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10 Safe lab practices in a research laboratory

safe lab practices laboratory safety


Safe lab practices are beneficial in any research laboratory. The researchers have to keep themselves and other persons safe when they are in the laboratory environment. Any mistake in not maintaining safe lab practice could have a terrible impact on people and may be fatal. Some behaviours can be unsafe and can expose your colleagues to danger. Appropriate lab safe practices will help limit hazard exposure and protect all researchers. 

Below is the list of safe lab practices that can keep the researcher safe in a research laboratory.

1. Avoid food or drink in the laboratory.

Eating food in the lab will expose you to hazardous materials. Food can contaminate your experiments. Some food can attract pests to the lab and is very unhealthy in such an environment. Spills from the liquid as your drinking water or juice can cause a slip hazard if not cleaned properly.

2. PPE usage

The laboratory has its lab attire. So, every lab researcher must make use of them. Doing so will encourage everyone to be safe. Safe lab practice has to be seen and practised, and it starts with wearing the necessary PPE the moment you enter the lab for your work. The Various PPE for the Lab are Lab coats, gloves, eye protection etc. These PPE are of different types. Care should be adopted when assigning and distributing them to the users. Lab coats give protection against splash of chemicals, exposure to biological hazards or any toxic substance. Ensure that your safety goggles are of good quality and they can protect your eye well enough from physical, biological and chemical harm. The importance of gloves is to offer protection to your hand, so ensure you put them on when in the laboratory. 

3. Good hygiene

Practice good hygiene in the laboratory. The following good hygiene practice should be encouraged.

  • After eating your food, make sure you wash your hand thoroughly before going back to your work.
  • Separate your items from the work items, and do not mix the two to prevent contamination. 
  • Do not use the lab for any work aside from the functions of that lab. Do not use cosmetics at the lab. Ensure to put them in your bag.
  • Ensure that you maintain skin free of dryness and cracks, as cracked and dried skin can easily lead to exposure of your skin to damage.

4. Proper Storage containers.

Ensure you store all chemicals in a container that will not react with it. Some chemicals can react with some containers. When this happens, it will compromise the container. Store flammable chemicals in fire-rated containers. Chemicals that violently react when mixed should be stored separately. Store acids and caustics properly in separate cabinets in the lab

5. Label all your containers

Label all containers in the laboratory with their names on them. It will make you know the content in the container and the likely hazard associated with the substance. The labelling should bear the hazard present in the chemical. 

6. Prevent lone working.

Working alone has its dangers. In the case of an emergency, a lone worker will find it difficult to get help. So, when working as a team, other members can find support easily for each other during an emergency. When you work with other researchers, they can help you with hazards you may not see as an individual. 

7. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Always be aware of your surroundings and at different places in the lab. Safe lab practices ensure that you work purposely without distractions and remain focused on being safe. When you work with a hazardous chemical, ensure that you maintain a safe lab practice in handling the chemical to prevent harm.

8. Do not use a headphone

Headphones can be a sort of distraction to you. Avoid using them when working in the laboratory. It occupies one of your five senses and makes you prone to the risk of harm because of distraction. Not using the headphone will enable you to hear what is happening around you and make you aware of any emergency when it happens.

9. Safety awareness for all 

Ensures that everyone in the lab environment is aware of safe lab practice and has a programme of training and talks to bring everyone on the same page on safety. Ensure that all people are familiar with and know how to use them safely.

Engage the researchers in emergency response and rescue training and provide all the necessary first aid items in the lab. Do regular emergency drills to test the readiness of the emergency response in the lab

10. Safe use of batteries

Most lab equipment uses Lithium-ion and lead acid batteries. The batteries can pose a danger as a potential ignition source and can cause chemical burns to persons. They should be carefully handled and disposed of to prevent risk to persons. Most times, it’s okay to recycle the batteries instead of dumping them in the waste. 

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