7 Tips That Will Help You to Stay Safe Working in Laboratories


Running a laboratory is a necessity in many different industries, however, when it comes to the safety of the lab, not a lot of entrepreneurs are handling it right. You see, the issue of safety budget and safety management is often under the jurisdiction of someone from upper management. More often than not, this is someone who never worked in a lab, which might make things a tad more difficult. Still, by consulting the right people and investing a fair amount of research into it, you can indeed achieve a lot. With that in mind, here are the top seven tips to help you make work in the laboratory a lot safer.

  1. Proper training

One of the biggest problems with working in labs lies in the fact that the majority of tasks require high skill, knowledge and precision levels, which one can’t just acquire by intuition. This is why they need to be properly trained. This is your opportunity to implement all the necessary safety procedures in your employees. Keep in mind that a lot of tasks, in time, become quite automated. This means that by insisting on safety first, you can train your employees to follow these procedures without even thinking about them. 

The biggest problem with achieving this in the laboratory lies in the fact that it takes a lot of time and supervision. Seeing as how lab workers often fall under a much higher paygrade than average workers, putting someone in charge to supervise a new hire is a costly affair. However, once you stop looking at this as sheer productivity and start seeing it as an investment in safety, the whole affair will quickly appear far more cost-effective.

  1. Make sure everyone wears adequate PPE

The next thing that’s of the essence is to ensure that everyone wears the necessary PPE. Now, the very basic piece of personal lab equipment is the so-called lab coat. The reason why this is so important is because it’s a clean, thick piece of clothing that acts as an extra protective layer. Also, it also comes with long sleeves, which, together with safety gloves, gives you the basic amount of protection. Still, with some chemicals and materials, this might just not be enough. Instead, what you need are the fully encapsulating chemical protective suit and a self-contained breathing apparatus. Sure, this won’t always be the case but it all depends on the inventory of your lab and the type of work that you do.

  1. Provide proper equipment

One of the main reasons for so many disasters in the workplace is the fact that people are expected to handle delicate and sensitive materials with crude or inadequate equipment. This is why it’s so important that every company that operates a lab has a reliable supplier of lab equipment on their side. This includes everything from glassware to weathering testers and refrigerators. Other than just boosting safety, this improves the outcome of any project that you’re currently engaged in. Also, it helps you drastically improve the productivity of the lab in question.

  1. Safe containers

When it comes to the organization of the lab, you need to bear a couple of things in mind. First of all, you need to know where everything is. Ideally, you would always be extra careful but there are some materials that you need to be extra, extra, extra careful around. Being aware of where they are or, better yet, keeping these materials in special containers, may make everything a lot easier and safer for your lab workers. One more thing worth bearing in mind is the fact that these safe containers also need to be properly labeled. A “danger”, “hazard” or “radioactive material” sign, may save you from a lot of trouble.

  1. Perform incident investigations

One more thing you need to take into consideration is the fact that, no matter what you do, eventually, an incident of sorts is bound to happen. After the damage is already done, you need to learn how to conduct a proper incident investigation. First of all, you need to preserve and document the scene. Second, you need to collect information. Third, you need to figure out the root causes and finally, and most importantly, you need to implement corrective actions. This alone is crucial so that it ensures that the same type of incident never happens twice.

  1. Supervise your team

The worst thing about a lot of these incidents lies in the fact that people make some of the most ridiculous, reckless and avoidable mistakes all the time. Sure, we’re not suggesting that you look over everyone’s shoulder 24/7 but, at the same time, you can’t allow them to eat in the lab or apply make-up there. First of all, it’s not sanitary and they could seriously tamper with some of the materials that you’re using. Second, it’s not safe for them. Some go as far as to touch toxic materials and then readjust their contact lenses with their bare hands. While this may sound extreme or even not-likely, you would be surprised at just how many similarly disastrously-ridiculous events have happened.

  1. Prepare an emergency procedure

The very last thing you need to keep in mind is the importance of preparing a proper emergency procedure for your business. In a lab, there are so many things that can go wrong, seeing as how your inventory contains flammable, fragile, toxic and, depending on the industry in question, even contagious materials. What matters the most is that you develop a unique and effective emergency procedure for your lab. When it comes to this, you first need to consult experts in the field. Take as much time as you need to figure this out.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, while the majority of the above-listed tips may sound intuitive or even logical, the truth is that you just can’t expect people in this work environment to implement them on their own. They often need some help, guidance and training, as well as adequate equipment. By providing all of this, you’ll already resolve one huge matter.

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