Is your lab as safe as it should be?

Laboratory Incidents in Late 2013-800

These headlines involving laboratory safety issues are not making the national news agencies, so the general population as well as laboratory personnel are not aware of the number of incidents that are actually occurring in laboratories. Lack of proper training certainly plays a role in these incidents, but most importantly, it is a lack of daily compliance to safe laboratory practices. Non-compliance is easy when you are not aware of the consequences. Because we are not hearing of these "lab incidents" it is easy to take shortcuts and not consistently follow standard lab protocols that ensure our safety. Constantly hearing about horrific traffic accidents keeps us clicking our seatbelts, so maybe if we were more aware of actual cases where negative consequences occurred because of lack of safety compliance, we would make it a higher priority.

An amazing number of people put themselves in harm's way in their labs because they don't know if their ventilation product is working correctly. Others are familiar with proper ventilation operation, but don't check their equipment’s performance regularly. The primary goal of fume hoods and biological safety cabinets is to protect their end user. The containment level of laboratory ventilation depends on mechanical parts to produce specified airflows.

Any mechanical operation needs to be checked often to ensure changes haven't occurred as parts undergo everyday wear and tear. At a minimum, certification needs to be done by a qualified certifier on an annual basis. Even on certified equipment, airflow levels need to be checked each time the equipment is used. Fortunately, airflow monitors and alarms are becoming standard on most ventilation equipment. If you do not already have an airflow alarm, one can be easily installed.   

A great source for laboratory safety information is the UC Center for Laboratory Safety website. This center has been created to improve the practice of laboratory safety through the performance of scientific research and implementation of best safety practices in the laboratory. Take a moment to view all the resources regarding lab safety that are easily accessible in this one convenient location. 

Another source for pertinent, easily accessible lab safety information is the Dow Safety Academy. Recognized as an industry leader in the area of lab safety, Dow has produced over 30 videos addressing lab safety to enhance awareness of safety practices in academic research laboratories and to promote a safety mindset in the future workforce of the chemical community.

Small explosion in WPI lab at Gateway Park

KIM RING - 08/19/2013

UNL buildings open after crews investigate chemical odor

Lincoln Journal Star - 08/06/2013

Medtronic Building Evacuated After Chemical Spill

ARIN MIKAILIAN - 07/22/2013

Lab fire reported at Aldrich Chemical

Sheboygan Press Media - 07/18/2013

No injuries in Stanford chemical lab spill

JASON GREEN - 07/08/2013

Chemical fire at Horowhenua College

KATHRYN KING - 06/27/2013

Boys burned during experiment at Covington science camp remain hospitalized

BOB WARREN- 06/18/2013

Hazmat Incident at University of Delaware Campus

DON RUSH - 06/04/2013

Explosion at UNO Chemistry Lab

NOLA Defender - 05/17/2013

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