Proper Laboratory Practice

Preventing Accidents

Proper lab practice will help keep you and the people around you safe. Here are a few topics that are of great importance:

Labeling - Unlabeled Today, Unknown Tomorrow

When transferring to smaller containers or when making solutions of chemicals, it is very important to label the new container's contents.

A good label should have the full chemical name (i.e. lead nitrate), concentration (i.e. 1M), date of transfer/dilution (i.e. 7-18-11), any special hazards (i.e. carcinogen) and your initials (i.e. BDE). Using labels with NFPA 704 diamonds is a plus.

Working in the Lab - Always have a partner

It is never a good idea to work alone in the lab. Having a partner greatly increases the chances of you getting timely help if you become incapacitated.

Housekeeping - A Clean Lab is a Safe Lab

Keeping your work area clean is important to your safety and the safety of others. A cluttered workspace can lead to spills, broken glass, and even fires. It is also important to keep chairs, book bags, and other items out of the way to prevent trips and falls.

No Food or Drinks in Labs or Stockrooms

Food and drink in a laboratory is bad practice and an accident waiting to happen. Food and drink in the lab may be subject to contamination with dangerous chemicals, that you could then ingest.

As ridiculous as it may sound, there have been instances of ethylene glycol poisonings resulting from a person accidentally drinking out of the wrong container. Ethylene glycol (commonly known as antifreeze) is a clear, sweet intoxicating liquid that is quite toxic. Its LD50 is only 1.4mL/kg, meaning a 70kg person would require less than 100mL for lethal toxicity, with the LDLO, or the lowest lethal dose for adults being only 30mL or about two tablespoons.


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