Lab Safety Rules

Lab Safety Rules Introduction

Lab safety rules are important to keep you and your lab mates safe. There are many different rules out there, and many will depend on the specific lab and materials you are working with. Follow any instructions from your instructor, lab manual, or other authority. Below we discuss some of the most common lab safety rules for introductory chemistry courses.

Other Articles On Lab Safety

Lab glasses are an important part of lab rules
Lab safety glasses are an important part of lab safety rules (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Why are Lab Rules Important?

Lab rules are important to keep everyone safe. Many chemicals in a chemistry lab can harm you and the people around you if they are not handled correctly. Many different incidents can happen in a lab, so rules are in place to help prevent these from occurring.

Lab Safety Equipment

  • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Lab goggles or glasses will always be required when working in a lab. Splashing chemicals into your eyes can quickly cause permanent eye damage.
  • Safety Shower
    • The safety shower is present for chemical spills on a person. The shower has a high flow rate that quickly washes chemicals from the body. Your instructor gives you directions on how and when to use the safety shower. Generally, if the shower is needed, the person affected should stand under it for 10-15 minutes and remove all their clothes while doing so.
  • Fire extinguisher
    • All labs should have a fire extinguisher. There are different types of fire extinguishers for different classes of materials. To read more on that, see this article. Always make sure an appropriate fire extinguisher is present in the lab and you know how to use it properly.
  • Eye Wash
    • The eyewash is used for flushing water over the eyes when chemicals get into them. Your instructor will show you how to use the eyewash station present in your lab.
Eye wash station for lab safety
Eye wash station with shower indicated above by sign
  • Emergency exits
    • It is essential to know where the emergency exits are in the lab. Sometimes leaving the lab in a dangerous situation is the best way to keep everyone safe. Generally, there will be two exits in a lab.

5 Rules of Lab Safety

  1. Follow all instructions given to you.

The most important rule as a student in a lab is to follow all the instructions. Your instructor is aware of the risks in the current lab and will know how to keep you and others safe.

2. No eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics in the lab. Never take lab glassware out of the lab to use for food consumption. Do not taste or directly smell chemicals.

Ingestion of chemicals can be hazardous. In a chemistry lab, you must assume that all surfaces may be contaminated with chemicals. Therefore, it is never allowed to eat or drink in the lab.

3. Know your surroundings, including emergency exit, fire extinguisher, eyewash, and emergency shower locations.

In the case of an emergency, it is essential to be able to act quickly. Quick action could save someone’s health, while delaying could cause additional harm. Therefore, it is crucial to know where all safety equipment is in the lab.

4. Do not work alone in the lab.

It is crucial to always work with a buddy in the lab. In an emergency, there needs to be someone around to assist. For example, if you splash something in your eye that causes you to be unable to see, someone else needs to be around to direct you to the eyewash station

5. Dress appropriately for the lab.

This generally means long pants covering the ankle, closed-toed shoes, long hair tied back, and removing dangling jewelry. For specific lab situations, other attire may be required or restricted.

Fun Fact!

Service dog in training
Service dog in training (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Did you know they have specialized lab safety equipment for service animals! Everyone should be able to participate in their chemistry labs, and for some, this means bringing along a guide dog. However, safety is always the top priority for humans and furry friends. Therefore, different options have been developed to protect the animals while assisting their owners in learning chemistry! The dogs often have safety goggles, booties, and a designated mat to lie on where they are still close enough to help their handler.

Linked here is an article about service dogs (with a picture!) in lab classes.