Five Ways to Improve Your Lab Safety

When working in a laboratory, you need to ensure it is a safety centric workplace. To do that, you should be using the right lab equipment, and have the necessary practices in place to help prevent any accidents.

A project ‘under laboratory conditions’ suggests precise calculations, material measurement and high levels of cleanliness. It also means the project needs to be handled with the utmost attention for the safety and security of everyone involved.

A study written by the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety (UCCLS), found 30% of researchers are aware of at least one “major” injury (serious enough to require medical attention) occurring in a laboratory they were working in. Approximately 60% of chemistry researchers thought that safety in their laboratories could be improved overall.

Laboratory safety has increased in priority over the past few years. Organisations such as the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the US National Research Council (NRC) producing new and improved guidelines and reports on laboratory safety. Focusing especially on academic settings. In 2015, the ACS published “Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories: Guidelines”, developed by the Hazards Identification and Evaluation Task Force of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Chemical Safety. In an effort to establish a standard for academics and help prevent injuries and accidents in teaching laboratories.

Despite laboratories already prioritising safety, there is still ways to enhance procedures and reduce the risk of anyone being seriously injured. Below are five tips every laboratory needs to implement if they haven’t already:

Key Safety Steps

Two Ohaus products superimposed on a lab bench style background.

1. Get to Know Your Laboratory Equipment Best Practices

When stocking your laboratory with equipment, it’s worth checking with the current Environmental Health & Safety guidelines. As it can help determine if a piece of equipment is suitable for a professional lab environment.

Looking out for safety features and independent safety controls, gives you that extra help. The Ohaus Guardian 7000 series Hotplate Stirrers utilise SafetyHeat and SmartLink technology. Both features can shut the device off automatically to prevent overheating. The Frontier 5000 Series Multi-Function Centrifuges has an imbalance detection and automatic rotor recognition to ensure the device is used properly, every time. It is recommended to perform a regular inspection on all your laboratory equipment for wear, deterioration, and general cleanliness. This quick check will help you predict any problems and allow you to action on it before it becomes an issue.

Lab glassware holding clamps and a beaker in a clamp with safety chain.

2. Be Reassured Your Glassware is Secure​

You need to take extra care when using glassware in a laboratory setting. Even strong tempered glass is weakened by the slightest crack. It is important to use clamps and supports to ensure the glassware is held securely when being used. The Ohaus Labjaw Clamps come in seven unique styles to give you added protection against glassware accidents.

Person holding a petri dish and swab above a spirit burner and other petri dishes on lab bench surface.

3. Fire Prevention Equipment and Training Available

A laboratory that is well stocked with volatile chemicals and Bunsen burners must be ready in case of a fire emergency. Standard fire extinguishers, fire blankets and showers, should to be easily accessible and checked frequently to ensure they are in working order. So, if the worst does happen, there’re procedures in place to protect everyone in the lab.

Female in face mask, gown and gloves holding a pari of safety glasses out in front of her.

4. Everyone Must Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Laboratories must be prepared for not just fires, but also chemical spills or potentially harmful chemicals coming into contact with eyes and unprotected skin. Everyone entering the lab must wear a lab coat, gloves and wear eye protection. For general laboratory purposes, nitrile gloves are best to use because they offer sensitivity and dexterity. Nitrile gloves are durable and are safe for those with latex allergies.

Row of ring binders containing safety information documents.

5. Keep Proper Safety Documentation Accessible​

If an accident does occur, there are procedures every lab worker, needs to know. Whether it’s the complete layout of the lab, what chemicals and other materials are stored, or where to find the correct equipment or protocols for dealing with the accident. The Environmental Health & Safety Organisation recommends keeping a digital and printed copy of the Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on site. Including a copy of the detailed chemical inventory lists, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and general Laboratory Safety Manuals, filed together and easily accessible. This will help your lab become more proactive in it’s safety measures; therefore better equipped for dealing with emergencies if they occur.

At Gem Scientific, we offer an extensive range of Ohaus Equipment including Guardian 7000 Hotplate Stirrers and Frontier 5000 Multi-Function Centrifuges. There are three Guardian 7000 options available which are a 15-litre Aluminium plate, 18-litre and a 20-litre ceramic plate. We also have 5 options for the Frontier 5000, which include some refrigeration models. In addition, we can supply your laboratory with various lab accessories, including the Ohaus Labjaw clamps to help better support your glassware.

To further discuss the Ohaus stirrers, centrifuges and anything mentioned in this blog, contact our team at, 01924 444577 or on LiveChat on our website during business hours

This blog was originally posted on Ohaus’ website and is reproduced with permission

Five Ways to Improve Your Lab Safety
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Five Ways to Improve Your Lab Safety
Working in a laboratory? You need to ensure it is a safe workplace, to do that, you should be using the right lab equipment and procedures in place to prevent any accidents.
Gem Scientific
Gem Scientific (courtesy of Ohaus Inc.)
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