Every student should learn basic lab safety rules and stick to the regulations, while performing experiments in the lab. Following safety tips is crucial to maintain a safe environment for all people working in the laboratory.
A foray into the world of inventions and discoveries will reveal that the first acknowledgeable chemist in the history of man’s civilization was a Mesopotamian woman who lived around the second millennium BC, named Tapputi. She was known to be perfumer by vocation, who was also speculatively the inventor of the process of distillation. Any scientific laboratory should be regulated with certain precautions, which are crucial for proper maintenance of the lab, and also for safety purposes. The regulations are more stringent where strong acids, carcinogenic chemicals, and fragile glassware fill most shelves.
Lab Safety Regulations
A lab is a place for learning and putting experimental theories into practice. But, the experimentation part involves handling hazardous acids and chemicals. The school safety approach is that everyone in the lab is responsible to carrying out testing correctly and handling glassware carefully. Discussed below are some chemistry lab safety tips, which should be adopted by every student entering the lab.
Wear Safety Gear
All students entering the research vicinity should make sure that they wear safety attire, like goggles, full-sleeved lab coat, long pants, and shoes. Usually, safety goggles are provided by the concerned department. Also, those with long hair should tie their hair neatly while conducting experiments that involve usage of open flames.
Check the Safety Label
Before handling any chemical substance in a lab, it is always advisable to read the label first. A handout known as material safety data sheet (MSDS) is available in every lab. Refer to the precautionary guidelines and safety tips that are to be taken for handling, usage, and disposal of the chemicals in use.
Heating Glassware or Chemicals
Two of the important chemistry lab safety rules for the mid-level class and older classes are, proper handling of flammable substances (alcohol, acetone)(,) and, careful operation with open flames. While heating a test tube with chemicals, a student should not orient the open end towards himself or his neighboring colleagues in the lab. Always point the test tube away from people and chemicals.
Never Pipette with the Mouth
At any point of time, a student should not pipette out a solution with the mouth. This rule is applicable, even if the liquid is just plain water or distilled water. After all, no one knows how clean the glassware is. An automated pipette, or a pipette with a bulb, serves the best for drawing liquid safely, without any risks. Be thorough with the science lab safety rules to avoid dangers.
Use only Required Chemicals
At the time of conducting an experiment, know the ingredients that are required for that particular test. Handle only those chemicals that are required. Cross-check the concentration mentioned in the protocol, and the label of the chemical. When both match, then only proceed with opening the chemical bottle and further steps.
Follow the Protocol
For any type of experiment or project, follow the step-by-step instructions exactly as highlighted in the original protocol. Even a simple diversion can cause unusual reactions, if not done correctly. The point is to add the exact amount of chemicals in a sequential manner, as suggested in the procedure.
Dispose Excess Chemicals
If, by any chance, a chemical is taken in excess amount, more than the required quantity, the student is expected to throw the extra chemical properly. In short, do not return the unused substance in the stock bottle, so as to avoid contamination. While disposing the chemical, check whether it can be thrown directly in the drain or not.
Learn First Aid Tips
Spillage of acids and breakage of test tubes are some of the common incidences in a chemistry lab. Never handle an unknown laboratory equipment or sniff unknown chemicals; they can be dangerous. It is the role of the lab assistant to teach first aid steps to avoid worse reactions. Also, a student should avoid consumption in close vicinity. There is no room for negligence in a lab; even a small error can lead to severe injuries and fatalities.
In Case of An Accident
A chemical lab is conventionally replete with a variety of volatile compounds in all three states (gaseous, solid and liquid) kept under different specifications needed for it. The ambient components around them also vary. For instance, the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and nature of the container for storage notably differs. The presence of a supervisor is absolutely necessary at all times. A practical instance to reinforce this regulation is the occurrence of accidents like chemical spillage into the eyes, severe burn wounds due to skin contact with concentrated acids and reagents, or losing consciousness coming in proximity to certain compounds.
The following actions should be followed in case of accidents pertaining to the nature:
a. In case of an accidental spillage of chemical into the eyes, immediate removal of it runs the highest priority. A lab supervisor should be perennially available for assistance, and should be within the reach of a call during the performance of an experiment. A thorough rinsing of the eyes is needed within a time span of at least 15 minutes, after which, professional medical help should be sought.
b. Burns caused due to coming in close contact with reagents or acids should be thoroughly washed with water, followed by applying an anti-burn cream. Fire extinguishers should be within a person’s reach to deal in case of duress.
c. In case of a fire, emergency exit routes should be thoroughly memorized.