If you’ve ever thought to yourself that our company is almost fanatically focused on lab safety, well, guess what: You’re right. One of the reasons for this is that lab accidents really do happen, and far too frequently. One researcher actually tracked lab accidents that have occurred over the past 100 years, documenting at least 125 major mishaps—and that doesn’t count all the smaller ones that didn’t make the news.
With this in mind, we are constantly on the lookout for reminders and tips to help make labs safer. (For previous tips and information, click here or here or here). The strategies below are courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, which takes a slightly different approach than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, giving a different perspective on ways you can keep everyone safe in your lab.
Tip #1: Pay Constant Attention
After a while, we can become accustomed to the substances we work with on a daily basis. Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes—but in a lab it’s much more likely to breed laxity and a dangerous inattention that can quickly lead to an accident.
Research labs feature everything from animal and biological dangers to simple physical perils like an inappropriately placed piece of lab furniture that wasn’t designed to be squeezed into a certain space and becomes a tripping hazard.
That’s why you should never let down your guard in the lab. Always pay attention to what you’re doing, who else is in the room, and what substances you’re handling. If by some unfortunate chance you do create or encounter an emergency situation, seek immediate assistance and report all accidents—no matter how small—to your supervisor.
Tip #2: Prepare
Pretend you’re back in school for this one (unless, of course, you are still in school, working in a college or university lab setting, in which case no pretending is necessary). Basically, you need to approach everything to do with the lab as if you’re studying for a test.
Attend lab safety briefings and updates. Read all the information you can find about everything in the lab—not just about dangerous substances you’ll be handling, but also the machines you’ll be working with and the dedicated lab furniture that’s designed to safely hold and handle those complex machines and dangerous substances.
Other ways to ace this “exam” are to follow instructions carefully and completely, know all the safety exits out of the building (in case one of them is blocked by a lab accident), and never, ever work alone.
Tip #3: Prevent
It might sound like a cliché, but it’s true: Prevention really is the best medicine. You won’t have to recover from a lab accident or contamination if you prevent one in the first place.
That’s why you want to dress appropriately and shouldn’t bring food and drink into the lab. You can also prevent accidental exposure by using dedicated lab furniture like fume hoods and biosafety cabinets. Also, never leave any active reaction unattended.
Tip #4: Protect
Lab coats don’t just look cool, they are designed to give you a protective layer that prevents accidental contamination. While gloves, goggles and ear plugs aren’t as fashionable, they also have a role to play in protecting you from danger.
And don’t forget to protect yourself when you remove these items. Wash your hands, especially if there’s any chance they came in contact with hazardous materials while you were removing your safety equipment.
Lab Furniture for Protection and Efficiency
Protecting yourself and your colleagues should always be foremost on your mind, but protecting the expensive machines you use is important too. This is why our line of dedicated lab furniture is so essential: Each piece helps protect both you and your equipment, all while enhancing efficiency and accuracy in the lab.
Contact us today to get answers to your questions about how specially designed lab furniture can improve lab safety and reliability for you.