Safety Equipment Every Lab Needs

  • Working in a laboratory carries numerous risks with it, regardless of the type of operation. Hazardous chemicals can present a personal threat to the employees, but also cause fires, explosions or other kinds of structural damage to both premises and people. For these reasons, all safety measures must be followed. Probably the largest aspect of that is having all the safety equipment, both general and personal gear. The employees must be properly trained to use every piece of equipment and how to respond to different types of emergencies. Not only will your staff be more motivated, but also all the vital and expensive appliances will last longer!  

    Covering the basics

    First things first, every room needs to be equipped with a first aid kit, which should be stored within reach. Meaning, it should not be kept in a locked drawer, or at a high place requiring ladders or something similar. Accidents can happen at any time, and the staff must know where to find the kit as soon as it occurs. Bandages, sterile eye pads and wound dressings are just some of the crucial items to be available at all times.

    Another equally important solution to a dangerous situation which must be within reach is a fire extinguisher. Every laboratory surely contains easily flammable substances, some of which can badly react with oxygen in the air. In order to minimize the damage, every staff member ought to go through a training of use, and constantly be aware where the closest fire extinguisher is located. 

    Furthermore, since the fire in a laboratory can occur from violent reactions of certain chemicals, personnel can find themselves in a position that they are not sure what the exact source was. Such circumstances require additional solutions to stopping a fire, and in cases of laboratories, the best alternative is a fire blanket, which should also be provided for every room in the facility.   

    Personal safety gear

    Prevention is the best medicine, so when talking about staff members in the lab, they must be required to wear their personal gear at all times. Hazardous chemicals can be seriously dangerous in reaction with skin, and especially eyes. To prevent various accidents, people should not be allowed in the lab without several basic items. For starters, lab coats are not a fashion item, but rather serve an important purpose of being a protective layer in case of any chemical spills. For the same reason, staff members must wear long pants and closed toe shoes. 

    The most vulnerable part of your head, which must be covered not only from the front, but from the sides as well, is the area around the eyes. Safety goggles are definitely a must and to be worn whenever in the laboratory premises. Proper eye protection is an essential aspect of staying safe, since numerous chemicals can leave permanent and serious damage, even cause blindness. Safety goggles are among the items which should be personalized, as different materials can be crucial here. Furthermore, some can protect you from laser and other radiation risks. Another thing to pay attention to is that goggles are not a piece of equipment for which one size fits all, but rather ought to be provided in various sizes. If the process in question has an obvious potential of spilling or other exploding reactions, facial shields should also be used to protect it.

    It is the same case with disposable gloves, in terms of sizes. Employees must feel comfortable in them, as they will be dealing with delicate movements in combination with dangerous substances. It is in the very name, it is important to emphasize they should not be used more than once. Residues of chemicals from the previous day can react badly, and the purpose is not fulfilled. The best materials for hand protection are latex, vinyl and nitrile, as the features of natural rubber ensure flexibility.

    Storage cabinets and fume hoods

    One of the most important aspects of any laboratory work is properly storing those hazardous substances at the exact temperatures they require. Having enough laboratory safe refrigerators, specifically designed cabinets and fume hoods will lower the possibility of accidents which don’t involve people. 

    Because, for example, some substances cannot even be stored in the same refrigerator, regardless of them being in separate containers. There are various other beneficial features of lab equipment which are specifically designed for that environment, such as magnetic doors and customization of the exact temperature levels.

    Chemical fume hoods are crucial as well, especially for laboratories working with gases, as they serve a large purpose of staff protection. They are used to draw out the dangerous fumes into the ventilation system, reducing the percentage of fumes and other residues from processes from the air. It goes without saying that ventilation systems must be of great quality!

    Eye-washing stations and safety showers

    Most of the abovementioned is oriented towards preventive measures and protection, but sometimes, accidents will occur. In case that somehow a spill from a liquid chemical or some dangerous vapours has ended up on a staff member, it needs to be dealt with immediately! As we’ve mentioned, eyes are most vulnerable so every room in the facility must have at least one eye washing station. They need to be close to the working area, so that they are easily accessed in case of an accident. 

    If an accident involves hazardous substance in contact with skin, thorough rinsing of the whole body is a must! For this reason, a safety shower is another paramount for any type of a laboratory. 

    Conclusion

    As any other workplace, a laboratory needs to be a safe space for the employees, especially considering the very nature of substances to be dealing with, as well as the surrounding environment. In that vein, not only the safety equipment must exist, but all the personnel must be trained to properly use it. Furthermore, whenever a kit is used, such as a first aid or a spill one, it must be replaced as soon as possible. We must think of our co-workers, who might end up in a similar situation after us. Being precautious at all times will significantly lower the risks, but we need to be educated on how to appropriately respond to various hazardous situations which come with this job.