Working in a chemistry lab is a hands-on experience that is accompanied by various hazards. Certain risks are associated with the laboratory environment and the physical manipulation of materials while others may be introduced by the use of a particular substance. Safety is ALWAYS the most important consideration for any laboratory activity. You are expected to minimize, control, and/or manage the hazards of working in a laboratory and handling chemicals by adhering to the safety practices described in the following guidelines.
General Guidelines for Laboratory Safety
1. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner and carefully follow all written and verbal instructions. If you are uncertain about how to proceed, ask your instructor. Horseplay is strictly forbidden.
2. Prepare for lab work by carefully reading all assigned background material and procedures before entering the laboratory. Perform only the experiments and procedures assigned by your instructor. Think carefully about each action you take, and use your common sense at all times!
3. Never work alone in a laboratory. Should an accident occur, it is imperative that help is nearby.
4. Never eat or drink anything in the laboratory.
5. Never apply cosmetics, handle contact lenses, or use a cell phone in the laboratory.
6. Always wear shoes that completely cover your feet. Exposed or bare feet are not allowed in the lab!
7. Your clothing should cover your body from your shoulders to your knees. Do not wear loose or baggy clothing. You may wear a laboratory coat if you wish.
8. Long hair and any dangling jewelry should be secured before working in the laboratory.
9. Examine glassware before each use. Never use dirty, cracked, or chipped glassware.
10. Exercise caution with fire and other heat sources. Never leave an open flame or heated material unattended. Ensure that the area is free of flammable materials before lighting a flame.
11. When heating a test tube or other container, ensure that the open end is pointed away from yourself and others.
12. Remember that objects usually look the same whether they are hot or cold. Check the temperature of glassware, hot plates, and other materials before picking them up. Use tongs or a hot mitt if it is necessary to move a hot object.
13. Be cautious of hazards associated with laboratory equipment, including UV lamps, lasers, radiation sources, and sharp implements.
14. Maintain a clean and orderly workspace. Be sure to clean up any spilled or extraneous materials in your workspace and any other areas you worked in (e.g., around the balances or in the instrument room).
General Guidelines for Handling Chemicals
In general, there are two major categories of chemical hazards: physical and health. Physical hazards are potential dangers to your physical safety posed by a chemical. For example, many organic chemicals are flammable and therefore increase the risk of fire in the laboratory. Health hazards are associated with acute or chronic biological conditions that potentially result from exposure to a chemical. Ingestion of lead, for example, is known to cause developmental delays and memory loss.
1.Be aware of the hazards associated with each chemical you use, and follow any recommended special handling practices.
2. Always wear proper personal protective equipment, including proper attire, chemical splash goggles, and disposable gloves when advisable. Always remove gloves and wash your hands before exiting the laboratory.
3. Always double-check the label to ensure that you are using the appropriate chemical and the appropriate concentration.
4. Remove only the quantity of chemical necessary to achieve the task from the original container. Securely replace the cap as soon as you have removed the chemical from the container.
5. Always use a scoop or spatula to remove solids from a container. Never handle chemicals with your hands.
6. Never return unused chemicals to the original container.
7. Dispose of all chemicals in the appropriate waste container, as directed by your instructor.
8. Ensure that all containers of chemicals are properly labeled with information regarding the contents and associated hazards.
9. Keep chemicals under the fume hood or within another properly ventilated space as instructed. When working in a fume hood, the materials should be placed at least six inches from the front sash of the hood.
10. When transporting a chemical, always hold the container securely with two hands, and proceed slowly and carefully around the laboratory.
11. While working with chemicals, do not touch your face, eyes, mouth, nose, hair, other body parts, or personal items such as a cell phone. Wash your hands after completing your work and before leaving the laboratory.
12. Never taste or smell a chemical by holding it directly under your nose to inhale the vapors. If necessary, you will be instructed on the proper technique for smelling a chemical.
13. If it is necessary to mix acid and water, be sure to slowly add the acid to the necessary quantity of water. Never add water directly to an acid, which can lead to splattering.
Accidents and Emergencies
1. All spills and accidents should be immediately reported to the instructor.
2. Know the location and operation of all emergency exits and equipment, including: first aid kits, eyewash stations, safety showers, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire blankets. Know the phone numbers for emergency services (which are posted in the laboratory).
3. All broken glass should be disposed of in a properly labeled container, not the trash can. Do not pick up broken glassware with your hands. Use a broom and dustpan to retrieve the pieces of glass.
4. If a chemical splashes in your eyes, immediately flush your eyes with water from the eyewash station for at least 15 minutes. Be sure to hold your eyes open while flushing with water.
5. If a small amount of a hazardous chemical splashes on your skin, thoroughly rinse the exposed area with running water.
6. If a large amount of chemical splashes onto your skin or clothing, proceed immediately to the safety shower and wash with water for at least 20 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing as quickly as possible while standing under the shower.
7. If a hazardous chemical is spilled on your clothing, do NOT wash the affected area with water. (This causes the substance to pass through your clothes to your skin). Remove the contaminated clothing and wash the skin under the affected area.
8. In case of fire in the laboratory space, turn off any sources of gas. If immediate efforts to extinguish the fire are unsuccessful, begin an orderly evacuation of the building.
9. If you or your clothing catch on fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL. You may also extinguish any flames by standing under the running safety shower, if necessary.