Safety Practices for Science Students
While working in the laboratory, students will have certain important responsibilities that do not apply to the other classrooms. You will be working with materials which, if handled carelessly or improperly, have the potential to cause serious injury and even death.
A science laboratory can be a safe place to work, if one is alert, cautious, and follows directions with care. The following practices should be studied and used in the lab:
1. Follow written and verbal instructions carefully. One should give laboratory procedures all of one’s interest, attention, and effort.
2. Prepare for each laboratory activity by reading all instructions before coming to class and review them before beginning work. Follow all directions and make note of any modification in procedure given by the instructor.
3. Perform only those laboratory activities where instructions and permission have been given by the teacher. If curious about other activities – ask the instructor.
4. Use only materials and equipment authorized by the instructor. Ask the instructor if not familiar with something and don’t know how to use it.
5. Check labels and instructions carefully and use in the proper manner.
6. Wear safety goggles whenever in the lab. A demonstration safety shield may also be needed. Regular eye glasses, while giving some protection, are inadequate when used alone for lab work.
7. Keep books, purses, and such items in other room. Take only lab manuals and maybe a calculator into the working area.
8. Student apparel should be appropriate for lab work. Long hanging necklaces, bulky jewelry, and excessive and bulky clothing should not be worn in the laboratory. Roll long sleeves up. Only closed shoes should be worn in the lab. Lab aprons should always be worn.
9. Confine long hair during lab and keep a hair tie in your drawer.
10. Students should conduct themselves in an appropriate manner while in the lab. This means no “horseplay” and not disturbing fellow students, as this can be dangerous in the middle of an experiment. It also means one should walk, not run, while in the lab. And, above all, it means one should show respect for fellow students and teacher, as well as the lab materials and equipment being used. Do not squirt the water bottles at each other!
11. Eating or drinking in the laboratory is not permitted. No gum either.
12. Never taste anything or touch chemicals with bare hands unless specifically instructed .
13. Never smell any chemical or solution. Never inhale when directly over containers. Use a fume hood when necessary.
14. Never carry hot equipment/dangerous chemicals through students.
15. Report any accident to the teacher immediately no matter how minor. This includes any burn, scratch, cut or contact with corrosive liquid on skin or clothing. Let me know of any allergies that you have. Also, report defective or broken equipment to the teacher.
hands thoroughly before leaving the lab. Wash
17. Never add water to acids; acids should be slowly and carefully added to water. In general, acid solutions should be done by the instructor unless students are told otherwise. (AA - add acid)
18. In case of a skin or clothes burn from an acid or alkali (base), rinse or flush the affected area immediately with plenty of running tap water. If the eye is involved, irrigate it without interruption for at least 15 minutes. Report the incident to the instructor.
19. Know the location of the emergency shower, eye and face wash fountain, fire blanket, fire extinguisher, closest fire alarm box, glass waste disposal containers, and exits.
20. Know the proper fire drill procedure and practice it.
21. Notify the teacher immediately if any smoke or fire is seen. Then follow the teacher’s instructions.
22. If a person’s hair or clothing catches fire, notify the teacher immediately and quickly use a fire blanket to surround the burning area. This deprives the fire of oxygen and snuffs it out. Then see that the victim is treated by the school nurse for shock and burns.
23. Every student should be instructed in the proper use of a fire extinguisher and know who is primarily responsible for its use.
24. Gas burners should be used only as instructed by the teacher.
25. Use a burner with extreme caution. Keep head and clothing away from the flame and turn it off when not in use. Warning: alcohol burner flames are often impossible to see in well-lit rooms.
26. Do not throw matches into wastepaper baskets. An approved metal waste container should be provided for their disposal.
27. Dispose of litmus paper, wooden splints, toothpicks, rags/paper towels (especially those with flammables on them), and all other combustibles in approved metal or other designated waste containers with lids.
28. Do not bring any substance into contact with heat or an open flame unless specifically instructed to do so. Keep flammable materials like alcohol far away from an open flame. Fumes from these can travel along counter tops and be ignited.
29. When heating test tubes, do not look down into the tube while heating it, and do not point it in the direction of oneself or any other person.
30. When bending glass, allow time for the glass to cool before further handling. Hot and cold glass has the same visual appearance. Determine if an object is hot by bringing the back of one’s hand close to it. Use tongs and wire gauze pads.
31. To cut small-diameter glass tubing, use a file to make a deep scratch. Wrap the tubing in a paper towel before bending the glass away from oneself with one’s thumbs facing each other at the scratch. Fire polish ends.
32. Carefully twist (never push) glass tubing into stopper holes. Lubricate stopper hole to ease insertion and always use towels for hand protection.
33. Remove all broken glass from work area or floor as soon as possible. Never handle broken glass with bare hands. Use a counter brush and dustpan. Dispose of it in a separate waste container labeled “Broken Glass”.
34. Place all metals and solid wastes into designated waste containers. Never discard solids into laboratory sinks.
35. Never climb to reach overhead storage. Use a safety stool or lab ladder. To minimize accidental breakage and chemical splash, do not use overhead storage for bottled chemicals.
36. When transporting chemical bottles, take care not to drop them or knock them into a lab bench, drawer, or door.
37. When dispensing chemicals, use caution along with the proper techniques and equipment. Do not put extra quantities back into original storage! This will cause contamination. Instead, dispose of in the proper manner.
38. Avoid contamination. Never pour reagents back into the bottle. Do not use one pipette for more than one liquid/solution or lay them on the table.
39. Do not pipette liquids by mouth. Use a rubber suction bulb to draw the liquid up into the pipette.
40. Spills should be reported to the instructor as soon as they occur. Immediate cleanup, using the proper neutralization and/or disposal procedures, is essential to prevent injuries and additional accidents. Most spilled acids can be neutralized (made safe) with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) solution. Most spilled bases (alkalis) can be neutralized with dilute acetic acid (vinegar).
41. When removing an electrical plug from its socket, pull the plug, not the electrical cord. Remember, one’s hands should be completely dry before touching an electrical switch, plug, or outlet to prevent electrocution. To prevent electrical fires, inspect plugs and cords for broken insulation and never overload electrical outlets or circuits.
42. Keep work areas clean. Keep floors, aisles, and passageways clear of laboratory equipment, chemicals, boxes, and other clutter. Each student should help in the cleanup after each lab session. Every item should be properly stored. Close any open drawers and cabinet doors to avoid injuries.
43. Students are not permitted in laboratory storage rooms without approval.
44. Any individually planned experiment must be approved by the teacher.
45. Most of all, be alert and proceed with caution in the laboratory.