First, be in the appropriate attire while in the laboratory. Always wear a laboratory coat, masks, gloves, appropriate eye wear and closed shoes. Laboratory coat should be knee length. The essence here is to prevent the chemicals in use from affecting ones clothes. The laboratory coat can also be used as a dust coat. It acts as a barrier to dust, chemicals and harmful substances.
Laboratories dealing with harmful chemicals and sample, such as hospital laboratories and manufacturing factories, require much keenness. Gloves are crucial in such laboratories because they help in handling samples that may be harmful to the skin. For instance, bacterial samples are usually infectious. In such cases, wearing glove is extremely essential. Handling corrosive chemicals such as Sodium hydroxide also require gloves.
Gas masks are paramount when handling fumigants or volatile gasses. Inhaling these gases is potentially harmful to the body. Some chemicals emit fumes that can destroy internal organs. For example, Sulfur (IV) oxide gas is an irritant of the respiratory system. Wearing a mask can reduce the effect of this gas on the respiratory system. In the hospital environment, masks are extremely crucial to the laboratory technicians as well as the doctors. This is because masks block the entry of pathogens into the attendants’ nostrils or mouth. In this way, masks prevent the occurrence of the diseases.
Close and flat shoes are essential as they ease walking. They also reduce the accidents especially, in cases of chemical spillage or broken apparatus such as glasses. Therefore, it is essential to protect your feet with closed shoes. Eyes are equally essential. Wearing eye protective gear, that is, goggles is the best thing. This prevents fumes that may irritate or cause harmful damage to the eye.
Secondly, never eat while in the laboratory. This is harmful to one’s health. Eating here may be a source of infection. This is more dangerous if it is a hospital laboratory than an ordinary laboratory. Such laboratories have potential harmful microbes. Common sense dictates that microbes are omnipresent. In chemical manufacturing laboratories, some chemicals produce fumes that may be adsorbed by food. That means when one is eating food in the labs he/she is also eating the chemicals. Such chemicals may cause serious damage to your digestive system.
Thirdly, operating laboratory equipment requires qualified and experience technicians or technologists. Always ask for help from a qualified person. While operating such equipment, one may destroy them. Keep in mind the cost of such equipment! Accidents may also occur. Poor operation of an autoclave, for instance, may cause serious damage to the building and the users.
A fire extinguisher is a necessary tool in the laboratory. Each laboratory should have at least one. This will help to put out fire that may occur in the laboratory premises. The fire extinguishers should be placed at strategic points, such as the door way. This makes them visible to everyone such that, at the time of fire outbreak, it is easily accessible. All laboratory users should be trained to use it.
Label all the chemicals and samples. This is to avoid confusion and contamination of samples. Many people use laboratories. Therefore, labeling everything is a safety measure. This ensures correct results in each practical done. Mixing of some chemicals may be explosive. Knowing them helps prevent this. An explosive chemical causes serious damage to the equipment buildings and users.
A number of chemicals emit fumes. This could be potentially harmful to humans. How do we avoid this? A fume camber is the solution. This is to contain the effect of the fumes. Fume chambers have chimneys that emit gases to the outside. In this way, the fumes will not be in contact with the laboratory users, thus reducing accidents.
In case of a spillage, the laboratory should be dried. Be it the benches or the floor. Working in a lab with spillages may result to accidents. Some people may slip and fall on the ground. This is dangerous to the human body. Working on a wet bench may contaminate other apparatus thus altering the results. Some chemicals are flammable and while they have spilled they may catch fire. Fire in a lab is even worse.
For people in charge of the laboratories, they must ensure that all the equipment is functioning well. This is to avoid common accidents and make work easier for the laboratory users. Always a manual for all procedures should be provided. A lab manual eases work and at the same time makes the products of the work accurate. This manual should contain common laboratory rules on the first page.
Insuring all laboratory equipment is a good idea. This may cater for the loss in case of an accident. The insurance company must have a good reputation and should provide a good cover for the laboratory equipment. It is also advisable to the laboratory users to insure themselves. This may warrant compensation in case of an accident.
While carrying out experiments in the laboratory, safety should come first.