For hundreds of years, people have learnt about the world by conducting experiments and tests. Many of these experiments and tests have been conducted in the safe environment of a scientific laboratory. The labs are safe in part because lab workers are required to establish and follow specific policies and procedures. Regardless of what kind of tests or experiments people perform in a lab, they must follow certain standard policies and procedures.
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Contamination in a lab can throw off the results of lab tests and experiments. It also may make people sick. For this reason, lab workers should wash their hands before and after they handle equipment or materials. They also should clean up their work area after completing the experiment or test. This includes disposing of materials according to health and sanitation regulations.
Clothing and Safety Gear
Lab workers should avoid loose clothing and accessories, as these can catch on equipment or materials. Clothes should cover as much skin as possible to create a barrier between the body and potential hazards. Hair should be worn up or under a lab cap. Lab workers should wear gloves at all times and goggles any time there is a chance of injury to the eyes.
Lab workers should store limited amounts of materials, especially chemicals, in the lab. This reduces the amount of materials that can burn, explode or cause injury. All chemicals should be stored according to the manufacturer's guidelines in leakproof containers that have clear labels. If a lab worker doesn't know what something is, he or she must assume that the material is a hazard and handle it accordingly. Unless specifically designed for storage, equipment hoods are not considered to be proper storage areas.
Lab workers should work under the buddy system, with a minimum of two people in the lab at a time. If this isn't possible, then lab workers should be monitored via surveillance systems or have radio or phone check-ins.
Lab workers should check all equipment for functionality before beginning work. Any equipment that is in need of repair needs to be reported and its use discontinued until repairs are completed. Any time workers leave the lab empty, they must check that all powered equipment is turned off and put away.
Food and Drinks
Absolutely no eating, drinking or storage of food is permitted in the lab. The risk for these items becoming contaminated by potential toxins is too great.
Lab workers should take precautions against injury. They should have a working fire extinguisher, gas sensors and an emergency shower immediately accessible.
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