Labs pose severe potential risks due to your exposure to chemicals, corrosives, flammable materials, different biotech lab equipment, explosive chemicals, high-pressure gasses, and more. That is why there are safety protocols designed to keep you safe while you are experimenting.
Despite the safety measures taken by laboratories, personal responsibility for safety remains. Each person in the lab should take responsibility to know how to operate the lab equipment, understand how hazardous it can be, how to work with it to reduce the potential risks and follow the basic laboratory safety rules. The knowledge and adherence to the given safety guidelines will prevent damages and avoid laboratory mishaps.
Fulfill Requirements for Working in A Laboratory –
To continue the safe lab practices, you must protect yourself with the following gear to avoid risks.
- Eye Protection – To keep your eyes protected, you must wash your eyes and wear safety glasses or goggles. It will protect your eyes from the exposed chemicals. Any minor lacerations, splashes, or burns on the skin will heal, but eye injuries can be permanent. So, eye protection is necessary.
- Lab Coats – Wearing lab coats will add a layer of protection and save your clothes from biological agents, spills, sometimes – flames, and exposure to other chemicals.
- Gloves – Since hand-on chemical experiments expose your skin to chemicals, lab equipment, gasses, and more, gloves can protect your skin from hazardous materials.
- Lab Shoes – Closed-toe shoes or lab shoes will keep you safe from slips and falls, spills, broken prickly substances, and muscle strains in the lab.
Follow Protection Rules for Self
- After experimenting with hazardous chemicals, before and after eating, and before leaving and returning to the lab, you should wash your hands.
- Cosmetics can be reactive to the chemicals you are experimenting with. So, to avoid reactions and consequences, do not use cosmetics before entering the lab.
- Know emergency exit routes.
- Keep the emergency campus telephone number handy.
- Know the location of the fire alarm, fire extinguisher, biohazard waste container, first aid kit, broom, dustpan, and disinfectant.
- Cover your cuts or wounds with a waterproof bandage or sterile cloth before entering the biotech lab.
- Do not wear long jewelry or scarves in the lab, as they can pose multiple safety hazards.
- Tie your hair up, as it can catch fire or react with chemicals.
- Do not smoke, eat, chew gum, or drink in the lab.
- Wear long pants or protective clothing, lab coats, eye goggles, gloves, and lab shoes for safety.
- Avoid working alone in the laboratory if the procedures you are conducting are hazardous and there is no one around in the building.
- Before experimenting, inspect all lab equipment for wear and deterioration.
Make Sure to Handle Your Chemicals with Care
- Never leave the lid of the chemical container open.
- You must always look out for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) label on the chemical container to assure safety in the laboratory.
- For the proper and safe disposal of lab reagents, follow instructions carefully.
- Never use an unmarked or a wrong reagent without knowing what it is.
- Never keep chemicals directly under sunlight.
- Keep containers of chemicals, acetone, alcohol, or other chemicals and gasses protected from flames and flammable liquids.
- Clean chemical spills and broken glasses and dispose of them in accordance to safety measures.
Ensure Safe Handling of The Lab Equipment
- Make the supervisor aware of any malfunctioning of your lab equipment.
- While handling lab equipment, stay aware of the impact it may cause to you and others if broken.
- Do not use or even touch the lab equipment if you do not know how to operate it. Operating lab equipment or machines without knowing exactly how to work with them can lead to severe consequences.
- Keep your experimenting or working area clean and clutter-free. It will prevent damage to the lab equipment.
- Use dry and clean lab equipment. Using dirty or already used equipment may not lead to an accurate result in the current experiment.
Stay Attentive and Acquainted with Your Surrounding
- There can be numerous things or experiments going on in a lab that might present different hazards. So, it is essential you stay aware of what is going on around you and work with care.
- Since a lab has a busy environment, you might get distracted. But, when you are working with hazardous material, you must critically think only of your experiment and stay focused to avoid mistakes.
- Avoid listening to music or using headphones. While experimenting seems great for listening to music, it can distract you. Besides, it eliminates situational awareness, makes you miss the warning from a colleague, or you would not know if a piece of lab equipment broke or there is something wrong in the lab. So, it is best to not listen to music at all.
Good lab practices are an integral part of practicing in the lab. Engineering control prevents accidents, but your knowledge of how to operate in a lab with lab equipment and chemicals is important to limit exposure to risks. If you follow the mentioned-above list and follow it religiously, it will safeguard you from a comprehensive list of dangers you might face without this knowledge.
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