You cannot achieve complete safety in labs using one set of rules. What is acceptable and workable in one laboratory may fail in another exposing lab users to risks. However, there are general lab safety rules that apply in any sort of lab. Here are 10 such lab safety rules to help keep you safe.
1. Flammable Chemicals Should be Stored in Fireproof Cabinets
Fire is dangerous especially in a lab. All the flammable solvents and chemicals should be stored inside fireproof cabinets. Always remind lab users to put flammable items back in the safety cabinet after use. Put up reminders on lab walls reminding them on fire safety.
2. Dress Code
When going to the lab, make sure you dress right. Your clothes will be your number one protection against accidents. Always wear shoes that are covered, hold your hair in a ponytail to prevent it from falling on fires or chemicals, wear long pants. You also need safety goggles and a lab coat, hearing protection, and gloves.
3. Working Alone In Laboratories
It is advisable to avoid working on experiments in the lab alone. When you and your colleagues are working in different labs, make sure to regularly check on one another. If there is a security guard around, ask him to keep checking on everyone. You should not carry out hazardous experiments alone. In such cases, special rules should be applied to ensure safety. Do not be alone in the lab when handling very toxic materials.
4. Do Not Eat or Drink in the Lab
It is very common for people to eat and/or drink while working. Most people enjoy drinking water or coffee at work. In the lab, however, it is crucial to avoid consuming anything. One reason is that the probability of consuming food that has accidentally been contaminated by lab chemicals is high. Some of these chemicals can be deadly. Eating in a lab also increases distractions. This is not good because you need to fully concentrate on what you are doing in a lab to avoid loss or injury. Food can also be very messy and a lab needs to be neat.
5. Avoid Tasting or Sniffing Chemicals
The chemicals and biological cultures in a lab should never be tasted or smelled. To know what a container has, look at the label. You should make it a habit to label all new containers to avoid confusion in future. Some chemicals are deadly when tasted or smelled, so avoid doing that.
6. Know Where Safety Equipment are Stored
Before anything goes wrong in the lab, it is important to not only know where the safety equipment is but also how to use it. All safety materials should be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they are in proper working condition.
7. Eye Protection
OSHA regulations require that everybody using a chemical lab have the right eye-protection gear on at all times. Eye contacts are by themselves not considered enough protection. Therefore, make sure that you have other eye-protection gear on. Chemicals can easily splash and get into your eyes if you are not wearing safety glasses. You should also not rub your eyes unless you first wash your hands thoroughly with plenty of running water.
8. Have Plenty of Working Space
When working in a lab, you need enough space to avoid accidents. Make sure that there is a designated area to put all your personal items such as coats and handbags. The aisles must be clear so that you do not trip over your protective gear.
9. Practice Safety Drills
It is important to teach kids, from a young age, some important safety drills. These can be done during play hours. You can also conduct the routine drills with older students and members of staff to prepare them for emergencies. Make sure everyone can identify meeting areas, emergency exits and people who can guide them if evacuation is essential. By so doing, you will help prevent accidents that result from people not knowing the safety measures to take in a lab.