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Lab Safety Do’s and Don’ts

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Lab Safety

Although science can be thrilling and amusing, the first thing you should do is to pay attention to the safety practices that go with your laboratory activities. When handling chemicals and glassware or using machinery it is mandatory that you always use protective equipment  So in order to stay safe and healthy while exploring the world of science, here is a list of do’s and don’ts you should always keep in mind…

1. Do use eye protection

Every science lab consists of many dangers that can harm your eyes. These include glassware, caustic chemicals, vapours, open flames, and other dangerous substances. Because of this goggles or safety glasses are mandatory. They will protect your eyes in case of accidents and accidental spills.

2. Do practice fire safety

Science experiments often include Bunsen burners and alcohol lamps. They are necessary for experiments that involve heating, boiling, burning chemicals or other specimens.  Always be careful and keep your hands away from the flames, wear safety glasses, tuck in loose clothing. Also if you have long hair make sure it’s tied up in order to avoid hair-burn.

3. Do practice appropriate lab conduct

Although science can be fun, a laboratory is no place for loose conduct.  This means practical jokes, running through the laboratory, and any exuberant behaviour is out of the question.   Any use of audio and video equipment is also strictly forbidden. Most importantly, never perform any unauthorized experiments.

4. Do handle glassware safety

Always thoroughly wash beakers, test tubes, flasks, and other glassware after use.  By doing this you will eliminate potentially dangerous chemical reactions. This will also ensure that future results will not be contaminated by chemical residue from previous experiments. Also, report and dispose of any broken glass properly because when glass breaks it can leave possible harmful shards.

5. Do practice housekeeping

Your work area always needs to be neet and kept free from unnecessary objects. After the end of every laboratory session thoroughly clean your workspace. Place chemical waste in appropriately labelled waste containers.  Properly dispose of any broken or sharp objects promptly in designated containers. Also, weigh boots, glove, filter paper, and paper towels should also be disposed of after every session. 

6. Do keep notes

Proper laboratory procedures, observations, and instructions should be written in a laboratory notebook. By keeping a lab notebook you will always be able to keep track of data and will also maintain records of experiments and facilitate thinking.

7. Do wear gloves

When handling hazardous material always wear disposable gloves as provided in the laboratory. Hot and cold items should be handled with insulated gloves and during dissections wear latex gloves. Also when working with caustic materials use chemical resistant gloves. Remove the gloves before exiting the laboratory.

8. Don’t eat or drink at the lab

Most people don’t know that just being in the lab makes your hands dirty and in order to avoid eating any reagent avoid eating inside the lab. So, make a habit of eating and drinking before you enter the lab. Food, gum, mints, cough drops and beverages are messy and can get lab equipment dirty, contaminate samples, absorb chemicals and can cause accidents. 

9. Do practice electrical safety

Many experiments require electrical equipment.  Always make sure before plugging in anything that the plug includes a ground prong. Always hold the plug by its insulation cover when plugging or unplugging equipment.  Never pull or tug the cord when trying to unplug. By keeping electrical equipment from water and other liquids you will reduce the risk of shocks and short circuits.

10. Maintain general work procedures

 Learn all emergency procedures like a true professional because you never know what possible hazards are lurking. Experiments should always be performed precisely as directed by your instructor. Any spills, accidents or injuries should immediately be reported to your instructor. When handling hot glassware and apparatus always be careful because hot glassware looks the same as cold. Never forget to make sure that no flammable solvents are in the air when lighting a flame.  If you have any sensitivities to certain chemicals notify your instructor at once.

11. Don’t use excessive force.

 A lot of experiments involve connecting glass tubes to glassware and rubber grommets or plugging glassware with stoppers.  So, never use excessive force because glassware is fragile and can easily chip and break. 

12.  Don’t leave a mess

Try to think of your lab workspace as your home.  This means you should always clean up spills immediately.  Use a paper towel to cover the spill and then wipe it from the outside in, pushing the spill towards the centre of the table. Never push the spills on the floor.and used paper towels should always be disposed in a proper container.  All laboratory equipment, materials, supplies, and workspaces must be cleaned before leaving the lab. All sources of heat like Bunsen burners must be turned off before leaving the lab.

13.  Don’t show up late

Timing is essential in every research lab. If you’re having a lunch break make sure you keep track of time because if you’re late you could miss a critical step in the experiment. Missing crucial steps in experiments can waste precious material and preparation time in the future. 

14. Don’t wear open-toed shoes

Closed-toed shoes are a must in every laboratory.  This is because there is a lot of glassware and chemicals involved and if you drop something your feet will be safe and sound. 

15. Don’t wear shorts

Just like open-toed shoes,  short pants should never be worn in a lab.  Working with exposed skin creates a bigger safety concern due to all the dangerous chemicals and materials. So, act like a  true professional and wear long pants in your laboratory,

 Working in a lab is a big responsibility. Always remember that a laboratory is no place for misconduct and if you follow the rules and proper steps then you will have a future in the wonderful world of science.

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