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Laboratory Safety Procedures

1.4 Laboratory safety procedures (ESCJ4)

Laboratories have rules that are enforced as safety precautions. These rules are:

  • Before doing any scientific experiment make sure that you know where the fire extinguishers are in your laboratory and there should also be a bucket of sand to extinguish fires.

  • You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of others in the laboratory. Never perform experiments alone.

  • Ensure that you are dressed appropriately whenever you are near chemicals:

    • hair tied back

    • no loose or flammable clothing

    • closed shoes

    • gloves

    • safety glasses

  • Do not eat or drink in the laboratory. Do not use laboratory glassware to eat or drink from.

  • Always behave responsibly in the laboratory. Do not run around or play practical jokes. Always check the safety data of any chemicals you are going to use. Never smell, taste or touch chemicals unless instructed to do so. Do not take chemicals from the laboratory.

  • Only perform the experiments that your teacher instructs you to. Never mix chemicals for fun. Follow the given instructions exactly. Do not mix up steps or try things in a different order.

  • Care needs to be taken when pouring liquids or powders from one container to another. When spillages occur you need to call the teacher immediately to assist in cleaning up the spillage.

  • Care needs to be taken when using strong acids and bases. A good safety precaution is to have a solution of sodium bicarbonate in the vicinity to neutralise any spills as quickly as possible. If you spill on yourself wash the area with lots of water and seek medical attention. Never add water to acid. Always add the acid to water.

  • When working with chemicals and gases that are hazardous, a fume cupboard should be used. Always work in a well ventilated area.

  • When you are smelling chemicals, place the container on a laboratory bench and use your hand to gently waft (fan) the vapours towards you.

  • Be alert and careful when handling chemicals, hot glassware, etc. Never heat thick glassware as it will break. (i.e. do not heat measuring cylinders).

  • When lighting a Bunsen burner the correct procedure needs to be followed: securely connect the rubber tubing to the gas pipe, have your matches ready, turn on the gas, then light a match and the bunsen burner. Do not leave Bunsen burners and flames unattended.

  • When heating substances in a test tube do not overheat the solution. Remember to face the mouth of the test tube away from you and members of your group when heating a test tube.

  • Always check with your teacher how to dispose of waste. Chemicals should not be disposed of down the sink.

  • Ensure all Bunsen burners are turned off at the end of the practical and all chemical containers are sealed.

Hazard data (ESCJ5)

Before starting any experiment, research the chemicals and materials you will be using in that experiment. Laboratory chemicals can be dangerous, and you should study the safety data sheets should before working with a chemical. The data sheets can be found at http://www.msds.com/.

Before working with a chemical, you should also make sure that you know how to, and have the facilities available to, dispose of those chemicals correctly and safely. Many chemicals cannot simply be washed down the sink. If you follow these few simple guidelines you can safely carry out experiments in the laboratory without endangering yourself or others around you.