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Where there is
no guidance, a people falls,
but in an
abundance of counselors
there is safety.
Christian Bible, Proverbs XI 14

Science and math series

Lab safety guidelines

General rules of conduct in the use of labs in a school environment:
Please note that all school and laboratory rules
superseded these guidelines:

  • Work in the lab only when the teacher or lab instructor/supervisor
    is present or when you have permission to do so;
  • Ask for and familiarize yourself with all manuals, resources and guidelines for working in your school's laboratories.
    These include safe work procedures, chemical safety information, laboratory equipment safety information and links to other resources. If you have any questions in preparation, do not hesitate to ask for updated or missing information;
  • Learn the location and proper usage of the
    eyewash fountain, fire extinguisher, safety shower, fire alarm box, office intercom button, evacuation routes, cleanup brush and dust pan, glass/chemical disposal can and any additional safety equipment including evacuation procedures;
  • Report all accidents regardless of how minor to your teacher or lab instructor/supervisor including contact with chemicals and minor burns, spills, etc.
  • Keep a focus on your projects and experiments;
    do not play, joke, distract others,
    or engage in behavior that could lead to injury of yourself or others.
  • Before beginning work in lab, prepare yourself with a thorough understanding of the instructions, objectives of the experiment, and understanding of the materials
  • Begin with a clean work surface with your instructions clearly posted and available; have a clear, clean work space and eliminate unnecessary books, book bags, equipment, etc.
  • Use goggles and lab aprons as instructed;
    wear appropriate clothing and avoid loose fitting garments that can cause spills as well as open-toed footwear or sandals
  • Use care when accessing or transporting stock chemicals and only under supervision
  • Use equipment only as directed;
  • View the contents of experiments from the side;
    never directly into an experiment as in a test tube.
  • Carefully smell experiments using your hand to "fan" the odor or fumes towards you and only when instructed to do so.  Never directly above or in the container.
  • Never taste or ingest chemicals or materials in the lab;
    do not bring food, drink and gum etc. into the lab area;
  • Return all lab materials and equipment to their proper places after use as instructed; clean your lab space as instructed by your teacher or lab instructor/supervisor

Selected lab safety links and resources

  • The Laboratory Safety Institute
    Free documents from the International Center for Science Safety
  • Princeton University Laboratory Safety Manual
    a collection of resources for individuals working in research and teaching laboratories. It includes safe work procedures, chemical safety information, laboratory equipment safety information and
    links to other resources, both from Princeton and other organizations. It is a web-based living document, with new items being added or revisions taking place at any time.
  • U.S. Department of Labor | Occupational Safety & Health Administration | Personal Protective Equipment | Eye and face protection
    "appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation"
  • Toxicity Profiles - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    The toxicity profiles in this database were developed using information taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and Health Effects Assessment Summary Tables (HEAST) and other regulatory sources.
  • The National Toxicology Program The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is one of the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Toxicology Program is headquartered on the NIEHS campus in Research Triangle Park, NC.
  • EPA Hazardous and Toxic Chemical Search -
    Environmental Protection Agency

    chemicals that are monitored by EPA's Major Program Systems
  • Toxic Substances and Public Health -
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances.
  • Laboratory Survival Manual - The University of Virginia
    policies and procedures that the University of Virginia has implemented to keep you and the environment safe from hazardous chemical exposure.
  • Laboratory Safety Resources -
    Vermont Safety Information Resources
  • Laboratory Safety Links: A Baker's Dozen Safety Rules (Plus I):
    Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Open Directory Project:
    Education: K through 12: School Safety : Labs and Experiments
  • US National Institute of Health's
    Bioethics Resources on the Web
Labs and science

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Writing white papers | Lab safety