Running and maintaining a lab is no simple challenge. With all of the tasks and specs to worry about, the health and safety of staff can easily be overlooked, or forgotten. Everyone's safety is important, but these issues are especially of concern when medical patients or customers rely on the assurance of a lab to maintain proper safety standards.
Laboratory Safety Issues
What are the most common lab safety problems?
- Never store or consume food or drinks in labs where hazardous materials are used. This goes for keeping your lunch, snacks and sodas in refrigerators made for chemicals.
- Safety Eyewashes should be cleaned and flushed weekly. Always document the date of last maintenance on eyewash tags.
- Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when working in labs where hazardous materials are present. Never wear shorts or open-toed shoes in labs.
- Remove clutter and practice good housekeeping. Keep exits and aisles clear. Eliminate extension cords and power strips in series.
- Have the appropriate spill supplies available, and follow proper response procedures when spills occur.
- Maintain labels on chemical containers received from manufacturers and label secondary containers. Replace old and deteriorated labels. Segregate chemicals properly. Store acids in an acid cabinet or in a plastic container. Store nitric and other corrosive acids separately. Dispose of unwanted chemicals properly.
- Label chemical waste with specific contents. Keep waste tag attached to each specific waste container at all times. Keep chemical waste containers closed (do not forget to remove the funnel).
- Chemical fume hood sashes should be kept closed whenever possible. Maintain the minimum possible opening when working. Limit storage in hoods to essential items only.
- Always use a temperature monitoring system to ensure that volatile chemicals stay within their safe ranges. Also, items that will be used, such as vaccines, should be kept within their safe temperature ranges so they do not go bad.
- Always secure gas cylinders properly. Also always keep safety caps on gas cylinders when not in use.