Top tips for lab safety

16th April 2019

The USA is home to thousands of science laboratories, or labs, where high school and college students get to practice what they've learned in a hands-on controlled setting. Biology, chemistry, zoology, and astronomy are just a few of the subjects that hold labs. 

Since students are far from being professional lab techs, following lab safety protocol is of utmost importance. All possible precautions should be taken to prevent students from getting injured. Whether it's a small cut from a broken test tube or a major burn from a hydrochloric acid spill, accidents can always be prevented in a lab setting. 

Let's brush over a few tips and tricks for staying safe in science labs. Remember - whether you're feeling tired, sick, or ready to go home, safety should always be at the forefront of your mind. 

Don't Bring Food Or Drinks Around Equipment 

If you spill a drink or make a mess of food, you're going to distract yourself and others from learning. Further, whatever you spill could permanently damage the lab equipment your class is working with. Lastly, you could contaminate lab projects, meaning you could get a zero on an assignment or be forced to redo it, not to mention hurt your classmates' grades! 

Although it might be tempting to bring food or drink near lab equipment - what's the harm, right? - you should refrain from doing so. 

Acid Or Water - Which Comes First? 

Acids are chemicals that give away protons and accept electrons. This property makes acids react with just about everything in a chemistry lab. The higher the concentration of an acid in a solution, the more reactive it will be. 

In chemistry labs, acids are often used to cause or speed up chemical reactions. Always remember to pour acid into water, never the other way around! Since acids are so reactive, pouring a small amount of water into a container of acid could result in serious injury. 

Non-Slip Footwear Is A Big Deal 

Labs are full of expensive equipment, students, and chemicals. Falling onto equipment could cost your school thousands of dollars. Running into chemicals could injure you, other students, and cost a pretty penny. Simply bumping into other students can cause a chain reaction in which equipment or chemicals get involved. 

Wearing non-slip footwear greatly reduces the risk of tripping, slipping, and sliding in the laboratory. 

Don't Work Alone, No Matter What 

Lab students should never work by themselves. As an example, assume someone is in a science lab working by himself. The lab student gets a harmful, corrosive liquid in both of his eyes. 

In a normal, supervised setting, one of the student's peers could guide him to an eyewash station to prevent damage. By himself, however, the student isn't likely to locate the eyewash station as quickly, potentially resulting in an optical injury. 

Also, when you work with at least one other lab partner, the two of you will likely perform better together.

Austin Winder is a contributing author for LOC Scientific





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