7 Tips for Practicing Proper Lab Safety

Laboratories are the birthplace of technology and innovation, but they can also be dangerous. Lab safety is vital for researchers and students alike. There are even a few specific practices that stand out for being especially important.

Use Eye Protection

The eye is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. Abrasions and chemicals alike can damage it in a laboratory environment, so eye protection is vital. Safety goggles should be worn whenever a worker is anywhere near an experiment in progress, just in case an accident happens. The goggles should also be kept as clean as possible to avoid bacterial contamination or simple smudges that can make it hard to see and lead to accidents in the lab.

Find the Showers

Most labs will have a set of safety showers, which are used to get chemicals off of people in an emergency. They are normally placed around the lab in regular intervals, to ensure that anyone can access them at a moment’s notice. Every new worker in the lab should find all of the showers and memorize their locations. They should also make a point of learning how to operate them. Most people will never need to use them, but they can safe a life when they are necessary, so it is vital to be able to use them without hesitation.

Use Fume Hoods

Human lungs are also fairly easy to damage, especially by inhaling smoke or fumes from a variety of chemicals. Many of those chemicals are also highly important tools in the lab, which forces researchers to work with them regularly. The risk of an injury can be minimized by handling all of the chemicals in a fume hood, which will contain the fumes and dispose of them as safely as possible. Always remember to make sure that the fume hood is working properly before making use of it to minimize the chance of a dangerous accident.

Take Your Time

Hasty workers make mistakes, and those mistakes can quickly turn into dangerous catastrophes. It is vital to take the time to read all instructions as carefully as possible, and to handle reagents with care to avoid spills or dropping a beaker. Even something as simple as misreading a label, which can easily happen when a worker is in a hurry, can lead to a laboratory disaster. There is simply no substitute for taking things slow and doing everything right the first time. After all, no amount of added speed can make up for the delay that comes with a serious accident in a lab.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

All measurements should be as precise as possible. Adding too much of a chemical to a reaction can change the rate at which it occurs and lead to unexpected results. Mistaken measurements can also lead to dangerous excesses that lead to accidents. It’s impossible to fix most reactions after they start, so good researchers always check their measurements before they get things started.

Avoid Loose Hair

Long hair can easily turn into a hazard in the lab. It can tumble into chemicals, get caught in machinery, or cause any number of other problems. Fortunately, researchers can culminate most of the danger by keeping their hair under control. Rather than letting it flow freely, it should be worn in a bun or other restrictive hairstyle. That makes sure that it can’t get in the way, which is good from both a lab safety perspective and for its ability to make sure that the hair does not get ruined by exposure to reagents during an experiment.

Wear Solid Shoes

Gravity is a powerful force, once that ensures that things that get spilled will tend to travel down, towards the feet. That means that a researcher’s feet are always in the line of fire when accidents happen, and they need to have some protective equipment. A good pair of solid shoes will normally suffice, with hard surfaces being ideal because they tend to absorb chemicals more slowly than the alternatives. Open sandals should be avoided at all costs, as should high heels and other accessories that can make it harder to move in the lab.

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