It is important to ensure that lab safety is maintained at all times, whether it is at a school lab or professional laboratory. Lab accidents can be very dangerous and can even prove to be fatal so those working there must make sure that they know all the rules and regulations to uphold the best quality in lab safety.
1. Following procedure or instructions
The operations carried out in the labs can be dangerous and it is important to ensure that you take all safety precautions while working. This is important for personal safety as well as the safety of those in the vicinity. It is important to follow the proper procedure and instructions when performing any lab tasks. Trying to carry out experiments or trying out innovations should only be carried out by authorized personnel and even then only under the strictest conditions. It is often due to people who failed to follow procedures who have started many lab fires.
2. Safety gear
When working in a laboratory, it is important to dress appropriately. Depending on the kind of lab, there are always special clothing items worn for an individual’s safety. Lab coats and safety eyewear are basic lab gear and apart from offering protection, the clothing helps to distinguish those working in the lab, which is important. Other clothing items like hats, bags and coats should not be brought into the lab. Leave personal items in another room before you go to the lab. This will help to prevent contamination and other incidents. Bags and cases should never be placed on the lab floor as these can obstruct movement and cause accidents.
3. Emergency equipment
Every person working in the lab must know the location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers. You must also know how to operate the equipment in case of a fire. Learning how to use the equipment should be part of initial training for those working in the lab. It is important to ensure that the equipment is inspected regularly to make sure it is operational. Everyone in the lab should also know where first aid boxes are located, as well as wash points for the eyes. These are very useful to ensure that harmful incidents are averted.
4. Safety zones
Every lab must have safety zones like fume cupboards or bio-safety cabinets, for conducting projects involving the use of toxic chemicals or production of toxic fumes. These areas help to ensure that contamination is restricted and those working in the lab are protected. All hazardous operations must be carried out under strict safety conditions and a safety screen should be used when using containers that are pressurized or under vacuum.
5. Right apparatus
It is also important to use the right apparatus when working in the laboratory. You should never use equipment for tasks other than those recommended. When working with flammable materials, you should always make sure that you use closed vessels. The materials that include ether, alcohol or acetone, should be heated in water baths, electric heating mantles and other safety systems. You should always use a pipette filler when drawing solutions. All containers that have chemicals should be clearly labeled to make sure that everyone being exposed to them knows what they contain. Ongoing lab work unattended for any length of time is hazardous. Monitor experiments at all times too.
6. Clearing work area
When you have completed the work you were doing, make sure that you clear the work area. Make sure the sinks are clear and water vacuum pumps have been turned off. Solid waste should not be left in the sinks. Rinse off all the containers before they go in for cleaning. This will help to prevent the glassware and apparatus from damage. Any spillage should be mopped up as soon as it happens, and chemical spillage may need to be reported to the relevant authorities. The work area, both the floor and the benches, should be left clean and dry at the end of the day.
7. Proper waste disposal
It is important to dispose of all chemicals, broken glass and other waste products carefully. There are always safety procedures that govern waste disposal. Solid matter or solvents should never be poured down the sink as they can cause blockage and other hazards. Most labs will usually have bins or buckets where biological tissue is placed. It is important not to place the biological tissue in the same bin with the rest of the waste. All the waste that requires special disposal should be placed in the specific bins or containers that have been allocated.
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