Why Is Lab Safety Important?

Introduction

Lab safety is the most important aspect of any laboratory. Taking simple measures to produce a safe environment can protect everyone in the lab from injury, infection, or even death. The modules in the lab focused on three main points of safety: how to properly wash one’s hands, how to ensure personal safety, and how to dispose of various materials. Every laboratory and situation is different, but these crucial methods are applicable anywhere and at any time.

Methods and Materials

The first module of the lab focused on handwashing techniques. Materials include running water, soap, and paper towels. First, remove all jewelry and turn water on. Wet hands thoroughly. Apply soap and rub hands together for at least twenty seconds. Be sure to wash in between fingers and be sure to include wrists and scrub nails with nail brush if available. Rinse hands under running water. Point hands downward to ensure all soap and dirt or bacteria is washed off. Use paper towel to dry hands and turn faucet off last- being sure not to touch faucet handle with bare hands.

The second module of the lab focused on personal protection and the equipment involved. Eating and drinking are prohibited in the lab and anything of the sort should be thrown out prior to entering the laboratory. Appropriate dress in the lab is of the upmost importance. Lab coats, closed toe shoes, and long pants are to be worn at all times. All other personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn as needed including, but not limited to: gloves (when working with chemicals or infectious agents), goggles (when working with aerosols, chemicals, or bodily fluids), and hair ties (when working with chemicals or flames). All of these measures, and many more, ensure a safe and accident free laboratory, but if an accident were to occur, it is imperative to notify your professor immediately.

The third module of the lab covers proper waste disposal. Each waste item in the laboratory has its own different bin. Sharp items, including but not limited to, needles, syringes, broken glass beakers, sample tubes, droppers, pipettes, and used glass slides, should be discarded in the sharps bin.

Always disinfect the lab bench before and after use. This ensures a clean working space. Biohazardous waste, such as dissected animals or animal parts, gloves used during dissection, and culture plates should be disposed of into the biohazard bin. This bin is normally red in color and will be labeled as biohazard. Used paper towels, lab notes, and other noncontaminated, non-sharp items can be thrown away in a regular trash receptacle. Used tools that need to be sterilized need to be placed aside for the autoclave. All other tools that simply need cleaning are to be placed in the sink for washing.