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Safe and sound: Gloves, goggles, gowns (and more lab safety basics)

The longer you work in research, the greater chance you have of witnessing – or experiencing first hand – a hazardous situation that can lead to an accident. These are the moments that are passed down to future scientists as scary, funny, or “I can’t believe how bad that situation could have been!” stories with the hope that they are learned from – and that history doesn’t repeat itself.

What are some of the common scenarios that can result in an accident?

  • Limited understanding of how an item or tool works.
  • Using a chemical reagent before reading its MSDS.
  • Avoiding PPE like the plague.
  • Wanting to learn more information about an item and not knowing where to begin looking for it (or depending entirely on a colleague for instruction – who knows just as much, or little, as you do).
  • Throwing sensible and established safety principles out the window, in an impossible quest to save time (this one is rare, but happens).

There’s good news, though: laboratory accidents are preventable!

Whether you’re beginning in science for the first time, coming back after some time off or moving to a new lab and a new field of research, take a moment to review the basics. We’ve created a succinct guide that takes the “crash” out of “crash course” and helps you hit the ground running to complete your next experiment safely.

Here’s what you can find in our introductory guide, The BitesizeBio Guide to Lab Safety.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Personal Protective equipment: Dress for success

Lab coats

     How to wear a lab coat

     How to take care of a lab coat

     When not to wear a lab coat

Gloves

     How to use gloves effectively

     How to store gloves

     When to change your gloves

     When not to use gloves

Face and Head Protection

Choosing the right eyewear

Masks

Hearing protection

Chapter 3 – Common lab hazards

Chemicals

     MSDSs

     Storing chemicals

     Using a fumehood

     Moving/transporting reagents

     Reagent and chemical disposal

Biologicals

     Using a tissue culture hood

Waste Management

Radiation

     How to minimize your risk

     Measure your dose: exposure monitoring

Lab equipment

     Working with Bunsen burners

     Microwaves and Hotplates

     Extreme temperatures: autoclaves, freezers and liquid nitrogen

How to handle common lab accidents

     The eyewash

     The safety shower

     Spills

     Fires

     Reporting accidents

Chapter 5 – Conclusion: Great places to find more safety information

Your lab’s safety manual

Your institution’s safety department

Your Right To Know: The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

 

No one should ever have to guess about how to run experimentation safely. It is my hope that once you read this e-book you will become empowered to see every laboratory with a more discerning eye, appreciate the safety principles that are well established and then be able to address areas that can be made better for you and your colleagues.

Although “Laboratory safety” is such a broad topic in itself, the basic principles will become second nature the more that you utilize them. When deeper questions arise during the unique research you do, you’ll know how to begin looking for the tools and the resources to seek out new knowledge and apply it. Click here to pick up your copy of The BitesizeBio Guide To Lab Safety today.

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