Lab Safety

Lab Safety || Accidents || Safety Equipment || Lab Preparation || Safety Links

Lab Safety: Everyone is Responsible!

"I didn't mean to" and "It wasn't my fault" are two statements that have no place in the lab. If someone is hurt or equipment is broken, these statements cannot undo the harm.
Horse-play will not be tolerated. If it occurs, those involved will be disqualified from the lab and given a zero for the assignment.
Lack of pre-lab preparation is the main threat to safety in our lab. If you and your group are unprepared, you will be unsure of yourself, waist time, and have a good chance of making a mistake that leads to a problem.
At the beginning of each lab period, you will be given a chance to ask questions. If you are unsure of some procedure, now is the time to ask. Always pay close attention to any verbal instructions given at this time.
  • Safety Glasses must be worn in the lab area.

    your eyesight cannot be replaced, protect it

    • Safety glasses are stored in the safety glass cabinet
    • Other protective clothing, such as gloves and aprons are at your option, unless otherwise noted.
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Traininglink to an Internet Website

  • Contact lenses should NOT be worn in the lab.
    • It is almost impossible to remove contacts after chemicals have been splashed into the eyes.
    • Chemicals trapped under contacts will damage the eye even more than normal.
    • The plastic used for some types of contact lenses is permeable to vapors found in the laboratory. If these vapors are trapped behind the lens, extensive irritation may occur.

  • Long hair and bulky clothing are dangerous in the lab.
    • There is a danger of catching fire, as well as being drawn through chemicals.
    • Wear appropriate clothing.
    • Tie back long hair.

  • Rings, watches, and jewelry are dangerous in the lab.
    • Corrosive or irritating liquids may get underneath a ring or watch and produce irritation.
    • Dangling jewelry may catch on a piece of labware and cause an accident.

What's wrong with this picture? link to a local picture

Accidents Can Happen:
Broken Glass | Cuts and Scrapes | Chemical Spills | Fires

Remain calm! A minor problem quickly becomes a major one if you don't.

  • Report all accidents immediately, no matter how small.

  • Types of accidents and how to handle them:

    1. Broken Glass:possible safety hazard
      The most common accident in the lab, even with the best of care.

      • If you are using the equipment properly, you will not get into trouble for breaking a piece of glassware.
      • If you are not using the equipment properly, or if horse-play is involved, you will be required to pay for the broken glassware.
      • If glassware is broken, stop where you are. Report the breakage to your facilitator.
      • If anyone is cut, report it immediately.
      • More minor cuts occur after this type of accident than during it.
      • Chemical spills are often involved with glass breakage. When that occurs, follow those safety precautions too.

    2. Cuts and Scrapes:caution
      Do not come into contact with another person's blood.

      • Report the situation to your facilitator and let him help the injured person.
      • There is always a possibility of infection, even with the most minor injury. For this reason you should report any cut or scrape, even if there is no visible blood.
      • If there is blood at any lab station, move to your seat in the classroom area until told it is safe to return to the lab.
      • Bloodborne Pathogen Traininglink to an Internet Website

    3. Chemical Spills:warning
      You are to treat all chemical spills as DANGEROUS.

      • Stop where you are and let your facilitator advise you about what to do.

      • Chemical Safety Warning Signslink to a local webpage - NFPA, ANSI, OSHA
      • Did any of the spill get on your skin or clothing? Sometimes adding water is the worst thing you can do.
      • Depending on the chemical spilled, we might just have a mess to clean up or we might have a very dangerous situation.
      • The most potentially dangerous chemicals used in our lab are corrosive acids and bases. Even though you will normally be using chemicals that have been diluted, you should always treat acids and bases with care.
      • Glass breakage often occurs along with chemical spills. If that happens, follow those safety precautions too.

    4. Fire:danger
      When you are not heating something - turn the burner off.

      • Lab burners are the source of most problems:
        • Bunsen burners have very few malfunctions. If a malfunction occurs, turn off the gas and notify your facilitator- end of problem.
        • The flame from alcohol burners is hard to see. Pay close attention when using them.
        • Be aware when a burner is in use at your lab station. Be extremely careful during that time.

      • Paper is the most common type of fire in the lab.
        • This type of fire is cause by carelessness and easily prevented. Take only one lab sheet to your station to follow your written procedures and record data. Leave all reference materials at your desk. If you need to refer to reference material, leave the lab area to do so.
        • If a paper fire occurs, push the paper into the lab sink and turn on the water - end of problem.

      • Clothing or Hair is the most dangerous type of fire in the lab.
        • Don't panic!
        • If you are the one involved in a fire - stay where you are - help is coming. "Stop, drop, and roll" is still the best course of action.
        • If the fire is not at your lab station - stay away !

Lab Safety Equipment:

  1. Eye Wash Station:notice

    The eye wash station is located on the west wall of the science lab.

    • The station should only be used if chemicals come in contact with the eyes.
    • Eyelids have to be forcibly kept open to ensure effective washing.
    • Be sure to wash from the nose out to the ear. This will avoid washing chemicals back into the eye or into an unaffected eye.
    • Flood eyes and eyelids with water for a minimum of 15 minutes.
    • Contacts should not be worn during labs. If you are wearing them when involved with an accident, remove them as soon as possible to rinse eyes of any harmful chemicals.
    • After the science facilitator determines the eyes are completely flushed, both of the victim's eyes should be covered with a clean or sterile gauze.

