Biological Lab Safety
Working in a biological lab can be rewarding—biological professions help to create medicines and cures for some of the worst and most uncomfortable ailments that we can suffer, such as the flu, cancer and even HIV. But because these types of labs work to create a better quality of life for all people, those who work in biological lab professions are at significant risk for becoming injured or ill as a result of their work.
In order to work safely in a biological lab, there are dozens, if not hundreds of different safety rules, procedures and instructions that must be followed for every type of work that is being done and for every type of matter that is being handled. Some of the most important safety practices for a biological lab include the following:
- Use of safety equipment like primary barriers and personal protective equipment. Other safety equipment necessary in biological labs include BSCs, engineering controls, dry and wet showers, enclosed spaces and containers and other procedures in place to minimize exposure to different biological elements and diseases.
- Use of appropriate tools and equipment for the processes and procedures that are being conducted. This includes uses the right class of syringes, centrifuge cups, and other necessary lab equipment.
- Wearing the right uniforms. This includes wearing lab coats, appropriate gloves, shoe covers, special boots and other necessary gear for the specific lab or procedure like a respirator, glasses and goggles. These items are for the safety not only of the person wearing them but also those around them.
- A worker in the lab does not ensure that everyone is wearing proper clothing and safety gear in the immediate area before working with hazardous materials, thus exposing coworkers.
- A vial or other container is compromised prior to arriving at the lab, contaminating every person who comes into contact with it.
- A worker carelessly spills liquids or other matter that contaminate multiple surfaces like clothes, skin and hair and result in illnesses based on the contents of the liquids and matter.
Accidents That Can Happen in a Biological Lab
Working in a biological lab is not always safe. Accidents can happen at any time and it is important for workers in labs to be ready for anything and to know how to handle a serious situation that could lead to injury or illness. The most common causes of injuries and illnesses sustained by workers in biological labs include:
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