Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The work you do in your laboratory can only be done if you have the right supplies and the proper safety procedures in place. Not having a properly stocked and safe lab could spell disaster for any research project or team in an instant. No matter what work you are doing in your particular lab, chances are you will be exposed to any number of hazards, and you have to be sure you and those working in your lab are prepared to deal with these dangers in a safe and effective manner. Here are some tips to make sure your lab is safe.
Following Federal Standards
There are more than 500,000 laboratory workers employed in the United States, according to the United States Department of Labor. In order to protect these individuals, there are federal safety requirements in place, as well as state and local regulations, all of which must be followed in each lab. These rules are set to protect lab workers from the potential hazards they face each time they set foot into a lab. The federal regulations under OSHA deal specifically with:
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Air contaminants
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Controlling hazardous energy
- Protection of the eyes and face
- Protection of the respiratory system
As well as a host of other safety regulations, all of which can be reviewed on the Department of Labor website.
Knowing How to Handle Different Emergencies
Part of working in a lab means knowing how to handle all of the ‘what if’ situations that may arise. For example, in a lab one could encounter many different kinds of emergencies ranging from chemical spills to fires. Those working within the labs should be trained to handle all of the potential situations as well as how they can best help their coworkers should they be in need of assistance. That means, whenever you have someone new come on to your team, you should be sure that they know how to respond to medical emergencies, fires, chemical spills, radioactive spills, and biohazard spills.
Having the Right Supplies
Of course, you can have all the safety measures and protocols in the world in place and they will mean nothing if you do not have the right laboratory supplies. A properly stocked lab with the right equipment for any given test or procedure will help to ensure your staff is protected while they do their work. Using the wrong tools as tests are preformed could create a dangerous, even deadly situation that could have been avoided if the right equipment had been available.
Having a well-functioning lab means being proactive in your preparation for an emergency. If you are not prepared to deal with an emergency, it could spell disaster for your lab and those who work within it. Be sure that each of your lab employees are aware of the safety regulations, have been prepared to deal with emergencies, and have the right equipment to do their job and your lab will be that much safer.
Chris McHugh is a lab technician with over 25 years of industry experience. In his free time, Chris enjoys blogging about current lab projects, proper lab safety, and new lab technology.