Laboratory safety includes all the precautionary measures and important guidelines that are used and obeyed in a laboratory. These safety guidelines bring responsibilities to both the employer and employee to adhere to them. Each lab's efficiency will depend on the way its employees follow and respect the rules and instructions given to them for their own safety.
Aims and objectives of a safety report: A safety report aims to reduce injury or illness risks for lab workers. This can be done by ensuring that the lab workers have previously received enough training, support, information, and safe lab equipment.
This report highlights the way safety rules should be followed every time activities of the lab are carried out under the following:
- A. Lab activity preparation.
- B. Eye safety and PPEs.
- C. Chemical hygiene safety.
- D. Storage and handling of chemical waste.
- E. Responding to emergencies.
- F. Lab equipment and symbols.
- G. Laboratory rules.
- H. Evacuation plan.
Below are ways how a lab should operate to ensure safety:
A. Lab activities preparations:
Prior to all lab activities, it is important to understand all the concerns of safety and hazards which relate to the conducted lab procedures and identify all risk factors to avoid any destruction in lab activities. All lab equipment must undergo a thorough inspection to avoid injuries and inaccuracy of results. Laboratory technicians should follow the lab rules and regulations and adhere to all the instructions given to them by the ones in charge of the conducted experiment, (Baur et al, 102). It is also important for technicians to ensure that they fully understand the lab activity that they will be carrying out and know the exact locations of safety equipment in the lab in case of an emergency. All the factors that may cause risks should be identified before starting lab activities. Information such as pre-lab projects can be of good purpose to ensure that activities in the lab are efficient. Knowing the types and nature of substances a lab technician will be handling is important before starting any lab activity. Lab technicians should know and understand all the hazard signs in the lab prior to lab use.
B. Eye safety and PPEs:
Task evaluation is important to come up with suitable PPEs for a specific working area and the process carried out in that work area. Training must be provided to lab employees on how they should wear, adjust, maintain, and discard their necessary PPEs, this must be done by the lab supervisor or PI. When working on an experiment, lab technicians must put on whole-body covering clothes, a fully buttoned-up lab coat, gloves, closed shoes, safety goggles, and even face shields. In the lab, employees with long hair must tie their hair up and if anyone has a long necklace, it must be tucked away. An eyewash station should be clearly identified in case of an accident concerning the eyes.
C. Chemical hygiene safety:
In a lab, there are various chemicals with various toxicity, ignition, and corrosion degrees, and they all require cautious handling and utilization. The properties that lab chemicals carry have the potential of harming anyone who contacts them, therefore, they should not be left anywhere where other employees may contact them including the floor, lab benches, and lab chemical hoods. Labels for every lab reagent must be provided and their handling, disposal, and storage must be fully understood by the employees. According to (Baur et al, 2008), the CHP outlines the responsibilities, policies, and procedures that aim to protect during lab activities, and it must be followed, if possible. Regular inspection of chemicals should be done, and inventory must be sent to responders of local emergencies. Food containers must not be used to store chemicals, instead separate chemical cabinets must be used to store chemicals according to their levels of toxicity. During a lab experiment, all lab windows must be opened to avoid the explosion of closed systems, or an air conditioner must be used because it is not dense as the air.
D. Storage and handling of laboratory waste:
In a laboratory, there must be different bins for the disposal of different lab wastes, these include chemical waste, specimens, needles, and glasses. All lab waste that is not disposed on the lab`s general bin must be disposed of properly in the appropriate bins that are provided in the lab because they might have a negative and dangerous effect on the general environment. Tweezers must be used to handle small specimens. To avoid dripping during specimen collection, the dissection must be rinsed, the specimen lightly dried, and trayed with a paper towel that is absorbent and easy to dispose of. Needles and other sharps must be disposed of in the sharps bin and that bin must be three-quarters full before collection, this is to avoid overfilling the bin and soiling the needles because they might cause injuries to the lab workers. Needles should never be recapped, and all safe disposal lab instructions must be adhered to always.
E. Responding to lab emergencies:
Emergencies in the lab can involve chemical spills, chemical contact with the skin or eye, consumption of chemicals, or inhalation of fumes from chemical reactions. In case of such emergencies, the accident must be reported immediately, and first aid must be provided for the person whom the accident occurred, to reduce the effect of the chemicals, for example: (1). Chemical contact with the eye: If the eye contacts a chemical, it may become painful, swollen, show a reddish color and irritated. First aid is the best response for this emergency, and this includes flushing the eye with large quantities of water while holding it wide open medical attention should be sought in the meantime. (2). Spillage of chemicals: A drench shower must be used in case of a chemical spillage on the skin to flush the chemical off the skin with large cold-water volumes. If the spill is on the clothes, then the clothes must be taken off immediately, and if the spill is on the floor or counter, that area must be neutralized.
F. Lab symbols and equipment:
Before using a laboratory, several chemical hazard symbols require attention and it is good to know the meaning of each of the symbols so that the person practicing in the lab can be able to protect him or herself from the danger caused by the chemicals, these include:
- Harmful- these are chemical hazards that can harm or kill a person if not careful when using them.
