When conducting laboratory research it is imperative that proper safety procedures and rules are followed in order to prevent accidents and or injuries. In this guide, we will be going over the safety procedures and rules that we must follow in a laboratory. We will also cover the necessary safety and PP equipment that is needed in every laboratory.
There are 6 topics that will cover.
In a laboratory, it is possible for an unforeseen accident to happen. Your knowledge of the safety equipment is the best way to minimize the likelihood and damage of an accident. The safety equipment you have in the lab is designed to save lives if used correctly.
- a) Safety shower. (Used in the event of a chemical spill as it will dilute any harmful chemical that you have come in contact with. It is imperative that you use the shower immediately after coming in contact with any hazardous chemicals as prolonged exposure can lead to permanent damages. Make sure to remove any clothes that have come in contact with the chemicals.)
- b) Be sure to rinse your eyes within 15 seconds of contact as any longer exposure can cause permanent damage to your Eyesite. Make sure to keep both eyes open so that the stream can rinse your eyes for at least 15 minutes)
- c) First aid kit. (Used in the event of any minor cuts or burns)
- d) Fume hood. (To be used when conducting an experiment that exerts fumes)
- e) Fire extinguisher. (To be used in case of fire)
- f) Fire blanket. (To be used in the event that lab personnel catches fire)
When working in the lab it is imperative that you do so while conducting yourself professionally. It is important that all lab staff behave in the correct manner.
- a) Follow instructions
- b) No eating or drinking in the lab (Doing so may cause contamination of your project or even cause ingestion of poisonous chemicals)
- c) Do no conduct experiments alone. Always have a lab partner
- d) Conduct proper cleaning of your lab before after and during lab work.
- e) Always dispose of chemicals in the appropriate manner.
- f) In the event of a spill please refer to the SDS sheet (Safety Data Sheet) in order to see what the correct response should be.
- g) No fooling around in the laboratory.
- h) Be aware of others and their movement.
- i) Do no conduct unauthorized experiments, defined by your laboratory rules.
- j) When in doubt, ask for assistance.
- When working in a laboratory it is important to be aware and understand the risks and hazards that are involved with chemicals. Many chemicals are toxic and corrosive to humans. The PPE and safety gear mentioned in section 3 must always be worn in order to prevent and mitigate any type of contamination or injury.
The main way that we can identify chemical hazards is by reading the SDS sheet. All chemicals in a lab are required to be accompanied by an SDS sheet, that is provided by the manufacturer of the chemical. It is important to know the location of the SDS sheets in your lab. The 16 sections that an SDS sheet covers are:
1: Identification (chemical name, manufacture’s contact information)
2: Hazard identification (warning symbols, signal words, and safety symbols)
4: First-aid measures
5: Fire-fighting measures
6: Accidental release measures (instructions for containment and the clean-up procedures for chemical spills)
7: Handling and storage
8: Exposure controls and personal protection (This section provides information regarding the correct PPE that should be worn when working with the specific chemical)
9: Physical and chemical properties (appearance, odor, pH, flash point & solubility)
10: Stability and reactivity
11: Toxicology (information regarding the possible routes of exposure and symptoms)
15: Regulatory consideration
16: Other information
An SDS sheet will provide plenty of useful information regarding a chemical, therefore it is important to read the document thoroughly before conducting research.
Safe Handling of Chemicals
It is important to prepare before working with chemicals by determining the possible risks and wearing the appropriate PPE. And be aware of the protective measures and emergency responses that relevant to the chemicals you are working with.
- a) When diluting acids or bases, always add the acid or base to the solvent, such as water. Not, the other way around. Doing so may cause a reaction causing injuries and burns.
- b) Never remove chemicals from the lab.
- c) Wear proper goggles. In some cases, Splash Goggles may be needed in order to protect yourself from splashes or spills. Splash Goggles should be marked with the code Z87.1.
- d) Wear a full chemical-resistant apron when dealing with splash hazards.
- e) When working with a corrosive chemical it is necessary to wear full arm-length rubber gloves.
- f) Some chemicals can harm you without contact with your skin, Therefore, it is important to be aware of inhalation exposure. DO NOT smell a chemical, always work with toxic chemicals under a fume hood.
- g) Be sure to tightly close any containers when not in use.
- h) Be sure to evacuate the lab immediately in the event of a large chemical spill.
- i) Always know the flammability and explosive potential for each chemical you work with.
- j) Separate flammables away from all ignition sources such as burners and hot plates.
- k) Store flammables in a separate cabinet that is grounded.
- l) When you are finished with the research be sure to properly dispose of any chemicals according to your local laws.
- m) Use chemical-resistant plastic or metal containers when disposing of chemicals.
- n) Do not use the fume hood as a method of disposal.
- o) Materials used for clean-up are also considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of accordingly.
Other General Hazards
So far in this article, we have covered a number of important topics regarding laboratory safety. However, there are still a few general lab hazards that we need to cover which are just as important.
- a) Electrical shock. Many pieces of equipment in a lab operate at high voltages. It is important to keep any liquid or water away from these instruments. Conduct routine checks of any electrical cords for fraying.
- b) Burns. Many instruments in the lab operate at high temperatures and can cause burns. It is important to use heat-resistant gloves when handling hot materials. Low temperatures can also be harmful to your skin. Wear insulated gloves when handling dry or ice or items stored in a freezer.
- c) Keep floors clean to prevent slips or falls. No items or instruments should be stored on the floor. Use “Wet Floor” signs to warm collogues of any spill that has not yet been cleaned.
- d) Be sure to secure any gas cylinder with a heavy-duty clamp and strap. A gas cylinder head also must be secured with a protective cap when not in use.
When proper lab safety rules and procedures are not followed, accidents can happen resulting in serious injury and or damage to the laboratory. Chemicals and equipment must always be handled and stored properly in order to mitigate accidents. It is important that all lab workers know and follow all the safety procedures in order to prevent any accidents or damage.