any activity involving liquids, then protective eyewear must be worn in lab photography regardless of the lab and even if the liquid is harmless as the viewer might not know what the liquid is. If one person is wearing protective eyewear in shot, then everyone must wear protective eyewear.
- Closed-toe shoes should be worn.
- If gloves are necessary, then their use should be consistent in images, and everyone in the shot should be wearing them.
- If a photograph depicts a group of people, all individuals should be abiding by the PPE requirements specified in the lab’s workplace risk assessment. Consistency in PPE among a group of people is very important.
Portraits of researchers in laboratory settings are particularly useful for news stories and promoting research events. For researchers working in laboratories with stringent PPE requirements, such as wet labs, the impact and effectiveness of a portrait would be weakened by the use of full PPE equipment. For portraits in which the researcher is standing away from the workstation, the PPE requirements of the laboratory may be relaxed. However, the following guidelines must be followed:
- There must be no visible activity in the background, everything must be put away and the subject clearly away from the bench. Lab coats, if worn, must still be fastened up to the top.
- General good practice should still be followed, and this relaxation should not apply if it poses any risk to safety or the research taking place for example, through the contamination of samples.
- All research ‘in action’ photographs should depict researchers using the PPE that is required under the lab’s workplace risk assessment.
Visitors to the College
Imperial regularly welcomes visitors to its laboratories, including prospective students, schoolchildren, members of the public, donors and dignitaries. In general, the PPE requirements detailed in the lab’s workplace risk assessment should apply to all visitors. If a risk assessment of a visit or activity has determined that the lab’s standard PPE requirements need not apply for the duration of a visit, then the photographer should ensure that all people photographed are abiding by the same PPE guidelines.
There may be an exception with lab coats, which researchers may wear for photography requirements, even if not necessary according to the PPE guidelines. However if one person is wearing a lab coat, everyone must wear one and they must all be fastened up to the top.