Lab Safety 101: Health & Safety Resource For Students
On going attention and reinforcement of safety procedures is required when working in the lab for any reason. Without the right precaution taken, there’s the significant risk of endangering yourself and others around you.
It is a legal requirement to adhere with health and safety practices at all times in the laboratory and the following measures should always be taken.
Chemicals or objects in the laboratory can easily damage your eyes and as such, eye protection should be worn at all times. Safety goggle or glasses are compulsory.
The laboratory coat is designed to protect your clothing and skin. This is from chemicals that could splash nearby. There is also the option of an apron, which can be worn on top to further protect from corrosive and irritating chemicals.
When handling potentially harmful chemicals it’s important to wear protective gloves, to minimise the risk of injury. Check to ensure the gloves are in a good condition and free from holes, rips and tears.
Laboratory Safety Equipment
As well as the various protective clothing you should wear in a laboratory, there is also specialist equipment available to ensure utmost safety.
Such equipment would include, but is not limited to:
Chemical Storage Units
Hazardous chemicals should only be kept in small quantities to reduce the risk of problems occurring. This includes flammable and corrosive substances. It’s equally important to return chemicals to their storage area as quickly as possible
Fire Safety Equipment
Before working in the laboratory you should familiarise yourself with the location of fire alarms and extinguishers. Ensure you’re aware of an extinguisher’s correct use and only apply if the fire is manageable. If this isn’t the case, leave the area immediately and trigger an alarm.
One of the greatest causes of accidents occurring in the laboratory is the poor use and handling of glassware. Incorrect use can lead to injury, so it’s important to be well briefed before commencing with your project.
These are present in every laboratory and ensure you can quickly and easily rinse chemicals from your eyes if need be. Eyewash line should also be available and is of real importance, as water could push chemicals further into the eye.
First Aid & Emergency Procedures
When operating in any laboratory it’s vital to have a basic understanding of first aid, whilst also being aware of the correct emergency procedures to follow in the event of an accident.
Treatment Of Wounds
For wounds it’s important to clean and cover the area quickly to avoid contamination.
- Cleanse the wound with water and apply a sterile pad
- Maintain pressure to control bleeding
- Raise the wounded area above the heart if bleeding doesn’t stop
- Once bleeding has been controlled, use a dressing plaster.
Treatment Of Burns
Burns are characterised as first degree, second degree and third degree. First degree burns are less serious and third degree burns the most severe, but all must be treated adequately to prevent lasting damage.
First degree burns will cause discoloration to the skin and lead to mild swelling. If burned, rinse the area for at least 10 minutes under cold water and apply skin cream. Further medical assistance can be sought if required.
Second and third degree burns are more serious and can cause permanent scarring and blisters. To reduce skin damage, immediately rinse the area for at least 15 minutes and contact medical help. Do not apply ointment or creams.