Improving Laboratory Safety for Researchers

Lab work can be hazardous—and even something as simple as wearing a lab coat can be life-saving.  A University of California, Los Angeles researcher “was not wearing a protective lab coat when the plunger on a syringe she was using dislodged, discharging a chemical compound that burns when exposed to air,” reported Safety+Health associate editor Sarah Trotto. “She suffered serious burns and died nearly three weeks later.”Cole-Parmer AcademicLab

While not all incidents are fatal, recognition of potential hazards is necessary to improve vigilance concerning laboratory safety protocols in academic labs. From exposure to chemicals to infectious materials, donning personal protective equipment provides a barrier from the hazardous substance and the worker.

OHS mandates employers to make an assessment of possible perils and select PPE to safeguard workers. PPE is to include protection for eyes, face, head, extremities; protective clothing; respiratory protection; shields and barriers.

For academic labs, Safety+Health cites the American Chemical Society as working to improve safety guidance by developing educational guidelines. These will arm lab workers with information about what the hazards are and why safety measures need to followed rigorously.


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