  2. Safety Shower:

    The safety shower is located on the west wall of the science lab.

    • The shower provides an effective means of treatment in the event that large amounts of chemicals are spilled or splashed onto the skin or clothing.
    • As long as the hanging handle is pulled down, the safety shower will supply a continuous stream of water to cover the entire body.
    • Individuals should remove clothing, including shoes and jewelry, while under an operating shower.

  3. Fire Safety Blanket:notice

    • Fire blankets are not the best means to extinguish a fire. They may be used to extinguish clothing that is burning, but should never be used on any other type of fire.

      Never wrap a standing student in the blanket. This creates a "chimney effect", bringing the fire directly to the student's face.

    • Only a Haylon fire extinguisher should be used on a fire involving personal clothing. The materials from other extinguishers can cut off oxygen to a person surrounded by the cloud of chemicals.
    • Fire blankets are a good means to keep shock victims warm.

  4. Fire Extinguisher:notice

    The fire extinguisher is located on the right had side of the rear exit door in the classroom.

    • Only the science facilitator is authorized to use the fire extinguisher.
    • Fire extinguishers are classified according to a particular fire type and are given the same letter and symbol classification as that of the fire.

      Types of Fire Extinguishers:

      wood, cloth, paper, rubber and plastics.

      Flammable liquids:
      oil, grease and paint thinners.

      Energized electrical equipment.
      Our lab fire extinguisher is Type ABC, effective against Types A, B, and C.

    • The average fire extinguisher only operates about 10 seconds. Don't waste it!
      • You must get close to the fire - as close as 5 or 6 feet!
      • To effectively operate an extinguisher, think P-A-S-S.
          P -- pull the pin
          A -- aim the hose at the base of the fire
          S -- squeeze the handle
          S -- sweep the hose back and forth
    • Fire Extinguisher Traininglink to an Internet Website
    • Fire Safety and Fire Extinguisherslink to an Internet Website

  5. Sprinkler System:notice

    Sprinklers located throughout the lab area are automatically activated.

    • Students should not attempt to alter the system in any way.
    • Items in the lab should be stored at least 18 inches away from the sprinkler heads.
    • Items should not hang from the sprinkler heads.
    • Intense heat should not be used near the sprinkler heads.

Biology Science Labs:

  • Students learn the scientific methodlink to a local webpage by doing science.
  • The purpose of an experiment is to test a hypothesis.
  • To be successful in your laboratory experience, know how to:
      successfully conduct a lablink to a local webpage
      properly use lab equipmentlink to a local webpage
      correctly perform lab techniqueslink to a local webpage
      write a lab report using this report guidelink to a local webpage
      evaluate your report using this evaluation to a local webpage
Prelab Preparation:
  • You must have a clearly stated question before a hypothesis can be formed. Some of your lab experiences will begin by giving you a hypothesis. In those cases, it is important that you decide what question was asked?
  • Once you understand the question, you must find out all you can about the topic. This is called research. Your success and safety in the lab depends on how well you research each topic before trying to answer the lab question.
  • Based on your research, you should be able to formulate a possible answer to the question - this becomes your hypothesis.
    • Some of your lab questions might have answers that have been repeatedly obtained and generally accepted as correct. An example is the question, "What percentage of the air in the atmosphere is made up of oxygen?" You should be able to find reference material that gives the answer. For your lab purposes, this number would be called the theoretical value. When you perform an experiment and get a number, that number would be called the experimental value.
    • When a theoretical value is known, you can determine just how good your experiment is and how well your procedures were done by using the following equation to calculate the experimental error.

Planning An Experiment:
  • Visualize yourself doing the experiment in our room!
    • What will you need to test your hypothesis?
    • Make notes about everything you will do as you see yourself performing the experiment. Do not make these notes in your Lab Report. These are your "working" notes. You will probably make changes as you continue thinking about the lab.
    • Will you be making any measurements during the lab?
    • What other data will you need to collect?
    • What calculations will be needed?
    • How will you know if your hypothesis is supported or rejected?
    • Look over your notes again. Are there any places where mistakes might be easily made? Can you do something different that will lower the chance for mistakes?
    • When you are satisfied that you have covered everything, write your procedures in your Lab Report.
    • Make your procedures clear enough that someone else could follow them.
  • When your plan is neatly written on a Lab Report Form, you are prepared for the lab - not before.
Lab Station Clean-Up:
  • Clean-up is important for the safety of others and for the preservation of equipment.
  • Your lab station and equipment should be cleaned before you worry about the lab report.
  • What clean-up should be done after each lab?
    • Dispose of chemicals as directed by your facilitator.
    • NEVER put unused chemicals back into their original container.
    • Return chemical containers to the chemical table.
    • Wash and dry all glassware, then store properly.
    • Clean hardware, but DO NOT wash. If any hardware is wet, dry completely before storing. This is to prevent rusting.
    • Clean and dry your lab table.

Research Links:

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