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10 Laboratory Safety Rules You Need to Know

Many accidents occur in testing laboratories. It’s essential you follow these 10 laboratory safety rules to keep your work environment risk-free.

3 mins readNovember 13, 2019

Safety Rules in Testing Laboratories: Start Here

It is essential for everyone working in a testing laboratory to follow the laboratory safety rules. Labs are inherently hazardous environments, between the toxic chemicals to risks of fires, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Keep these guidelines in mind to keep you and your team safe and avoid any unfortunate mishaps.

1. Follow the instructions of your lab supervisor

It’s essential to pay attention to your lab supervisor and follow given instructions regarding the experiment.

Make sure you ask all relevant questions before starting the test so that you can handle the procedure with peace of mind.

This step is crucial because if you do not follow instructions you may endanger yourself or others present in the laboratory.

It's important to pay attention, listen, and familiarize yourself with all the instructions provided by your lab supervisor. Before beginning, clarify any points you are unsure about or address any queries you may have, especially if they relate to a step that comes later in the process.

Before you start, be familiar with how to utilize every piece of lab equipment.

Why is this the most crucial principle? If you disregard it:

  1. In the lab, you put yourself and others in danger.

  2. Your experiment might be easily ruined.

  3. You increase the possibility of a lab accident, which could result in both property damage and human injury.

  4. You might be let go or fired.

Lab supervisor

2. Handle all equipment properly

It’s very important to keep all the laboratory equipment in the right place and understand how to use them correctly. While working in the laboratory, you should also review lab safety signs and check them before starting the experiment.

Lab safety symbols and health hazard indicators must be shown everywhere in the workplace in order to maintain a secure environment, prevent health risks, and prevent flammable mishaps.

Check out MyNewLab's downloadable guide on Science Safety Symbols in a Laboratory.

3. Follow the dress code in labs

While working in the laboratory, don’t forget to wear your lab coat. You should also wear covered shoes, loose clothing, long pants, and, if you have long hair, make sure it’s tied back.

You need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as well if required. Required PPE includes:

  1. Attire: Put long hair in a bun and wear long slacks or skirts with closed-toed shoes. Wearing shorts, short skirts, sandals, baggy apparel, or jewelry that hangs loose is prohibited.

  1. Lab coat: Put on an arm-covering lab coat.

  1. Gloves: In the lab, put on the proper gloves at all times, and take them off before leaving. Never touch common exterior surfaces with gloves, such as door handles, elevator buttons, or mobile devices. Make sure you're using the right kind of gloves when working with very poisonous or corrosive chemicals.

  1. Eye protection: Wear safety glasses with side shields for eye protection. Wear full-coverage goggles or a face mask while handling substances that could splatter or cause eye harm.
Lab man

4. Leave food and drinks in the break room

You should never eat or drink food or beverages in the laboratory. Avoid keeping your food items in the same refrigerator where you keep chemicals or any experimental materials if not. It could easily lead to cross-contamination with chemicals or pathogens.

You’re not just risking your health, but the validity of your experiments. You could easily spill food or drinks, ruining all your hard work.

Food and drink in the laboratory can also be a distraction or others and lead to mistakes.

5. Electrical safety rules must be followed

Electronic equipment can be found in almost every laboratory. Ensure you comply with electrical safety rules whenever you are in the lab to avoid accidents.

  • Report any faulty or damaged equipment to your supervisor so it can be replaced.

  • Make sure you’ve been trained on how to use high voltage equipment.

  • Never change or modify high voltage equipment.

  • The high voltage power supply must be turned off when you are not using it.

  • Don’t use extension cords as they can cause a tripping hazard.

  • Make sure electrical panels easily accessible.

Lab electronic equipment

6. Laser Safety rules are key

There are some labs that use lasers. If you are in one, it is very important to conform to laser safety rules so keep yourself safe from any damage or injury. It is important to set proper rules for the use of lasers to help everyone know about the hazards.

  • You should never look into a laser beam even if you think it is safe to do so.

  • Do not keep your head at the same level as the laser beam.

  • Keep the laser beam at or below your chest level.

  • Avoid walking through a laser beam.

  • Wear goggles when working near a laser. Injuries can be caused by scattered laser light that reflects shiny surfaces.

7. Dispose of lab waste properly

Clean up after carrying out your experiment and return all the materials and equipment used to the appropriate place. Ensure the lab is clean and dispose of any waste, especially chemical waste properly.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act governs chemical waste and is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (RCRA). It cannot be thrown away in the standard trash or sewer system.

The EHS Hazardous Waste Program is required for the proper disposal of the majority of chemical wastes.

Make the following preparations to having hazardous material removed from your lab:

1.__ Keep chemical wastes in the proper containers__; when compatibility is not an issue, plastic bottles are preferable over glass for the storage of hazardous waste. Sort chemical waste by compatibility rather than alphabetical order.

  1. Containers for chemical waste must be marked with the following information:
  • Complete chemical name and waste quantity.
  • The time when the garbage was generated; the location (department, room number);
  • Name and phone number of the PI;
  • Bottle number assigned to associated waste sheet; "Hazardous Waste" tag or label required.
  1. Deliver a completed Hazardous Waste Information Form to the EHS office (Instructions are on the back of the form). You must list the following:
  • The whole chemical name and amount of waste on this form.
  • The time when garbage was produced;
  • The origin's department and room number;
  • Name and phone number of the PI;
  • A contact name is necessary;
  • A speedtype or account number, as well as the bottle number (given on the bottle in numerical sequence).
  1. Send the finished document to the Environmental Health and Safety Office, located on the first level of the Service Building, location code 7227. Before Tuesday at noon, EHS must receive the form. The evacuation of chemical waste will thereafter take place on Thursday of that week.

  2. Only with formal authorization from EHS is it permissible to dispose of chemicals down a sanitary sewer. For additional information, get in touch with the director or chemical waste manager.

Lab waste

8. Keep an updated accident response protocol

Of course, you should always try to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place, but you also need to be prepared in case one does happen. If an accident does happen:

  • Immediately report the situation to your supervisor immediately.

  • If anyone is injured, burned or exposure to chemicals while working in the lab, get medical help right away.

  • Always make sure there are working fire extinguishers, safety showers, and eyewash stations.

9. Keep the experiments in the lab

Always keep experiments and equipment in the lab, they should not be taken home. Leaving the laboratory with experiments could expose others to dangerous chemicals or pathogens and compromise the integrity of your work.

10. Have the right insurance

Getting insurance for testing laboratories is necessary to ensure coverage against claims from bodily injury, equipment/property damage and personal injury in the lab. Here are the basic policies you should consider:

  • Errors & Omissions (E&O): This policy will protect your lab against associated with mistakes that are made in lab tests

  • General Liability: This policy is necessary to protect your lab against claims of property damage or bodily injury to third-party individuals

  • Commercial Property: As the name suggests, this policy will cover damage to property or equipment in the lab.

  • Workers Compensation: This policy covers medical expenses for employees who are injured or get sick at work.

  • Pollution Liability: This policy can cover the costs associated with cleaning up any hazardous material that leaks outside the lab or causes bodily injury or property damage to nearby residents.

Working in a lab can offer a fun and exciting career, but it also comes with several risks. Make sure you minimize these hazards by following the safety guidelines above.

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