The safety of people working in a laboratory is of much importance. Ensuring that lab workers work in a well-organized and ventilated place is the first step to guarantee their safety. It’s the nature of lab workers to come into contact with chemicals, apparatus, and specimens that can threaten their health.
According to a report published in the journal Nature, 25-38% of lab worker participants have been involved in an accident but didn’t report to their supervisor. Additionally, 27% of researchers revealed that they never conducted risk assessment before performing laboratory work.
Coming up with safety measures to protect lab workers is essential in preventing disasters in the lab. However, since safety measures can only be beneficial upon their full enforcement, authoritative management is required. Adhering to the following safety tips may be a significant step in ensuring lab worker safety:
- Abide By The General Lab Safety Rules
General lab safety rules are essential in ensuring the safety of lab workers. They include what should be done in an emergency, safe handling of equipment, use of laboratory equipment, and other minor guidelines. Lab workers should ensure that they remember the following:
- Read, understand, and follow fire and safety signs in the event of a fire or any emergency.
- Be aware of the evacuation procedures of the building.
- Know the whereabouts and how to use safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits, among others.
- Know what numbers to dial in case of an emergency.
- Avoid tasting or smelling the chemicals.
- Avoid lifting glass apparatuses or chemicals above eye level.
- Never use your mouth as suction for the pipette.
- Never experiment while alone inside the lab.
- Don’t leave ongoing experiments unattended.
- Avoid using laboratory glassware as food containers.
- Don’t operate lab equipment you’re not trained or authorized to use.
- Report any accident or broken apparatus no matter how small they seem.
- Any equipment that requires airflow or ventilation to prevent overheating should always be kept clear.
To learn how to enhance your safety as a lab worker, you can enroll in safety courses such as Bloodborne Pathogens Training. Training courses like this are designed for persons working in places exposed to bloodborne pathogens, including labs, hospitals, pharmacies, primary care facilities, etc.
- Follow Dress Code
Laboratory workers are required to dress in a manner that can protect them from accidents and injuries that may take place in the lab. For instance, while open shoes are best for walking around on a sunny day, they’re unsuited for the lab. Avoid exposing skin at any cost inside the lab to prevent injuries due to direct contact with chemicals. Lab workers should always obey the following steps to enhance their safety:
- Long hair that could get entangled should be secured.
- Avoid open shoes that expose the feet while in the lab.
- Avoid wearing shorts or short skirts in the lab.
- Acrylic nails aren’t permitted while working with Bunsen burners and matches.
- Secure hanging jewelry and loose clothing while in the lab.
- Adhere To Personal Protection Guidelines
- Besides laboratory dress code rules, personal protection guidelines are required to ensure lab workers’ safety further. Personal protection safety involves protecting themselves from various risks and observing hygiene measures to avoid contamination. Lab workers should always remember to:
- Wash hands before and after leaving the lab.
- Wear safety glasses when working with glassware and other hazardous materials.
- Wear safety gloves while handling chemicals.
- Put on a lab coat when performing experiments.
- Avoid touching the eyes, mouth, face, and body when performing an experiment or handling chemicals.
- Wash hands with running water and soap after experiments.
- Stick To Chemistry Lab Safety Rules
Chemistry labs are among the most common types of laboratories. Chemistry lab safety rules are important to many lab technicians due to the risks they face while working. Lab workers should:
- Ensure they’re fully aware of the risks they face while working with each material.
- Be cautious while distilling, refluxing, or transferring harmful liquids.
- Avoid pouring chemicals from large to small containers.
- Never mix used chemicals with unused ones.
- Avoid measuring, mixing, or heating chemicals in front of the eyes.
- Never add water into concentrated acid. Acids should be added to the water while stirring gently.
- Obey Chemical Safety Rules
Every laboratory uses different types of chemicals. That’s why chemical safety rules are imposed to ensure the safety of lab workers. Adhering to these rules prevents spillage inside the lab that can add to environmental pollution. Chemical safety rules also guide the workers on how to handle instances of chemical spillage. To ensure their safety, lab workers should keep these simple rules in mind:
- Treat all chemicals as dangerous.
- Avoid any solvent from coming into contact with their skin.
- Read and understand the contents of any bottle before using it.
- Avoid taking more chemicals from the bottle than what’s required.
- Label all chemicals correctly, including the date they were received, their expiry date, and the name of the person responsible for them.
- Never take chemicals out of the lab.
- Always use flammable chemicals in a fume hood.
- Clean any spilled chemicals immediately.
- Dispose of all chemical wastes properly.
- Observe Housekeeping Safety Rules
Laboratory workers are at higher risk of contracting diseases and infections if they work in untidy facilities. Housekeeping safety measures are important in ensuring that lab workers work in clean and tidy rooms, preventing them from acquiring any infectious diseases. These rules include:
- Keeping the working area clean to prevent contamination.
- Putting heavy boxes at the bottom to prevent them from falling on workers.
- Ensuring that the working area is well-organized to avoid accidents.
- Disinfecting the working area to prevent the buildup of germs and bacteria.
- Ensuring that the working area is well-ventilated to allow for air circulation.
Laboratory workers are exposed to harmful chemicals, dangerous apparatuses, and infected specimens each day. That said, safety measures are required to guarantee their safety while working. From chemicals with toxic smells to bacterial infections from specimens, lab workers face countless hazards.
Installing enough ventilation, providing them with primary education on handling and using chemicals, giving them a clean and organized working place, among other measures, ensure that your lab is an excellent working place that’s safe for lab workers.
This infographic was created by Technical Safety Services, a provider of decontamination services