Standard practices & procedures in laboratories

Written by mary jane
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Standard practices & procedures in laboratories
Standard laboratory practices include cleaning up chemical spills. (laboratory image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com)

Standard practices and procedures are often implemented in a laboratory environment because of the chemicals and biological elements that can be hazardous in a laboratory. The practices and regulations in place in the laboratory can differ, so familiarise yourself with the given practices of the specific laboratory you are working in. However, there are practices and procedures you will find in most laboratory environments.

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General Rules

The general laboratory practices you can expect to find in almost any laboratory include no smoking or eating while in the laboratory. There will often be separated areas where you can eat lunch or snacks or take a smoking break. You may also be required to wear safety goggles and gloves at all time while working in the laboratory, whether you are handling equipment or chemicals. Some laboratories are very strict with having guests at the laboratory, such as children. This is often associated with safety, as some scientists may be transporting dangerous chemicals.

Hazards and Chemicals

Biological hazards and chemical substances are often examined and handled in the laboratory. This can include samples that have come into the laboratory for testing. Some laboratories will require that the samples or chemicals are approved by a scientific or biological committee before the testing or examinations begin. Once the material or substances have been approved, the laboratory can have specific procedures or regulations in how the technicians are allowed to handle them. This can include specific safety equipment or specific transportation procedures when navigating around the laboratory.

Unattended Equipment

Some laboratory testing can take hours to complete, which means that the scientists may have to leave equipment operating for longer than 12 hours or overnight in some cases. Depending on the laboratory in question and the type of equipment being operated overnight, the procedures may vary. The potential hazards and dangers should be recognised and dealt with upfront before the technician leaves and the equipment should be monitored by the night shift security team or by other scientists throughout the day.

First Aid and Safety

Although a laboratory will have safety practices in place to avoid accidents, they tend to happen. Safety practices include avoiding obstructed or cluttered walkways and fire escapes, and knowing where the fire extinguishers and safety showers are located. The laboratory may require you to know first aid practices and CPR in case a technician is injured while working with chemical substances or biological hazard materials. The procedures include attending to the hurt technician, turning off the laboratory equipment and calling for medical assistance.

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