Lab work and experimentation are essential for scientific progression. By methodically testing hypotheses and analyzing empirical results, we learn more about our world and can produce solutions to agricultural, medical, and industrial problems. However, labs can be dangerous places to work. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of lab safety and how you can maintain best practices within a laboratory setting.
Why Is Lab Safety Important?
No matter what industry you work in, if you’re working with hazardous chemicals, you need to know how to operate safely in a laboratory setting. Without the proper safety precautions, these chemicals can pose a legitimate risk to the health and safety of those working in the lab. Chemical spills, burns, fires, and toxic fumes can make working in a lab hazardous. Failure to abide by lab safety rules can result in employee injuries, facility damages, and legal issues.
Fortunately, with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), safety procedures, and laboratory equipment, you can ensure your lab is as safe as possible.
Essential Chemical Lab Safety Equipment and Attire
Before you begin to work with any hazardous chemicals, you need to make sure that you have all of the proper equipment and attire easily accessible to prevent unnecessary hazards. In case of emergency, these essential tools can protect you from hazards such as chemical splashes, explosions, or the inhalation of harmful gasses.
Laboratory Safety Attire
Dressing appropriately for a lab setting is essential. To protect yourself, you need to wear the following every time you enter the lab:
Lab coat – Wearing a lab coat with sleeves rolled down prevents chemicals from contacting your skin. This is essential for protecting against spills, splashes, and open flames.
Closed-toed shoes – Close-toed shoes prevent hazardous materials from touching your feet. They also reduce the risk of injury from falling materials.
Long Pants – Shorts and skirts expose large areas of skin to hazards. Wearing long pants protects your legs from chemicals as well.
Safety goggles – Safety goggles are essential for working in the lab. They protect you from chemical splashes and also protect your eyes from drying elements and vapors. Regular eyeglasses aren’t designed to withstand a wide range of chemicals, so it’s recommended that you wear goggles over them.
Safety gloves – Lab work is exceptionally tactile. Because you often work with your hands, you need to protect them from harsh chemicals and flames. There are many types of gloves designed to protect you from different chemicals, so make sure you wear the right ones.
There are a few more elements that are important to lab safety attire that you need to keep in mind when working in the lab. If you have long hair, make sure you tie it back. Many labs work with Bunsen burners, which have open flames that can light loose hair on fire. You should also remove watches and jewelry before you enter the lab. These accessories can get in the way of your work and may also react to certain chemicals, so it’s best to leave them at the door.
Axiom Products understands that every industry has different safety precautions and requires different chemical handling equipment. That’s why we provide custom safety solutions to a wide range of industries and applications.
PPE does a lot to protect individual lab workers, but it isn’t the only thing important to lab safety. You also need the proper chemical lab safety equipment to maintain a safe lab environment. Here are some of the most important pieces of equipment you need to have to stay safe in a lab setting:
First aid kit – First aid kids are essential for minor injuries like burns or cuts. They should be fully stocked with bandages, gauze, gloves, and more.
Eye wash station – If chemicals do make their way into your eyes, you need to have an eye wash station available to flush them out. Eye wash stations should be clearly marked and accessible within the lab.
Fire blanket and fire extinguisher – In case of fire, fire blankets and extinguishers need to be available to put them out. Although fire extinguishers can put out some fires, they may exacerbate others. In these cases, fire blankets can cut off oxygen from the flames and smother the fire.
Safety shower – In case of a chemical spill, safety showers can rinse chemicals off your body.
Fume hood – Fume hoods are extremely important to lab safety when working with toxic fumes and harmful gases. This equipment wicks air up and away, preventing you from inhaling potentially dangerous fumes.
Chemical Safety Precautions for Spills and Accidents
Knowing how to react to spills, fires, and other accidents is extremely important to lab safety. Mistakes happen sometimes, but you must know how to respond to them effectively to prevent injuries and damage.
Before engaging in any laboratory work, you should review the safety data sheets for all the chemicals you will be handling. Safety data sheets inform you of hazards, protective measures, and how to safely store, handle, and transport each chemical. They contain essential information for lab safety.
Hazard communication is key to navigating the issue safely if you encounter a spill or accident. Stay calm and alert those around you that there has been an accident. You should never touch or smell the substance if something is spilled, as it could be potentially dangerous.
If you get any chemicals on your clothing, remove them and flush the underlying skin thoroughly with water. If any substances make contact with your eyes, go immediately to the eye wash station and rinse for 20 minutes.
If you spill a small amount of chemicals and know what it is, you can clean it up using information gleaned from the chemical’s safety data sheet. For example, you can neutralize small acidic spills with baking soda, a weak basic compound. If you spill a large amount of chemicals, you must evacuate the lab and contact emergency personnel immediately.
Stay Safe With Axiom Products
At Axiom Products, we understand the importance of lab safety. That’s why we strive to be your go-to provider of chemical safety products. Explore our full line of safety equipment and see how we can help you improve your lab safety.
Contact us today to learn more about chemical lab safety equipment and precautions.