Labs are always fun to be in. Getting some hands-on experience in what you have only studied theoretically all along is fun indeed! However, experiments carried out in the laboratory can turn from fun to ghastly within a matter of a few seconds, if you do not take adequate precautions and the right safety measures into account.
In reality, lab safety entails keeping not just the people safe but also protecting the laboratory equipments from getting damaged due to reckless use. Here are a few elementary lab safety tips that can make working in the laboratory a pleasant and uneventful experience for you:
- Grounding electrical equipment
Laboratory experiments often involve the use of electrical equipments that draw huge magnitudes of voltages. It is your responsibility to ensure that any such equipment you are to come in contact with is properly grounded so as to eliminate the possibility of getting electrocuted. You must avoid the use of extension cords with any equipment altogether—even more so, with the heavy power drawing devices owing to their increased risk of starting a fire or burning out.
- Storing Chemicals in a Ventilated, Secure Setting
Ensure that the laboratory you are working in has a dedicated space just to house all the chemicals safely and securely. It is very important that the chemicals be kept in a well-ventilated setting with the ventilation being at least 150 cubic feet per minute. Moreover, ensure that the cabinet you keep all flammable chemicals in is a fireproof one. Having a gated access to the chemical storehouse also reduces the occurrences of thefts.
- Labelling Chemicals Properly
A large number of accidents that take place in laboratories arise because of the use of the wrong set of chemicals. Chemicals having similar names can differ greatly in their properties and wreak havoc if used with the wrong combination of chemicals. Make sure that all the chemical bottles are labelled correctly. Use a waterproof marker for labelling the chemical bottles for the labels to remain undeterred even on exposure to moisture.
- Using Adequate Safety Gear
It goes without saying that entering a laboratory without being dressed in proper safety gear is an act of irresponsibility of the highest order. Anyone not having all the mandatory safety gear must not be allowed to enter the laboratory. Keep emergency eye wash and safety showers in close proximity and do not allow people not wearing lab coats to work.
- Keeping First Aid Supply in Close Proximity
Every laboratory should imperatively have at least one first aid kit complete in every respect. Accidents are commonplace in laboratory settings; sterile gauze’s, ice packs, analgesics, band aids and other emergency pain relievers et al can definitely come to your rescue!
- Staying Safe from Lasers
You must never look at any laser beam for prolonged durations. Lasers can leave your eyes damaged, period. If you are required to work around laser emitting equipments then you must wear safety glasses at all times since laser scattered off the edges of various objects too can harm your eyes as seriously as can directly looking at the beam.
- Staying safe from Mechanical Equipment
If you are using a machine driven by compressed air, do make sure that the machine uses a good-quality nozzle to regulate the flow of air. You must be careful around heavy-duty machinery driven pneumatically of hydraulically; unexpected movement might leave you gravely injured.
In addition to the aforementioned, you must always be alert and aware of your surrounding and let your mind be driven by common sense on all occasions!