labsafety.gif

Are You Prepared for the Top 5 Laboratory Hazards?

July 12, 2016
Make sure workers are protected from the top hazards in the laboratory.

To generate awareness and offer safeguards for laboratory workers, Workrite Uniform Co. has created a Top 5 list of laboratory hazards.

1. Fire/Explosions

In a laboratory, all chemicals and liquids should be treated as if they are as potent as gasoline. Vapors can travel long distances and may ignite if they reach a flame or spark. Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand and ensure each individual in the laboratory knows its exact location to prevent fires from spreading. The appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), like a flame-resistant (FR) lab coat, should also be worn.

2. Thermal and Chemical Burns

Many chemicals, both organic and inorganic, may be flammable or corrosive to the skin and eyes. It is important to exercise caution with chemicals to prevent spills and splashes. Additionally, the correct PPE always should be worn, such as lab coats that offer both FR properties and chemical-splash protection (CP).

Read more: Top 5 Laboratory Safety Tips [Photo Gallery] 

3. Skin Absorption of Chemicals

Keeping chemicals away from direct contact with the skin is fundamental in laboratory safety. Even if chemicals are not corrosive, exposure can cause allergic reactions or other problems if absorbed by the skin.

Remember that gloves may be permeable to certain chemical reagents – even without visible deterioration – so trade out any gloves that have come into contact with such chemicals for a new pair immediately. Never touch your face or eyes until your hands are clean of all chemicals or solvents. As an extra precaution, wear a CP lab coat to prevent chemicals from wicking through fabric to the wearer.

4. Inhalation of Toxic Fumes

Many common solvents are extremely toxic if inhaled, and inhalation of certain chemicals severely can irritate membranes in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. To reduce these risks, never evaporate excess solvents.

Laboratory workers also should maintain a safe distance when pouring chemicals and make sure there is proper ventilation in the lab.

5. Cuts to the Skin

Cuts to the skin are one of the most common types of laboratory accidents. In severe cases, nerves and tendons may be severed. Often, these injuries occur as a result of attempting to force a cork or rubber stopper into a piece of glass tubing, thermometer or distilling flask.

To prevent this accident from occurring, workers should make a proper-sized hole, lubricate the cork or stopper, and use gentle pressure with rotation on the glass portion.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!