While the safety guidelines for labs have been established by the health department, every lab follows its own specified procedures as well. These are important to keep your lab free from all kinds of risks and physical damage.
Aside from creating a safe atmosphere for the lab workers, a lab owner should also maintain some guidelines to protect their molecular biology products from impairment. Various inspections have identified safety issues in labs through the years. Therefore, we have developed this guide to inform you of the common safety practices to follow in a lab.
Important Safety Practices To Follow
Follow these steps to avoid harming the products in your lab. It will also ensure your own safety as a lab technician.
1. Do Not Store Your Products Too Close To The Ceiling:
Your topmost storage shelf should be at least 450 mm away from the sprinklers at the ceiling. This is a BC Fire Code that needs to be followed by every lab. We recommend removing all the items located on the highest shelf and relocating them to the lower compartments. This will increase the distance between your stored products and ceiling height.
2. Keep Flammable/Toxic Chemicals Below Face Height:
This is important for the safety of researchers and lab technicians. Dedicate a section of the cabinet to store all the hazardous and highly concentrated material and chemicals. If that is not possible, have each worker wear an additional PPE in the form of a face shield. This way, if a container is dropped accidentally while picking up material, the worker will not be burned or harmed.
3. Label The Waste Containers Correctly:
Label your container following the directions in the Chemical Safety And Methodology Manual. Before adding any waste to a container, make sure that you have added the volume and concentration of the liquid to the label.
Additionally, be careful while adding a new waste to a container and make sure that the liquid inside is compatible with the liquid already existing in the vessel. All this information is important as it will help in decontamination, cleaning and determining the first aid treatments in case of exposure to the waste.
The process requires regular supervision and training of the staff. Every worker and lab user should be well-versed with the UNBC identified handling procedures. The principal investigator of the lab should take extra care in ensuring that all the lab users complete the waste tags properly.
4. Annual Check-ups For Degraded Plastic Containers:
A lot of factors contribute to the degradation of chemical containers. Due to internal stresses, UV radiation, temperature changes and chemical activity, the chemical-containing plastic containers start to become less flexible. The lids and containers become stiff and less resistant to breakage. Sometimes they break in the hands of a user, which results in unnecessary exposure and chemical loss.
It is recommended to perform annual check-ups of containers to ensure maximum safety. The method to do that requires you to squeeze the container with gentle flexing. This will help identify deteriorated plastic containers.
You can also have a look at the manufacturer’s guidelines for the physical and chemical resistance of the material. If you have found degraded chemical containers during the inspection, bring the issue to the PI who is responsible to resolve it. (Common Laboratory Safety Issues, n.d.)
5. Use Relevant Protective Apparel:
The activities in each lab may differ slightly or significantly from other similar settings. That is why it is important that each student, worker and lab supervisor wears protective equipment that is appropriate for the activities and testing occurring within the facility. For example, wearing prescription glasses in place of safety goggles, using gloves or wearing a plastic PPE. Some lab settings also require their workers to wear sandals before entering the space.
These are the five safety guidelines every laboratory setting should follow. Whether you’re a lab inspector or an owner, you should know about the above-mentioned safety procedures. It is also your responsibility to ensure that the lab is not only efficiently equipped with laboratory equipment, but the workers are also aware of the proper usage and safety practices.
If you have efficiently familiarized yourself with the safety procedures and now need to buy some lab equipment like Hamilton tips or centrifuge tube, you can visit Molecular Biology Products. We are a well-known laboratory equipment distributor in Toronto.