The laboratory represents a dangerous environment, since there are many potential biological, physical, chemical, and radioactive hazards there. They have a harmful effect on the human body and they may cause different injuries and illnesses. Hazardous substances can easily enter the human organism by breathing in the form of gases and dust, coming into contact with eyes or skin, and when contaminated drink or food is consumed (Hughes & Hughes, 2008). To minimize and avoid potential risks, a person should adhere to the major principles of safety while working in the laboratory. The usage of appropriate laboratory safety practices such as proper handwashing procedure, personal safety protocols, and proper disposal practices helps eliminate person’s and his/her partners’ exposure to a hazard. These three safety practices are critical within the laboratory environment, whereas they maintain safe working conditions.
Methods and Materials
Proper handwashing technique is one of the essential portions of the lab. The running warm or cold water, soap, and paper towels are necessary to perform the handwashing procedure accurately. First, a person should remove all hand and wrist jewelry. After that, he/she should turn on the tap to wet his/her hands with clean water. The next stage of handwashing requires applying soap. A person should rub his/her hands together with the soap diligently to lather them. It is crucial for the person to lather the back of the hands, between the fingers as well as scrub the fingertips and under the nails, whereas they are ordinarily missed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Additionally, a nailbrush may be applied to remove the remnants of dirt from under the nail. It takes approximately 20 seconds to clean the hands completely. Then, the person should carefully rinse the hands under the running water. Lastly, the hands should be dried with the paper towel.
Personal safety protocols represent the second portion of the lab. Such protocols involve the protective equipment that must be used in the laboratory, especially in the case of conducting any experiments. Whereas different types of chemicals threaten the human body, the protective equipment serves to ensure the safety for human eyes, skin, and respiratory organs. Since human eyes are vulnerable to impact by a variety of chemicals, it is important to protect them. Ordinary prescription glasses or even safety glasses with side protection do not guarantee the safety for the eyes and face within the laboratory environment. Thus, chemical splash googles or a face shield must be used in the laboratory to protect human eyes, face, and neck from an adverse impact of a chemical splash, intense light sources, laser, and ultraviolet (Hill & Finster, 2010). While working in the laboratory, appropriate clothing is also required. Since chemical exposure to the human skin may have serious consequences, it is an urgent priority to avoid a direct contact with lab chemicals and protect the skin. To achieve this aim, a person should completely cover his/her skin. Thus, long pants must be put on. Lab coats are also recommended for permanent wearing. Close-toed shoes instead of open-toed ones should be worn in the laboratory because they completely cover the feet and provide an adequate protection from any chemical spills. Moreover, chemicals tend to affect the hands and thereby, special precautions should be performed to protect them. Therefore, wearing protective gloves is critical in the laboratory. Different gloves are designed for various types of work in the lab. They differ in the cuff length, size, thickness, and the material used for their production. Latex and nitrile gloves are ordinarily used in the laboratory environment. Some lab chemicals are not safe to breathe in. Simple disposable masks can prevent human respiratory organs from the negative impact of chemicals. A person’s hair should be tied back, especially in the case of using the Bunsen burner. Every person who works in the laboratory area should be familiar with the general content of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). The CHP aims to protect laboratory workers. Therefore, it is easily available to everyone. The CHP contains information about the specific hazards and resources that are present at the institution (Hill & Finster, 2010). It is prohibited to bring food or drink to the laboratory. Thus, they should be disposed before entering the lab. Furthermore, a person who intends to conduct any experiment should foremost learn about the potential hazards he/she may face in the process of such experiments. While working with infectious microorganisms, the biological safety cabinet should be used. When any accident happens in the lab, a person should immediately inform the instructor.
Proper disposal practices belong to the third portion of the lab. Before one conducts an experiment, one should label chemicals clearly and store them (Office of Environmental Health and Safety, 2008). When an experiment is completed, all chemical wastes should be disposed in a safe and environmentally responsible way. Four disposal bins for different purposes are available in the laboratory. These are as the biohazard bin, the sharps container, the regular trashcan, and a recycling bin. Various chemical wastes must be kept in a suitable bin. Thus, the biohazard bin is designed to biohazardous materials. Biohazardous wastes include gloves contaminated with infectious material or chemicals, pipette tips with biological specimen and bacterial culture material, culture plates and containers, specimen vials, and towels with biological contamination. The sharps container serves for keeping the following wastes: microscope slides, small glass and broken tubes, disposable syringes and needles as well as scalpels and Pasteur pipettes. The regular trashcan or a recycling bin is used to hold paper towels, unnecessary lab notes, or uncontaminated plastic bottles and glass. Reusable tools need sterilization. Therefore, they must be put in the autoclave, in which they are treated with high temperature and steam (Hill & Finster, 2010). If the sterilization is not necessary, the used tools should be placed in the sink. Before and after conducting an experiment, the lab bench should be cleaned and properly disinfected. Nevertheless, every person in the lab should attempt to minimize hazardous chemical waste. It can be achieved by implementing the following strategies. A person should not take more of chemical than the experiment requires. In order to minimize the quantity of chemicals used, small-scale experiments should be conducted. Furthermore, a person must share the lab chemicals with his/her colleagues. It is critical to recycle and reuse tools wherever possible.
