Lab Safety Rules and Guidelines

Lab safety rules

Your safety is the constant concern to us. Common sense and personal interest in safety are still the greatest guarantees of your safety at work, on the road, and at home. But knowing the proper laboratory safety signs and symbols is also important. 

Here are the safety rules that most commonly came up at several laboratories’ policies:

General lab safety rules

The following are rules that relate to almost every laboratory and should be included in most safety policies. They cover what you should know in the event of an emergency, proper signage, safety equipment, safely using laboratory equipment, and basic common-sense rules. 

  • Be sure to read all fire alarm and safety signs and follow the instructions in the event of an accident or emergency. 
  • Ensure you are fully aware of your facility’s/building’s evacuation procedures. 
  • Make sure you know where your lab’s safety equipment—including first aid kit(s), fire extinguishers, eye wash stations, and safety showers—is located and how to properly use it. 
  • Know emergency phone numbers to use to call for help in case of an emergency. 
  • Lab areas containing carcinogens, radioisotopes, biohazards, and lasers should be properly marked with the appropriate warning signs. 
  • Open flames should never be used in the laboratory unless you have permission from a qualified supervisor. 
  • Make sure you are aware of where your lab’s exits and fire alarms are located. 
  • An area of 36″ diameter must be kept clear at all times around all fire sprinkler heads. 
  • If there is a fire drill, be sure to turn off all electrical equipment and close all containers.
  • Always work in properly-ventilated areas. 
  • Do not chew gum, drink, or eat while working in the lab. 
  • Laboratory glassware should never be utilized as food or beverage containers. 
  • Each time you use glassware, be sure to check it for chips and cracks. Notify your lab supervisor of any damaged glassware so it can be properly disposed of.
  • Never use lab equipment that you are not approved or trained by your supervisor to operate. 
  • If an instrument or piece of equipment fails during use, or isn’t operating properly, report the issue to a technician right away. Never try to repair an equipment problem on your own.
  • If you are the last person to leave the lab, make sure to lock all the doors and turn off all ignition sources.
  • Do not work alone in the lab.
  • Never leave an ongoing experiment unattended. 
  • Never lift any glassware, solutions, or other types of apparatus above eye level. 
  • Never smell or taste chemicals. 
  • Do not pipette by mouth. 
  • Make sure you always follow the proper procedures for disposing lab waste.
  • Report all injuries, accidents, and broken equipment or glass right away, even if the incident seems small or unimportant.
  • If you have been injured, yell out immediately and as loud as you can to ensure you get help.
  • In the event of a chemical splashing into your eye(s) or on your skin, immediately flush the affected area(s) with running water for at least 20 minutes.
  • If you notice any unsafe conditions in the lab, let your supervisor know as soon as possible.

Housekeeping safety rules

Housekeeping lab safety rules

Laboratory housekeeping rules also apply to most facilities and deal with the basic upkeep, tidiness, and maintenance of a safe laboratory. 

  • Always keep your work area(s) tidy and clean. 
  • Make sure that all eye wash stations, emergency showers, fire extinguishers, and exits are always unobstructed and accessible. 
  • Only materials you require for your work should be kept in your work area. Everything else should be stored safely out of the way.
  • Only lightweight items should be stored on top of cabinets; heavier items should always be kept at the bottom.
  • Solids should always be kept out of the laboratory sink. 
  • Any equipment that requires air flow or ventilation to prevent overheating should always be kept clear. 

Dress code safety rules 

Dresscode lab safety rules

As you’d expect, laboratory dress codes set a clear policy for the clothing employees should avoid wearing in order to prevent accidents or injuries in the lab. For example skirts and shorts might be nice for enjoying the warm weather outside, but quickly become a liability in the lab where skin can be exposed to heat or dangerous chemicals. 

  • Always tie back hair that is chin-length or longer.
  • Make sure that loose clothing or dangling jewelry is secured, or avoid wearing it in the first place. 
  • Never wear sandals or other open-toed shoes in the lab. Footwear should always cover the foot completely. 
  • Never wear shorts or skirts in the lab.
  • When working with Bunsen burners, lighted splints, matches, etc., acrylic nails are not allowed.

