When working in a laboratory, there are constant threats to your well-being and the safety of everyone around you. By the very nature of the work, you may be dealing with volatile chemicals and hazardous materials, which is why it’s invaluable to know the safety hazards to avoid in laboratories. Be careful when working and know the possible dangers of the chemicals you are working with.
Fire and Explosions
Fires and explosions are always a threat when working with chemicals. Vapors from chemical compounds can travel relatively large distances and can be easily ignited when exposed to a spark or flame source. Heat sources are also a danger to physical safety, with the use of Bunsen burners being a common cause of burns.
Ensure you have the right equipment to deal with fires and burn risks. Have fire extinguishers readily available and require lab personnel to wear flame-resistant clothing when necessary.
Know what chemicals and materials you have in the lab and clearly label them. Many materials can be dangerous to handle without the correct equipment and can cause irritation of the skin or chemical burns. If the chemical does not cause burns, it may be absorbed into the skin, which can cause allergic reactions and other serious health concerns.
Establish methods to properly manage the hazardous waste in your lab, whether it be storing it, using it, or disposing of it. Improper handling will result in safety risks and exposure to dangerous chemicals.
When mixing chemicals, the results that occur can pose a danger to your health. Chemical mixtures can create toxic fumes that, if inhaled, will cause damage to membranes in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Be aware of the solvents you are dealing with and the typical reaction they have to human contact. Side-effects of inhaling fumes may not appear for weeks or months but can result in severe respiratory diseases.
Distance From Fumes
To avoid inhaling dangerous fumes, maintain a safe distance from any solvents. Experiments should also be conducted with proper ventilation to prevent dangerous fumes from coming into contact with the body.
Safety hazards while working in a laboratory are an ever-present danger. You can only learn of the common risks you will face and take the necessary steps to try and avoid those situations. Or, if a situation cannot be avoided, you can mitigate the damage as much as possible.