Hand hygiene plays an essential role in the human life since it helps prevent a big amount of health disorders. With the proper handwashing procedures, bacteria are removed from human hands. A person should wash his/her hands in the laboratory environment. Poor handwashing can lead to the contamination of the experiment with unacceptable bacteria. Moreover, hands should be carefully cleaned after the lab experiments to protect a person from infectious bacteria as well as eliminate spreading the bacteria to his/her colleagues. Handwashing is required after a person used gloves, whereas it prevents skin allergy and irritation. Bacteria can accumulate under finger and wrist jewelry. Thus, all jewelries must be removed to ensure proper handwashing. Wetting hands before applying soap helps a person lather his/ her hands better and, as a result, get rid of bacteria and prevent skin irritation. A nailbrush can be useful to remove bacteria from under the nails. A person’s hands are certainly germ-free after he/she rinses them. Drying hands with a paper towel also contributes to eliminating bacteria.
To prevent injuries, a person should adhere to the lab safety protocols in the laboratory area. Appropriate lab clothing protects the skin, whereas it serves as a protective barrier for chemical exposure. A lab coat and long pants must be worn in the lab since they eliminate the contact of chemicals with the skin. A vast range of chemical solutions and solvents can be harmful for human eyes. They even may cause a loss of vision. Thus, chemical splash googles and a face shield provide complete protection for the human eyes and face from chemical splashes as well as represent an excellent barrier from ultraviolet and lasers. Chemical spills also may occur in the lab. To prevent one’s feet from such an accident, closed toed shoes must be worn. Latex or nitrile gloves are essential while working in the laboratory. They minimize contact with chemical in a case of its splash or spill. Simple disposable masks ensure safety for human respiratory organs, whereas breathing in chemical vapors may damage them. An ignited Bunsen burner may be the source of an accident in the laboratory environment. It can set a person’s hair on fire if the hair is not tied back. Furthermore, the Bunsen burner may ignite the explosive chemicals if they stand near it. Thus, removing such chemicals eliminates the risk of an accident in the lab. Food and drink must not be taken in the laboratory whereas, firstly, they may damage the lab equipment, and secondly, they may be contaminated with chemicals, which may cause poisoning. Thus, leaving food and drink outside the lab is crucial and it prevents unpleasant emergencies. The biological safety cabinet is worth to utilize since it prevents the spread of infectious materials or microbiological agents. The instructor must be informed about any lab accident since it helps ensure safety for everyone present in the laboratory.
Proper disposal practices are efficient within the laboratory environment since they prevent the toxic waste emissions in the environment. In the case all hazardous materials are discarded properly into the hazard bin, people are aware that all things in the bin are dangerous. Thus, they take necessary precautions that are required while dealing with hazardous materials. When all unnecessary sharp objects are disposed into the sharps container, it helps everyone in the lab feel safe. Reusable tools should be sufficiently sterilized in the autoclave. It removes all bacteria and infectious materials from the tools. Therefore, they can be used again without any threat to the human health. The lab bench should remain clean and disinfected. It ensures that no bacteria contaminate the experiment and no objects can hurt the person as well as guarantees the safe working conditions for the next person. Minimizing hazardous waste promotes favorable environmental situation.
In conclusion, while working in the laboratory, the person faces many potential dangerous situations that are caused by different lab chemicals. Hazardous substances can damage human eyes, face, skin, and respiratory organs. Infectious materials may cause health disorders. The sharp laboratory tools can cut the person. Thus, to prevent such unwanted threats while handling the hazardous chemicals, the person should be aware of the proper lab safety procedures and implement them in the laboratory environment. Proper handwashing techniques, personal safety protocols, and proper disposal practices are critical to ensure safety in the lab and minimize the risk of various accidents. In a case the person adheres to the lab safety practices, it helps prevent his/her and his/her colleagues from being injured as well as protects the environment from toxic wastes.