Personal protection safety rules

Personal protection lab safety rules

Unlike laboratory dress code policies, rules for personal protection cover what employees should be wearing in the lab in order to protect themselves from various hazards, as well as basic hygiene rules to follow to avoid any sort of contamination.

  • When working with equipment, hazardous materials, glassware, heat, and/or chemicals, always wear face shields or safety glasses.
  • When handling any toxic or hazardous agent, always wear the appropriate gloves.
  • When performing laboratory experiments, you should always wear a smock or lab coat.
  • Before leaving the lab or eating, always wash your hands.
  • After performing an experiment, you should always wash your hands with soap and water. 
  • When using lab equipment and chemicals, be sure to keep your hands away from your body, mouth, eyes, and face.

Chemical safety rules

Chemical lab safety rules

Since almost every lab uses chemicals of some sort, chemical safety rules are a must. Following these policies helps employees avoid spills and other accidents, as well as damage to the environment outside of the lab. These rules also set a clear procedure for employees to follow in the event that a spill does occur, in order to ensure it is cleaned up properly and injuries are avoided. 

  • Every chemical should be treated as though it were dangerous.
  • Do not allow any solvent to come into contact with your skin. 
  • All chemicals should always be clearly labeled with the name of the substance, its concentration, the date it was received, and the name of the person responsible for it.
  • Before removing any of the contents from a chemical bottle, read the label twice.
  • Never take more chemicals from a bottle than you need for your work. 
  • Do not put unused chemicals back into their original container. 
  • Chemicals or other materials should never be taken out of the laboratory. 
  • Chemicals should never be mixed in sink drains. 
  • Flammable and volatile chemicals should only be used in a fume hood. 
  • If a chemical spill occurs, clean it up right away.
  • Ensure that all chemical waste is disposed of properly. 

Chemistry lab safety rules

As chemistry labs are one of the most common types, these basic chemistry lab safety rules are relevant to many scientists, dealing with the safe performance of common activities and tasks in the average chemistry lab: 

  • Before you start an experiment, make sure you are fully aware of the hazards of the materials you’ll be using.  
  • When refluxing, distilling, or transferring volatile liquids, always exercise extreme caution.  
  • Always pour chemicals from large containers to smaller ones.  
  • Never pour chemicals that have been used back into the stock container.   
  • Never tap flasks that are under vacuum.   
  • Chemicals should never be mixed, measured, or heated in front of your face.  
  • Water should not be poured into concentrated acid. Instead, pour acid slowly into water while stirring constantly. In many cases, mixing acid with water is exothermic. 

Electrical safety rules

Electrical lab safety rules

Like almost every other workplace, laboratories contain electronic equipment. Electrical safety rules help prevent the misuse of electronic instruments, electric shocks and other injuries, and ensure that any damaged equipment, cords, or plugs are reported to the appropriate authorities so they can be repaired or replaced. 

  • Before using any high voltage equipment (voltages above 50Vrms ac and 50V dc), make sure you get permission from your lab supervisor. 
  •  High voltage equipment should never be changed or modified in any way. 
  • Always turn off a high voltage power supply when you are attaching it.
  • Use only one hand if you need to adjust any high voltage equipment.  It’s safest to place your other hand either behind your back or in a pocket.
  • Make sure all electrical panels are unobstructed and easily accessible. 
  • Whenever you can, avoid using extension cords.

Laser safety rules

Laser lab safety rules

Perhaps not as common as some of the other laboratory safety rules listed here, many laboratories do use lasers and it’s important to follow some key rules of thumb to prevent injuries. In particular, accidents due to reflection are something that many employees may not think about. A clear set of rules for the use of lasers is essential to ensure that everyone is aware of all hazards and that the appropriate personal protective equipment is worn at all times. 

  • Even if you are certain that a laser beam is “eye” safe or low power, you should never look into it.
  • Always wear the appropriate goggles in areas of the lab where lasers are present. The most common laser injuries are those caused by scattered laser light reflecting either off the shiny surface of optical tables, the sides of mirrors, or off of mountings. Goggles will help you avoid damage from such scattered light.
  • You should never keep your head at the same level as the laser beam.
  • Always keep the laser beam at or below chest level. 
  • Laser beams should never be allowed to spread into the lab. Beam stops should always be used to intercept laser beams.
  • Do not walk through laser beams.

