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Laboratory Safety Awareness

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Laboratory Safety Awareness

Laboratory safety practices include appropriate facilities and equipment, adequate training, personal protective equipment, chemical management, standard operating procedures, waste handling, signage, proper laboratory practices and safe working conditions. A basic understanding of the prevention of laboratory accidents is essential for the safety of students, faculty, and/or employees working in laboratories.

Safety and Emergency Procedures
  • Educate students on the location and use of all safety and emergency equipment prior to laboratory activity.
  • Identify safety procedures to follow in the event of an emergency/accident.
  • Provide students with verbal and written safety procedures to follow in the event of an emergency/accident.
  • Know the location of and how to use the cut-off switches and valves for the water, gas, and electricity in the laboratory.
  • Know the location of and how to use all safety and emergency equipment (i.e., safety shower, eyewash, first-aid kit, fire blanket, fire extinguishers and mercury spill kits).
    Lab Beaker
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone.
  • Conduct appropriate safety and evacuation drills on a regular basis.
  • Explain in detail to students the consequences of violating safety rules and procedures.
All laboratories are required to have:
  • A written, laboratory specific emergency plan
  • Materials to adequately contain and clean up a spill (spill kit)
  • Documented laboratory-specific training in Lab Safety Training for all personnel. The responsibility for ensuring this training is performed rests with the Principal Investigator (PI). If requested, RMSS will assist in devising a training curriculum to meet all safety and regulatory requirements.
Preparing for Laboratory Activities
  • Before each activity in the laboratory, weigh the potential risk factors against the educational value.
  • Understand all the potential hazards of the materials, the process, and the equipment involved in every laboratory activity.
  • Inspect all equipment/apparatus in the laboratory before use.
  • Before entering the laboratory, instruct students on all laboratory procedures that will be conducted.
  • Discuss all safety concerns and potential hazards related to the laboratory work that students will be performing before starting the work. Document in lesson plan book.
Housekeeping Safety Rules

Laboratory bench tops and other work surfaces must provide enough space to safely execute procedures. Aisles and egress routes must be clear to allow for prompt evacuation in the event of a spill, fire, or other emergency.

  1. Always keep your work area(s) tidy and clean. 
  2. Make sure that all eye wash stations, emergency showers, fire extinguishers, and exits are always unobstructed and accessible. 
  3. Only materials you require for your work should be kept in your work area. Everything else should be stored safely out of the way.
  4. Only lightweight items should be stored on top of cabinets; heavier items should always be kept at the bottom.
  5. Solids should always be kept out of the laboratory sink. 
  6. Any equipment that requires air flow or ventilation to prevent overheating should always be kept clear. 
Hygiene Practices
Hand Washing
  • Keep your hands away from your face, eyes, mouth, and body while using chemicals.
  • Food and drink, open or closed, should never be brought into the laboratory or chemical storage area.
  • Never use laboratory glassware for eating or drinking purposes.
  • Do not apply cosmetics while in the laboratory or storage area.
  • Wash hands after removing gloves, and before leaving the laboratory.
  • Remove any protective equipment (i.e., gloves, lab coat or apron, chemical splash goggles) before leaving the laboratory.

These practices are designed to help ensure safety for the laboratory workers and compliance with regulations and policies governing laboratory use of chemicals, biological materials, and radioactive materials. Know and follow University laboratory safety policy, procedures, and practices. These basic rules provide behavior, hygiene, and safety information to avoid accidents in the laboratory.