Safety is by far the most important thing when working in a chemical laboratory. There are over thousands of injuries that occur each year that are partially non-preventable, but a great majority are preventable accidents that could have been solved with simple lab safety. One of the most critical pieces of lab safety would have to be wearing eye protection. Eye protection could save your vision and eye protection should be worn at all times regardless if an experiment is being conducted or not. The eye protection worn should also have wide shields in order to protect your ears as well as your neck. There are many types of eye protection: chemical splash goggles face shields, safety glasses, etc. The type of eye protection required is dependable on the chemicals and situation so always understand the experiment first before choosing eye protection and if you do not know, you should always ask your TA.
Another critical piece of lab safety would be wearing gloves when conduction experiments. They are necessary when your TA requires you to wear them. They will protect you from chemicals, but they do not offer permanent protection from chemicals. Following suit, gloves, like eye protection, come in many different forms, which can include, but are not limited to the following: latex gloves, neoprene gloves, etc. Gloves also come in different lengths depending, once again, on the situation and experiment being conducted. Gloves should not be reused unless they are clean and free of chemicals. Also, gloves should be checked for holes and cracks because the last thing that should happen is having any part of your body coming into contact with chemicals. Gloves should also be removed before touching other things like your phone or notebooks.
Wearing long pants (from hip to foot) while performing any type of experiment in the lab, is another essential safety rule that must be followed. Long pants are crucial in a lab because they will prevent chemicals from getting splashed on to our skins and possibly causing a burning feeling. Only long pants and coats are strictly needed for clothing because other loose clothing such as shorts, skirts, etc. are much more likely to easily catch fire, or be dragged through chemicals, or even tangle up in moving equipment.
Closed toe shoes:
Many of the labs in chemistry involve dangerous substances that could cause harm to our skin. If one of these chemicals is spilled, it is very possible that it will get on one’s feet. Wearing sandals leaves the toes exposed and prone to be harmed by the spilled chemicals. Also, most of the utensils used in a lab are made of glass. Where there is glass, there is a possibility that it might break. If broken glass pieces get on your exposed feet, there is a high chance of injuries happening. Whereas if one wears closed toe shoes, even if shattered glass fell on our feet, they would be protected.
A lab coat is another essential safety issue when working in the lab. In the chemistry lab we will be working with many substances, many of which are toxic and could easily get on our skin and clothes. A lab coat protects our skin and doesn’t allow substances to get on our clothes. There is also a risk that our clothes might catch on fire. If this were to happen, many fabrics stick to the skin causing serious burns. A lab coat is made of materials that won’t stick to one’s body in case of a fire. Also, a lab coat is much easier to take off than regular clothes, allowing for less time to burn.