Safety Must-Haves for Any Lab
Labs can be dangerous places to work. To operate a successful lab, you must be prepared for accidents to happen at any time. Equipping your lab with essential safety features can protect lab staff as well as valuable equipment from damage. Here is our must-have laboratory safety equipment guide.
Fire Extinguishers and Blankets
When sourcing fire extinguishers for labs, lab managers need to be careful about the type of chemical used in the extinguisher. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) groups laboratory materials into categories ranked by hazard level, with D as the least hazardous and A as the most dangerous.
For the average laboratory, the NFPA recommends an ABC extinguisher, which is composed of dry chemicals and can be used to put out most fires, including electrical fires.
A fire blanket should be on every laboratory safety equipment list. A fire blanket is an effective alternative to a fire extinguisher. Many of the chemicals in standard fire extinguishers react violently with the chemicals used in a lab, causing the fire to become worse. If in doubt about the reactivity of the fire source, use the fire blanket to smother the flames.
Eye Wash Station
An eyewash station consists of a sink in which water is propelled forcefully upward to expel potentially damaging materials from the eye. You can find either free-standing eyewash stations or those that can be incorporated into your existing sink.
However, if you choose a built-in eyewash station, ensure you never dispose of any harmful materials down the drain. Keep the area clean to avoid any further eye irritation.
Eyewash stations should have a hands-free operation valve that can open in one second or less. The valve must remain open until manually closed to ensure adequate decontamination.
Chemical Safety Shower
In situations where large areas of the body become contaminated, or the eyewash station is inadequate, a chemical safety shower becomes an essential safety feature for your lab. When purchasing and installing your safety shower, choose from either a free-standing unit or a space-saving wall-mounted unit.
Safety showers must be free from obstruction at all times, easily accessible from all points of the lab, and clearly labeled. The shower must be able to provide a minimum water flow of 20 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes to ensure adequate decontamination. It must also remain activated without operator intervention.
Fume hoods are recommended laboratory safety equipment for any lab that uses hazardous materials. A standard fume hood consists of a fire-resistant enclosure with a moveable window, also called a sash, at the front to allow staff access to the interior. The hood catches and contains hazardous materials, then safely expels them. The hood also provides barrier protection to reduce exposure to volatile liquids, dust, and vapors.
A standard hood should draw in lab air at approximately 100 feet per second. Every hood should be marked with a calibration sticker and recommended minimum sash height.
Although the apparatus is designed to hold containers of hazardous chemicals during experiments, a fume hood is not a permanent storage solution for dangerous chemicals. This can drastically impair the operating efficiency of the fume hood.
Biosafety cabinets work in a similar way to chemical fume hoods and are designed to prevent accidental spills of biohazardous material from contaminating the lab and lab staff.
A biosafety cabinet should be equipped with a high-quality HEPA filter. The filter eliminates up to 99.9% of airborne bacteria, viruses, and pathogens from the exhaust before they are expelled into the surrounding environment.
Biosafety cabinets are categorized into three classes: I, II, and III. Class III biosafety cabinets offer the highest level of protection. A HEPA filter intakes the air and which is cycled through HEPA filters before expelling the exhaust.
Spill Clean-Up Kit
Every laboratory that uses hazardous chemicals must have easy access to several chemical spill clean-up kits. They must be located at various places around the lab within easy reach of staff and should contain appropriate materials for neutralizing a variety of chemical spills.
A spill clean-up kit must contain universal absorbents for spills, personal protective equipment, and cleaning tools. If your lab uses mercury thermometers, your kit should also include a mercury spill kit. After using the kit, it should be immediately restocked.
First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit is an integral part of any workspace, and should certainly be part of your laboratory safety equipment. For labs, there are a few extra items that you need to include in your kit, such as burn treatments and dressings, eye patches, and breathing barriers.
Your lab must be a safe workplace to ensure that staff can perform to the best of their ability. It must also protect vital lab equipment from sustaining damage. However, it is also essential to maintain your laboratory safety equipment to ensure it functions properly.
Remi can help you keep your safety equipment functioning correctly and your lab running smoothly with our full-service maintenance solution. We can connect you with the best technicians to ensure faster response times and more efficient work so that your lab can get back on track faster after an accident. Contact Remi today to request a quote or to discuss the right maintenance agreement solutions for your lab. Our full-service agreement will keep your lab safe and ready for any eventuality.