Laboratory Safety

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Laboratories and shops can be a hazardous place to work. Employees and students are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards. All employees and students must receive training before starting any activities in labortory and shops that could impact their safety. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous local, state and federal regulations; OSHA, NFPA, ANSI standards, etc.

General laboratory safety principles include:

  • Goggles must be worn at all times that experimentation with hazardous chemicals is being done by or around the wearer. Avoid wearing contacts in the lab if possible.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum, or applying cosmetics in the lab is not permitted. Do not store food or drinks in area where hazardous chemicals are present.
  • Wear gloves whenever handling hazardous chemicals, sharp-edged objects, very hot or very cold materials, toxic chemicals, and substances of unknown toxicity.
  • Secure all compressed gas cylinders to walls or benches.
  • All containers of chemicals should be labeled properly. Any special hazards should be indicated on the label. Do not store chemical containers on the floor.
  • For certain classes of compounds (e.g., ethers as peroxide formers), the date the container was opened should be written on the label.
  • Lab users must only wear shoes that cover the foot completely.
  • Store corrosives and liquid chemicals below eye level (4 to 4.5 feet).
  • Used or contaminated needles, syringes, small bore pipettes, slides, lancets, scalpels and razor blades are to be placed in a red sharps container.
  • When leaving the laboratory, avoid spreading contamination by removing at least one glove so there is a free hand to open doors.
  • Clean-up work area and glassware after experimentation is done. Turn off all heating apparatus, gas valves, and water faucets when not in use.

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