One too many superhero movies may have you convinced that lab accidents lead to incredible powers, but 9 times out of 10 that doesn’t happen in the real world. Laboratories demand the utmost care and attention in order to avoid safety hazards and keep yourself as well as others in the lab safe. Here’s how to work in a lab safely:
1. Always wear protective clothing.
Step one is to show up prepared. Wear closed toe shoes, long sleeves, and pants in addition to a lab coat and safety glasses. Also ensure that if you have long hair you tie it back, and wear either stud earrings or no jewelry whatsoever. Bracelets and rings should be removed and placed somewhere safe, not just because they could get in the way but also because certain solutions could ruin the finish.
2. If anything gets on your skin or in your eyes, immediately head to an emergency eyewash or safety shower station.
They’re there for a reason. If anything gets into your eyes, you need to flush them out immediately. Head to an eyewash station and rinse out your eyes for at least 15 minutes, rotating your eyes around to ensure you’re getting any and all contaminants out. If anything gets on your skin or you have a major spill, you might need to head to the safety shower immediately. Take off anything contaminated, even under clothing, and rinse for at least 15 minutes.
3. If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it or mix it with anything.
Sure, mystery substances are intriguing, but they can also be volatile and highly toxic. If you come across any unmarked containers or don’t know what a certain chemical is or does, don’t mess with it. If you’re really curious, find the lab supervisor and get assistance from them.
4. Stay aware of your surroundings.
Labs are no place for horseplay or messing around. Lack of attention leads to accidents, so make sure you’re always paying attention to what’s going on around you. This can help you avoid bumping into others who are carrying delicate equipment, knocking over vials, or causing any other avoidable accident.