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Lab Safety for Chemical Labs

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Biology Labs Student Page   

lab rat

Everyone must be responsible enough to look out for everyone else in lab.  No horse-play allowed, EVER.  Lack of pre-lab preparation is the biggest problem related to lab safety.  If you or your group members are unprepared for lab you will waist time and be more inclined to make mistakes.

Safety Glasses must be worn any time you are in lab.

Contact lenses should NOT be worn during chemical labs.

bulletIt is almost impossible to remove contacts after chemicals have been splashed into the eyes.
bulletChemicals trapped under contacts will damage the eye even more than normal.
bulletThe plastic used for some types of contact lenses is permeable to vapors found in the laboratory.  If these vapors are trapped behind the lens, extensive irritation may occur.

  All students will be notified of upcoming lab at least one day in advance.

Long hair, bulky clothing, rings, watches, dangling jewelry are dangerous in lab.


long hair should be tied back using some type of hair clip


loose clothing should be avoided the day of lab (big sleeves, collars that hang down, neck ties, etc.)


dangling jewelry should be removed during lab (ear rings, bracelets, etc.)


Accidents Can Happen: 

Remain calm and report it immediately to the teacher.


Broken Glass:

bulletStop and report it immediately.  Do not move until your teacher says it is safe to do so.  There may be small bits of glass that you do no notice. 
bulletYour teacher will collect the broken glass, not you.  More minor cuts occur after this type of accident than during it.
bulletChemical spills are often involved with glass breakage.  Follow those rules if it occurs.


Cuts and Scrapes:

bulletReport the situation to the teacher and let her help the injured person. 
bulletThere is always a possibility of infection.  For this reason you should report any cut or scrape, even if there is no visible blood.
bulletDo not come into contact with another’s person’s blood.
bulletIf there is blood at any lab station, everyone is to turn off all burners and move to your seat in the classroom area until told it is safe to return to the lab.


Chemical Spills:

bulletDepending on the chemical spilled, we might just have to clean it up or we might have a more dangerous situation.
bulletThe most potentially dangerous chemicals used in our lab are corrosive acids and bases.  Even though you will be using chemicals that have been diluted, you should always treat acids and bases with care.
bulletYou are to treat all spills as DANGEROUS.
bulletStay where you are and let your teacher advise you about what to do.
bulletWe will discuss methods for treating different types of spills in class.
bulletRemember that broken glass often occurs along with chemical spills.  Be prepared to follow those guidelines as well.


bulletBunsen burners:  if a malfunction occurs, turn off the burner and notify your teacher.
bulletWhen you are not actively heating something – turn the burner off.
bulletSomeone in your group must always be watching the flame (the watcher of the flame!)
bulletIf a paper fire occurs, push the paper into the lab sink and turn on the water.
bulletClothing or Hair:  Don’t panic:  If you are involved, stay where you are – help is coming.  Your partners should get the fire blanket.  Everyone else should stay away.
bulletThe teacher is the only authorized person to use the fire extinguisher.


Lab Safety Equipment


Eye Wash Station:

bulletThe station should only be used if chemicals come in contact with the eyes.
bulletEyelids have to be forcibly opened to ensure effective washing behind the eyelid.
bulletBe sure to wash from the nose out to the ear.  This will avoid washing chemicals back into the eye or into an unaffected eye.
bulletFlood eyes and eyelids with water for a minimum of 15 minutes.
bulletContacts should not be worn during labs.  If you are wearing them when involved with an accident, remove them as soon as possible to rinse eyes of any harmful chemicals.
bulletAfter the teacher determines that the eyes are completely flushed, both of the student’s eyes should be covered with a clean or sterile gauze.


Safety Shower:

bulletIt provides an effective means of treatment in the event that large amounts of chemicals are spilled or splashed onto the skin or clothing.
bulletAs long as the handle is pulled down, the safety shower will supply a continuous stream of water to cover the entire body.
bulletIndividuals should remove clothing, including shoes and jewelry, while under an operating shower.


Fire Blanket:

bulletFire blankets are not the best means to extinguish a fire.  They may be used to extinguish clothing that is burning, but should never be used on any other type of fire.
bulletFire blankets are a good means to keep shock victims warm or to cover large chemical spills.


Fire Extinguisher:

bulletFire extinguishers are classified according to a particular fire type and are given the same letter and symbol classification as that of the fire.
bulletType A – combustible wood, cloth, paper, rubber,  and plastics.
bulletType B -  flammable liquids, oil, grease, and paint thinners.
bulletType C -  energized electrical equipment
bulletType D -  combustible metals (Mg, Ti, Na, Li, K)
bulletMultipurpose Extinguishers are effective against types A, B, and C fires
bulletTo effectively operate an extinguisher, think P-A-S-S
bulletP --  pull the pin
bulletA-- aim the hose a the base of the fire
bulletS – squeeze the handle
bulletS – sweep the hose back and forth
bulletNever use water on a Type B fire.  These liquids float on water and water can spread the burning liquid.  Water makes hot grease splatter, and can cause burns.  Cover the burning grease with sand or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
bulletNever use water on a Type C fire.  Water can cause a severe electric shock. 






Fire Alarm Station:

bulletBe able to locate the nearest fire alarm pull station in case of an emergency.

Waste Disposal Containers:


Be able to locate the container with lid designated for chemical waste. 


Know where the box for broken glass is kept.

Emergency Exits:

bulletBe able to locate all exits and know the fire escape plan for your classroom.



Being Prepared Checklist for school:

bulletKnow all exits.
bulletPractice drills seriously.
bulletKnow locations of safety equipment and extinguishers.
bulletReport any safety hazards to the teacher.
bulletBe sure smoke detectors work.


Common Sense Guidelines:

bulletStay calm.  Help others to stay calm.
bulletNotify a teacher immediately.
bulletAvoid smoke-filled passageways.  If you must pass through a smoke-filled area, crawl on hands an knees.  If possible, wrap a wet towel around your nose and mouth.
bulletClose doors when leaving an area.  Never open a door that is hot to the touch.
bulletIf your clothes do catch fire, DO NOT RUN.  Roll on the floor or wrap yourself in a fire blanket or rug.

  Take the safety test

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