The Laboratory Safety Institute’s
Laboratory Safety Guidelines
Steps Requiring Minimal Expense
- Have a written health, safety and environmental affairs (HS&E) policy statement.
- Organize a departmental HS&E committee of employees, management, faculty, staff and students that will meet regularly to discuss HS&E issues.
- Develop an HS&E orientation for all new employees and students.
- Encourage employees and students to care about their health and safety and that of others.
- Involve every employee and student in some aspect of the safety program and give each specific responsibilities.
- Provide incentives to employees and students for safety performance.
- Require all employees to read the appropriate safety manual. Require student to read the institutions’s laboratory safety rules. Have both groups sign a statement that they have done so, understand the contents, and agree to follow the procedures and practices. Keep these statements on file in the department office.
- Conduct periodic, unannounced laboratory inspections to identify and correct hazardous conditions and unsafe practices. Involve students and employees in simulated OSHA inspections.
- Make learning how to be safe an integral and important part of science education, your work, and your life.
- Schedule regular departmental safety meetings for all students and employees to discuss the results of inspections and aspects of laboratory safety.
- When conducting experiments with hazards, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the hazards?
- What are the worst possible things that could go wrong?
- How will I deal with them?
- What are the prudent practices, protective facilities and equipment necessary to minimize the risk of exposure to the hazards?
- Require that all accidents (incidents) be reported, evaluated by the departmental safety committee, and discussed at departmental safety meetings.
- Require every pre-lab/pre-experiment discussion to include consideration of the health and safety aspects.
- Don’t allow experiments to run unattended unless they are fail-safe.
- Forbid working alone in any laboratory and working without prior knowledge of a staff member.
- Extend they safety program beyond the laboratory to the automobile and the home.
- Allow only the minimum amounts of flammable liquids in each laboratory.
- Forbid smoking, eating, and drinking in the laboratory.
- Do not allow food to be stored in chemical refrigerators.
- Develop plans and conduct drills for dealing with emergencies such as fire, explosion, poisoning, chemical spill or vapor release, electric shock, bleeding and personal contamination.
- Require good housekeeping practices in all work areas.
- Display the phone numbers of the fire department, police department, and local ambulance either on or immediately next to every phone.
- Store acids and bases separately, and store fuels and oxidizers separately.
- Maintain a chemical inventory to avoid purchasing unnecessary quantities of chemicals.
- use warning signs to designate particular hazards.
- Develop specific work practices individual experiments, such as those that should be conducted only in a ventilated hood, or involve particularly hazardous material. When possible, most hazardous experiments should be done in a hood
Steps Requiring Moderate Expense
- Allocate a portion of the departmental budget to safety.
- Require the use of appropriate eye protection at all times in laboratories and areas where chemicals are transported.
- Provide adequate supplies of personal protective equipment – safety glasses, goggles, face shields, gloves, lab coats, and bench top shields.
- Provide fire extinguishers, safety showers, eye wash stations, first aid kits, fire blankets, and fume hoods in each laboratory and test or check monthly.
- Provide guards on all vacuum pumps and secure all compressed gas cylinders.
- Provide an appropriate supply of first aid equipment and instruction on its proper use.
- Provide fireproof cabinets for storage of flammable chemicals.
- Maintain a centrally located department safety library.
- Remove all electrical connections from inside chemical refrigerators and require magnetic closures.
- Require grounded plugs on all electrical equipment and install ground fault interrupters (GFI’s) where appropriate.
- Label all chemicals to show the name of the material, the nature and degree of hazard, the appropriate precautions, and the name of the person responsible for the container.
- Develop a program for dating stored chemicals and for rectifying or discarding them after a predetermined maximum period of storage.
- Developed a system for the legal, safe, and ecologically acceptable disposal of chemical wastes.
- Provide secure, adequately spaced, well ventilated storage of chemicals.