Source : Lab Manager

The Standard PPE List

If you are new to a business, or are just starting out, you might not know what you should be offering as part of this responsibility. The standard personal protective equipment list that ensures you are meeting the needs of your staff, and the legal requirements expected of you as an employer. Read on to find out more.

What is PPE?

Personal protective equipment is the first level of protection against injury or illness in the workplace.

What are the laws on personal protective equipment?

The expectation set for employers about PPE is dictated by Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, a law responsible for ensuring the workplace health and safety for employees.

Appropriate training in the use of the equipment should be given, and employees should have free and easy access to the products they need. 

List of personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment refers to products that will protect the user (or wearer) from the health and safety risks posed in the workplace.

Based on this, the PPE you need to introduce into your workplace depends on the hazards posed there. Here we have listed some the most common types of PPE, and the hazards that they can be used to combat.


Head protection

Products include: Safety helmets, hard hats and bump Cap

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Falling objects
  • Head injury when working in close confines
  • Electric shock during electrical work


Eye protection

Products include: Safety gogglesoverglasses, and safety glasses.

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Airborne dust and debris
  • Chemical splashes
  • Impact hazards


Face protection

Products include: Browguards and face shield

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Chemical splashes
  • Splashes from molten metal
  • Impact hazards


Hearing protection

Products include: Reusable ear plugsdisposable ear plugs, ear defender, and clarity ear muff 

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Damage to hearing from noise exposure of all types, including:
  • Machinery
  • Equipment


Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

Products include: Disposable respiratorshalf masks and full face masks and reuseable respirators

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Airborne dust and debris
  • Airborne solvents
  • Exposure to areas of low oxygen levels


Hand protection

Products include: Gloves to suit different hazards, including gloves and heat-resistant gloves

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Contact with chemical hazards
  • Heat and burns
  • Injury through manual handling
  • Injury from machinery vibrations


Safety footwear

Products include: Work boots and  safety shoes

Types of health and safety risk they combat:

  • Corrosive or irritating substances
  • Electric shock during electrical work


Questions to ask when creating your PPE list

Before making your final decisions on the best PPE for your workplace, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • Is it fully-adjustable to fit the wearer correctly?
  • Does the PPE create any other health and safe issues that need to be accounted for?
  • Is it compatible with the other types of PPE that should be worn?
  • Does the PPE allow the wearer or user to do their job safely and effectively?
  • Is the PPE also suitable for the working environment, whilst also dealing with the health and safety issues?

We hope you have found our PPE list useful, and that it guides you towards making the best decision for your workplace. If you have any further queries about choosing the correct PPE for your employees, please don’t hesitate to contact our team who will be happy to advise.

Anatomy of a Safety Sign

Industry experts recommend keeping facility signs clear and up-to-date using this most recent standard. This standardized sign format continues today to be the choice for selecting messages in safety signs. 

Parts of a Safety Sign
A clear and consistent format is key to quick recognition and understanding.

  • Signal Word Panel (Header)
    • Safety Alert Symbol
    • Signal Word
  • Message Panel
    • Message Text
    • Symbol

Choosing a Sign Header

Is it a Hazardous Situation?

  • If No : Use a SAFETY or NOTICE header
  • If Yes: Is there potential for an accident? 
  • If No : Use a NOTICE header.  
  • If Yes : If it will cause death or injury: use DANGER header/If it may cause death or serious injury: use WARNING header/If it may cause minor or moderate injury: use CAUTION header/If it may cause property damage: use NOTICE header

Writing a Message
When choosing what a sign will say, make your message clear, direct, and readable.

  • Most urgent information first
  • Direct instructions
  • Simple phrasing
  • Sentence-style capitalization
  • Left-aligned text

The right image can clarify or support a sign’s message. Choose a symbol that’s easy to recognize and relates directly to the most important information on a sign. If a specific hazard is present or specific PPE is needed, show it with an image.Optionally, a symbol can appear with a surrounding shape. These shapes have useful meanings: Information,  ΔHazard Alert,  ΟMandatory, &  ∅Prohibited

It’s still your choice which format to use. Regardless of which format you choose, and even if you mix formats in your facility, be sure to train your employees and contractors on the importance of recognizing the hazards in your facility, by understanding the signs to safety.


