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Safe Laboratory Practices

To ensure laboratory safety, follow safe laboratory practices, including the following:
  • Know about the chemicals and hazards associated with your laboratory.
  • Know what to do in different emergency situations.
  • Know how to read and interpret MSDSs.
  • Wear appropriate attire and personal protective equipment, as required.
  • Follow safe practices for working with chemicals. (Refer to the Chemical Safety chapter for more information.)
  • Ice from a laboratory ice machine should not be used for human consumption.
  • Dedicate microwave ovens and other heating devices exclusively for food or for laboratory operations. Ensure that ovens are clearly labeled to indicate their function.
  • Do not wear contact lenses around chemicals, fumes, dust particles, or other hazardous materials.
  • Protect unattended operations from utility failures and other potential problems that could lead to overheating or other hazardous events.
  • Avoid working alone in a laboratory.
  • Avoid producing aerosols.
  • Use extreme care when working with needles, blades, and glass.
  • Do not eat, drink, or use tobacco products in the laboratory.
  • Do not mouth pipet.
  • Clean contaminated equipment and spills immediately. Avoid contaminating equipment with mercury. Clean mercury spills immediately. (Chronic exposure to mercury can result from a few drops left uncleaned.)
  • Do not allow children in the laboratory. (It is a violation of state law for a child to be unattended in a place that presents a risk of harm.)
  • Keep laboratory doors closed.
  • Decontaminate all affected equipment.
  • Avoid using dry ice in enclosed areas. (Dry ice can produce elevated carbon dioxide levels.)
  • Dry ice mixed with isopropanol or ethanol may cause frost bite.
  • Hallways, corridors, and exit ways must be kept clear. Do not locate (even temporarily) laboratory equipment or supplies in these areas.

IMPORTANT: Never underestimate the hazards associated with a laboratory. If you are unsure about what you are doing, get assistance. Do not use unfamiliar chemicals, equipment, or procedures alone.