Some Common Lab Safety Issues

lab-safety-issuesWe mention lab safety frequently in this blog. It’s something we recognize is a benefit of using the dedicated lab furniture we sell. While our products help make labs safer by containing the noise from vacuum pumps, handling the weight of heavy mass spectrometers and creating an organized work space for the various support equipment that advanced machines like mass spectrometers and HPLCs require, we also know a lot more can go wrong in the average laboratory.

The University of Texas recently compiled a list of 12 common lab safety issues, and we think they were right on target. In our continuing mission to make labs safer, we thought it would be good to share some of these issues.

Food and Clothing Considerations

Some of the items on the University of Texas’s list relate to things that you bring into the lab. It’s important to remember that a research lab is a professional environment. Don’t bring your lunch into the lab (or any type of food or drink) if you’re going to be anywhere near hazardous materials.

You also need to keep safety in mind when it comes to the clothing you wear in your research lab. For instance, in the same way that you should never wear open-toed shoes at a construction site, you should also never wear them in a research lab. Even if you do have dedicated lab furniture in your lab, you could drop something heavy or caustic on those exposed toes as you’re transferring materials from one lab bench to another. You could also stub your toe on one of the lab bench legs or casters.

Shelter Your Materials

It’s important to exercise care storing, segregating and disposing of chemicals.  Make sure acids are stored in an acid cabinet or in plastic containers and tubs. Nitric acid should be stored separately.

As a general rule you want to keep waste containers and fume hoods closed whenever possible. Secure gas cylinders with safety caps when not in use. Also be sure that unwanted chemicals are disposed of using proper hazardous material disposal procedures.

A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place

Spills create a great safety risk. You should make sure that spill supplies are conveniently located and easily accessible. Remove clutter from the top of your dedicated lab furniture, and from around the sides of your lab benches. It’s a lot easier to keep exits and aisles clear if everything has its place in your lab.

You also don’t want a spaghetti-pile of cables and extension cords, which can be a trip hazard or cause equipment to fall off your lab bench if someone pulls on a cord that’s gotten tangled. That’s why we design our dedicated lab furniture with grommets that arrange cables and vacuum hoses to both protect them and keep them from becoming tangled and causing accidents.

Making labs safer is one of the reasons why we believe dedicated lab furniture is worth the investment. Contact us today with your questions and we’ll share more about why our well-designed lab benches can improve safety and reliability in your laboratory.