Respirator Certification – What Does N95 Really Mean?

Respiratory Protection

Selecting respirators appropriate for your workplace can be a daunting task. Respiratory protection program managers need to understand the airborne hazards in their facilities, determine the required assigned protection factor for a respirator, choose what type of respirator is needed (air-purifying or atmosphere-supplying, tight-fitting or loose-fitting) and make sure each employee’s respirator fits properly.

The term “N95 respirator” gets thrown around a lot because it is one of the most common types of respirators. In this post we’re going to take a look at what that term (and similar terms like R99 and P100) mean. Understanding these labels is important for both employers and employees because both need to know the respirators being used are sufficient for the hazards present.

NIOSH Certification Levels for Particulate Filtering Respirators

For a respiratory protection program to be OSHA compliant it must use respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH, a division of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has 10 classes of approved particulate filtering respirators.

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The correct gloves for the correct chemicals

It’s important to ensure that you have adequate protection when handling chemicals that are potentially hazardous to your health. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right gloves to handle the different chemical applications and hazards.

Some of the most common workplace injuries involve the hands. This is unsurprising as they are the part of the body responsible for carrying out the work. However, as anyone who has ever had a hand injury can tell you, hand injuries can be the most painful and take the longest to heal, which means down time from work and a drop in productivity.

Injured hands account for up to 45% off all workplace accidents and it is estimated that at least 60% of those injuries could have been avoided with the correct protection. So what can you do to avoid such injuries? It starts with simply wearing the correct gloves.

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How to Choose Floor Marking Tape for Your Facility

Industrial floor marking tape is an investment in safety that needs to last to achieve maximum effect. To make sure each facility gets the most out of its safety investment, it is important to choose the correct marking tape based on the facility’s needs and how the tape will be used.

When choosing floor marking, the first question to consider is: “What purpose should it achieve in this facility?”

5S organization tape in a warehouse is not always the right choice for emergency exit guidance in an office building, and both types of tape are different from slip protection on an outdoor ladder.

Continue reading “How to Choose Floor Marking Tape for Your Facility”

A Mirror: Your Most Important PPE

Look around your job site. There are hazards including suspended loads, moving equipment, heat, electricity, insects, falling objects, poison oak and traffic. Assuming you work for a company with an effective safety program, they have trained you in hazard identification and mitigation. Your mitigation plan to control some hazards includes PPE. You inspect it, store it properly and wear it as directed. In short, you protect it so it can protect you. You are covered in PPE from head to toe and ready to go to work. Or are you? Have you forgotten the most important PPE you will ever use – a mirror?

You have probably never seen a mirror included with your PPE on a job hazard analysis or pre-job briefing form and probably are not trained in mirror use, so let’s examine why a mirror is an essential component of your PPE along with how and when it should be utilized.

Mirrors are an important component of PPE because you can be the biggest hazard on your job site and a mirror is your only protection. To utilize a mirror properly, position yourself directly in front of it and think about the following.

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Basics of Disposable Clothing: Cover Your Assets

Certain work environments require higher levels of protection from hazards, chemicals, particulates, dust, dirt and grime. For workers that may be exposed to hazardous material, it is so important to make sure they have the protection they need to avoid serious health risks. Aside from respiratory equipment, eye and ear protection, having the right disposable protective clothing available to workers is often required by OSHA as part of a solid PPE program (1910.120).

Jobs that may require additional protection:

  • Labs, construction sites, chemical plants, paint and body shops
  • Hazardous waste clean-up and disposal, asbestos removal or pesticide application
  • Site survey, rescue, spill mitigation, emergency monitoring and decontamination

Exposure to splashes, spills, contaminated surfaces, or aerosols in the workplace can lead to health issues and/or diseases of the skin including contact dermatitis and even cancer. When workers are exposed to hazards on a daily basis, they need the right body wear to stay healthy, productive and be able to continue the job for years to come.

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