In a Science Laboratory, safety is a topmost priority. A laboratory cannot just cater to science based observations, or be a sanctuary for conducting studies to reform theories and observations, but it should also provide and ensure the wellness of the people who work within it. Science laboratories often have the most dangerous facilities and substances, and improper handling or abuse of these could lead to injuries and illness.
Therefore, working at a laboratory requires various safety rules and equipment. Here are some tips to help one choose safety items intended for a laboratory setting.
Skill level of users. Different science laboratories are meant for different skill sets. Science labs for toddlers are meant for simple observations. Science labs for elementary students are intended to learn science fundamentals. High school laboratories teach life theories and some higher level experiments. Advanced science laboratories for accelerated science enthusiasts are used to test the application of fundamentals and other theories. Each of these groups needs different degrees of protection, as they use different types of equipments and substances.
Body protection. Anyone who enters a science laboratory should be protected. There are a number of corrosive substances that are housed and stocked in a science lab, meant for various experiments and all of these could cause internal and external harm. Here are some materials a laboratory would require to prevent these.
a. Hair nets or Laboratory Caps are used to protect the head. These are also meant to prevent the possibility of hair falling into substances, and resulting in burns or failed experiments.
b. Goggles are used to protect the eyes from smoke or other harmful fragments from possible explosions due to misuse of equipments. These must be made with durable plastic and rubber.
c. Dust or Gas Masks are meant to protect the nose and mouth for possible foreign objects or harmful fumes and odor that may threaten the function of internal organs. These must be breathable and should cover nose and mouth area.
d. Rubber Gloves are used to protect the hands of anyone who handles potentially corrosive or burning substance. Hands are one the most important parts of the body used in experimentation, and therefore gloves should be both durable and flexible.
e. Lab Gowns are meant to protect the skin and the clothes. Corrosive substances may cause burns or cuts to the skin if these are spilled or splattered due to improper handling of flasks. Lab gowns should be easy to wear and take off, and must allow for free movement.
Room Equipment. Accidents do happen, and a laboratory is a dangerous place for disasters like fire to start in. Therefore, having safety equipment around is a must.
a. Fire Extinguishers should always be present and situated in an easy to reach area. It should be easy to use, or at least have simple, easy to understand instructions. The tank should be certified by the local fire department, and should be checked or refilled every month.
b. First Aid Kits are also an essential part of any laboratory. These should contain disinfectants and other medicines that can treat minor burns and cuts due to accidents or misuse of lab equipments.
A laboratory should be a place of learning and discovery. Knowing that safety equipment is on hand can help in boosting one’s confidence and peace of mind, and therefore enables a student, technician or experimenter to focus on the tasks at hand.