- Explosive- exposure to high temperature, shock,z, and pressure, these chemicals release heat, pressure, and gas.
- Corrosive- in case of contact, these chemicals permanently damage the skin and can go as far as damaging the tissues.
- Dangerous to the environment- the effects of these chemicals on the environment are caused by contact with the environment and the physical forms of these chemicals which are in the form of dust, liquids, vapors, and gas. They tend to be the most hazardous because they don’t just affect the medical lab practitioner but may also lead to the degradation of nature and its resources.
- Flammable- these materials burn or explode easily.
- Oxidizing agents- according to (AZ Chemistry, 2022), these chemicals can increase fire induction and be corrosive and poisonous.
- Radioactive- chemicals that are dangerous to the skin, and genes and lead to one's lifespan being shorter.
- Biohazard- they cause danger to living organisms' health.
- Poisonous or toxic- causes allergies and the reaction may show off on the skin or the eyes.
- Electric hazard- chemicals that cause body shock by the generation of static electricity by the exposure of chemicals to materials that cause friction with the surface, (Littelfuse,2021).
(Hauzen, 2021), when working with chemicals, safety should always be prior to any activity. It is important to know how to use laboratory equipment and know their location and how to use them (Chamberlain,2022). Laboratory equipment includes the following:
- Fume hoods- protect lab workers by creating a barrier between them and hazardous chemical processes.
- Flammable liquid storage cabinets- to keep flammable liquid cabinets.
- Fire extinguisher- in case of fire emergencies.
- Fire blanket- for workers to extinguish small fires to prevent them from getting bigger.
- Safety cans- to store those chemicals that can cause fire, to reduce fire cases in the lab.
- Safety showers- in case of contact with a chemical, a shower can help to wash off the chemical.
- Eyewash station- when a chemical accidentally contacts the eye, eyewash stations are useful to clean off the chemical from the eye.
- Chemical spill kits- to handle any spills of hazardous chemicals.
- First aid kits- for treatment of minor injuries and reducing the effects of an injury before a medical consultation.
- PPEs- important for body covering and to avoid contact with hazardous lab chemicals, to protect the eyes, and skin, and to cover the mouth and nose to avoid inhaling hazardous chemicals. PPE may even include long trousers and closed shoes.
G. Laboratory rules:
A laboratory has rules that the employees have to follow so that they don’t find themselves being harmed during their time of practice, these rules include: (1). No eating and drinking in the lab. (2). No use of cell phones in the lab. (3). No smelling or inhaling anything in the lab. (4). PPEs must be worn all the time. (5). Every lab accident must be reported. (6). No licking of gummed labels. (7). Benches must be disinfected after every session of work. (8). Closed shoes and long pants must be worn in the lab all the time.
H. Evacuation plan:
If there is a fire, for all classes (A-D), the fire alarm will go off. There must be two unobstructed exits on each floor and each fire exit must be operable. Workers must use the stairs instead of elevators because elevators may get incapacitated and trap them on the burning floor. Fire emergency numbers must be accessed, so it is important to put them near telephones. When leaving a room or floor, the door must be closed to avoid fire spreading. After leaving the building, all workers must gather at the assembly point and a headcount must be done to ensure that everyone managed to evacuate the building.
Conclusion: If an institution makes lab safety their unquestioned core value, all the operations of the lab will run efficiently, and the lab will have greater and more trusted service delivery because adhering to safety rules reduces accidents and that reduces staff absenteeism. Labs can operate smoothly and produce accurate results if no one is endangered in the place of work, which is the laboratory, and that will make that lab to be efficient for the institution, patients, and the community at large.
- UTC, (2022). Aims of laboratory safety. Available at https:enwikipedia.orgwikilaboratory-safety , (Accessed, 07 June 2022).
- 360 Training, (2022). Types of hazardous chemicals. Available at: www.360training.comblogwhat-are-the-different-types-of-chemical-hazard, (Accessed, 07 June 2022).
- Aftermath, (2022). Biohazard waste. Available at: www.aftermath.comcontentbiohazard-safety-levels, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Vaal University of Technology, (2022). Poisonous or toxic chemicals effect. Available at: https:vut.blackboard.com, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Littelfuse, (2022). Electric hazard effects. Available at: www.hazardexonthenet.net.article , (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Ball State University, (2022). Disposal methods. Available at: https:www.bsu.edu-mediaWWWDepartmentcontent, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Research Laboratory and Safety Services, (2015). Corrosive hazardous chemicals. Available at: research.anzona.edusitesdefaultfilescs-chemical_hazard_ask.sop.for.corrosive. (Accessed, 07 June 2022).
- AZ Chemistry, (2022). Dangerous lab chemicals. Available at: arch.com.effects-of-oxidising-chemicals, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Hauzan, (2021). Laboratory Safety Equipment. Available at: safels.comlab-safety-equipment, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).
- Laboratory Quality Management System, (2021). Ways to dispose samples in a laboratory. Available at: extranet.who.intsitesdefaultfilesattached files, (Accessed, 08 June 2022).