Are you ready to work in a science laboratory? Laboratories are inherently dangerous places, with hazardous chemicals, perilous procedures, and fire hazards. If you want to stay safe in a laboratory, you must adhere to laboratory safety rules.
1. Follow instructions
It is the most important rule. Whether you are using a method in a book or listening to your lab instructor, make sure you pay attention and familiarize with all the steps before you begin. In case anything is unclear or you have a few queries, make sure they are answered before starting. Understand how to use all laboratory equipment.
2. Dress for the lab
Your clothing is the first line of defense against accidents. When working in a lab, keep your hair up, put on long pants and wear covered shoes. Ensure you have the essential protective gear such as safety goggles and a lab coat. You might also require hearing aids, gloves, ear muffs and any other items as per the nature of your experimentation.
3. Dispose of lab waste appropriately
It is crucial to understand what you should do after you finish the experiment. Before you start working, take time to figure out the end products and how you will dispose of them. Never leave your mess for the next user to clear. If you are dealing with biological cultures, remember to autoclave them so that you can denature the dangerous organisms. As for hazardous chemicals that can’t be washed down the drain, have a plan on where to dispose them. Sharp objects like broken glassware and needles should be thrown in a separate container to avoid hurting others.
4. Never drink or eat in the lab
Save your drinking and snacking for your breaks. Do not store your foodstuff in the same cabinet or refrigerator where you store cultures, chemicals or laboratory experiments. There is a high risk of food contamination inside a laboratory. Keeping drinks in the laboratory could also risk your research because of spills. Drinking and eating is also a form of distraction. If you eat when working, the odds are that you will not concentrate on your work.
5. Learn what to do in case of accidents
Regardless of how hard you try to prevent accidents, they might happen. The best thing is to have a plan on what you will do in such an instance. Most labs have outlined a program that is to be followed in the event of a catastrophe, so follow the rules. One important rule is to alert the supervisor of any accidents or near misses. Never lie or attempt to cover it up. When you report the incident, you will not only get out of trouble but will also ensure the safety of other laboratory users.