How can I be safe in a laboratory environment?
One of the first things most people learn about when they get into a field requiring lab work is how to keep themselves safe. Whether you’re a medical student or work in a chemistry laboratory, potential hazards are always present. While being aware of dangers in the lab might seem like preparation enough, there truly is no such thing as being “too safe”. Likewise, no amount of acting safely can discount the need for the proper safety equipment while handling dangerous materials.
If a member of your team refuses to protect themselves they are doing more than putting their own wellbeing at risk – they are also diminishing the productivity of the entire group. Not everyone is going to be equally educated in lab safety, but the following information can be understood and helpful to anyone.
Only Use the Right Equipment
Thousands of laboratory accidents are reported annually, some of which involving severe bodily harm. It’s for this reason that trained professionals work tirelessly to create and test the best safety gear. Safety Goggles, for example, should be located in every lab you find yourself in. The plastic, wide frame design is perfectly suited for keeping hazardous materials from entering your eyes, while still providing the ability to see. Safety goggles should be worn whenever you’re handling liquid, vapors, smoke, or materials that may produce sparks.
Thick plastic gloves are often found in labs, as it is difficult to avoid working with your hands. Ensure that you wash your hands before and after putting the gloves on, and that you have the appropriate gloves for what you will be doing. A protective apron or jacket is also extremely important! Spilling chemicals or blood on one’s person is a very common accident, and can happen to anybody. Tying a single knot or snapping a few buttons could save not only your clothing, but your life.
Utilize the Correct Tools
If you’re going to be working in a laboratory, it is important to know which tools are appropriate for the task at hand. Trying to make do with weaker or less tolerant tools could lead to serious problems while you work. For example, if you plan to work with dangerous and caustic agents, not just any old plastic tubing will suffice. It is necessary to rely on the sturdiness of FEP Tubing or PFA Tubing to get the job done without expecting unwanted accidents. Always be sure to investigate the capability of each tool you use before starting, otherwise it may be too late when you recognize your mistakes.