Lab Behaviour & Safety

As I have not been in the lab since I was at school, I have been researching into how you should act and what NOT to do whilst working in a lab, and in specific when working with bacteria. I read a few Universities protocols for lab practice, but found Brighton Uni’s the clearest. I’ve highlighted the things I feel I really should take note of, many of these do not really apply to our practice, I don’t think anyway!

  1. (i) You are not allowed in laboratories without their lecturer’s permission.(ii) Laboratory work is only permitted during scheduled periods.(iii) You are not allowed to work unsupervised in a laboratory.(iv) Unauthorised work of any kind in the laboratories is strictly forbidden.
  2. Eating and drinking are NOT permitted in the laboratories.
  3. LABORATORY COATS AND SAFETY SPECTACLES are to be worn in the laboratories at all times unless the laboratory is being used for a seminar and no other person is working in that laboratory; in this event the statutory door notices should be covered but for the duration of the seminar only.
  4. Coats, hats and other articles not required during practical work must not be brought into laboratories or left in corridors. Cases or bags should not be left on the floor where they can cause an obstruction.
  5. Know the location of the fire extinguishers in the laboratory where you are working and how to operate them in an emergency.
  6. Know the location of the first aid boxes and eye wash points.
  7. Many operations normally carried out in the laboratories are potentially dangerous. The greatest care should be taken at all times to ensure your safety and that of others in the laboratory.
  8. Follow carefully the procedure given in the Schedule or Instruction sheets. You should not carry out experiments or make innovations without the approval of your supervisor. Ask if you do not fully understand the instructions. 
  9. Solutions should not be pipetted by mouth, use a pipette filler.
  10. Experiments involving the use of, or production of, obnoxious or toxic chemicals, or any hazardous operation must be performed in a fume cupboard.
  11. The fume cupboards or a safety screen should be used with apparatus under vacuum or pressure.
  12. Highly flammable materials must not be heated in open vessels. When heating such materials (e.g. acetone, alcohol, ether, etc.) use either:(i) a preheated waterbath(ii) an electrically heated waterbath(iii) or an electric heating mantle.

    Ensure that any naked flames in vicinity are extinguished.

  13. Clearly label ALL vessels which contain chemicals with:(i) the name of the chemical(ii) your name and course(iii) date

    (iv) hazard – explosive, toxic, flammable, corrosive, oxidising, radioactive or harmful.

  14. Do not leave a laboratory experiment unattended without first consulting your supervisor
  15. Do not leave water taps running unattended, particularly water vacuum pumps. Ensure that the sink waste is not restricted by waste material, filter paper, etc.
  16. Disposal of chemicals – ask the Lecturer in Charge or the Technician.
  17. Solid matter, water-immiscible solvents or liquid nitrogen must not be poured down sinks. 
  18. Waste solvents should be poured into the appropriate bottles provided, not down the sink. Chlorinated solvents must not be mixed with other solvents.
  19. Waste material, solid or paper, should be placed in the bins provided, use the specially indicated bins only for glass.
  20. Do not leave broken glass in the sink or on the bench. Place it in the appropriate bin for glass.
  21. All unwanted biological tissue should be placed in the bucket which will be found on the side bench in the pharmacology laboratory. Biological tissue must not be placed in any other waste bins.
  22. Mop up spillage of chemicals immediately. Refer to the BDH Spillage Chart and seek technical help if necessary.
  23. Mop up spillage of water on the bench or on the floor immediately. This can be a serious safety hazard. If help is required ask the technician.
  24. Students are responsible for the cleanliness of their work benches, which should be left clean, dry and free from apparatus at the end of the practical period.
  25. All chemicals and apparatus should be returned to the proper place after use.
  26. Used glassware must be rinsed with water before it is handed in for cleaning, thereby ensuring that the glassware cleaners are not exposed to any risk.
  27. Always wash your hands after working in the laboratory. It is important to wash your hands both before and after going to the toilet after working in a laboratory. 
  28. It is expressly forbidden to remove any chemicals or solvents from the School.Apparatus left running overnight or for long periods:(i) Obtain your supervisor’s permission.(ii) Complete the appropriate Equipment On notice (Document Safety 5), available from all preparation rooms for display on or adjacent to the apparatus.

    (iii) The Caretakers’ Office must be informed of the details of the experiment and its location.

    (iv) Condenser or cooling water tubing must be secured by wire or clips to the tap and to the apparatus, and the drain tube securely located in the sink or waste pipe. Alternatively, suitable air condensers may be used.


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