Laboratory is a place, room or building equipped for scientific experiments, used for research, or teaching, or for the manufacture of drugs, chemicals, etc. All these activities combined with the materials and equipment used in the lab poses so much risk; from minor spillage to explosion. This is why the regulatory bodies has develop Lab Safety Rules in-which if followed will greatly reduce the probability of accident occurring in the lab.
Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including:
Exposure to harmful chemical:
Examples are: Nitrites, Permanganates, Chlorates, Perchlorates, Iodates, Periodates, Nitric acid, Perchloric acid, Hydrogen peroxide, Periodic acid, Chromic acid, Methanol, Ethanol, Acetone, Xylene, Toluene, Triethylamine, Diethylamine, TEMED, Ethylaminediamine,
Trimethylamine solution, Pyrrolidine, Morpholine, Cyclohexylamine, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Ethanolamine, Tributylamine, Acetic acid (>80%), Acetic anhydride, Formic acid (>85%), etc.
Exposure to biological agents
Examples includes: Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, prions, protozoa
Exposure to physical hazards
Examples includes: Heat, Compressed gases, Electromagnetic fields, Explosiveness, Flammable aerosols, Flammable gases, Noise, Radiation, Sharps, Fire, Lasers, UV light, etc.
Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. So in Laboratory safety, the first way to manage these numerous hazards is to recognize them.
NOTE: You cannot manage what you do not know.
These hazards if exposed to them could result to very severe health or environmental problems, this is why lab safety is very important to all researcher and lab staffs and everyone one working in or around the Lab.
When we talk about Lab Safety, we are talking about the set of guidelines, procedures, regulations and plans which are put together to reduce exposure to Laboratory hazards. In the next paragraph, I will enumerate 27 Important lab safety rules, lets go.
27 Important Lab Safety Rules
- Before you start any experiment, make sure you are fully aware of the hazards of the materials you will be using.
- Do not use any lab equipment if you are not trained to do so
- Maintain concentration to avoid either spillage or swallowing of toxic chemicals.
- All chemicals must be adequately labelled and stored
- Emergency plan should be put in place in case of any eventuality. This will include ensuring the workability of the emergency equipment.
- Wear sensible clothing including footwear. Loose clothing should be secured so that they do not get caught in a flame or chemicals.
- Do not taste or smell chemicals.
- Never pour chemicals that have been used back into the stock container.
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from fumes and effervescence when heating substances, dissecting, etc.
- Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) should be developed which will addresses the specific hazards found in a location, and approach to manage the hazards.
- Do not adopt un-tested and unauthorized experimental procedure.
- Never look into a test tube while you are heating it.
- Never undertake unauthorized experimentation
- Never scatter your work-station. Keep it clean and tidy always
- Clean up every chemical spill
- Laboratory induction should be carried out for everyone working/researching in the lab. They should know the location of the emergency exit, fire alarm switch, fire extinguisher, etc.
- Never point a test tube being heated at another person or yourself.
- Never fool around inside the lab; avoid pranks and horse-play as much as possible.
- Never store edible items in the refrigerator used for storage of lab chemicals and specimens.
- In the event of a chemical splashing into your eyes or on your skin, immediately flush the affected areas with running water for at least 20 minutes.
- If you notice any unsafe conditions in the lab, let your supervisor know as soon as possible.
- Do not eat in the lab
- When using lab equipment and chemicals, be sure to keep your hands away from your body, mouth, eyes, and face.
- Make sure you wash your hand thoroughly after research.
- Never leave heated substances unattended to. Also never leave an ongoing experiment unattended to.
- Use personal protective equipment where necessary like your nose cover, hand gloves, eye goggle, face shield, etc.
- Lab areas containing carcinogens, radioisotopes, biohazards, and lasers should be properly marked with the appropriate warning signs.
The above Lab Safety precautions are important for a successful research in the lab and other activities in the Lab
There may be other specific laboratory rules, please follow them religiously to ensure a successful completion of any research.