A few general laboratory practices can significantly decrease your chance of accidents in the research laboratory. Procedures to follow when working in any laboratory include:
- Be familiar with the materials you are working with (e.g., chemical, biological, radioactive). Refer to written laboratory protocols and review the SDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for chemicals. Consider the toxicity of the materials and the health and safety hazards of each procedure (e.g., generation of aerosols). Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of laboratory personnel and the safety equipment that is available.
- Know the location of safety equipment and emergency procedures in your area.
- Always wear appropriate clothing (e.g., pants, shirts, shoes) in the laboratory. Open sandals are prohibited; shorts and skirts are not recommended.
- Do not work alone in the laboratory. When hazardous operations are conducted, arrangements should be made to have another person present in the lab.
- Keep the laboratory and work area clean and uncluttered.
- Work with all hazardous chemicals inside a fume hood.
- Never eat, smoke, drink, prepare food or apply cosmetics in the laboratory.
- Do not leave reactions unattended.
- Prohibit unauthorized individuals from entering the laboratory.