Laboratory Safety and Procedures

Science is a hands-on, minds-on subject. Most scientific knowledge has been gained by  careful observation, experimentation, thorough research, and collaboration with peers.

In addition, research has shown that people learn best by doing. If Mrs. O'Connor stood in front of the class for 85 minutes every day explaining scientific concepts, you would learn very little. You must become an active participant in the scientific process. As a result, you will spend a great deal of class time in the laboratory engaged in hands-on, minds-on activities.

  The lab is an intriguing place. There are many instruments and tools that you do not get to use on an every day basis. You will see things that you have never before witnessed with your eyes and you will likely stumble upon ideas and realizations that you never before considered. There is so much to be learned in the lab and learning can be lots of fun!

 

However, the lab is a serious place. There are certain dangers that you are exposed to therefore SAFETY is a top priority. Lab safety is EVERYONE'S responsibility. "It wasn't my fault" and "I didn't mean to" are two statements that have no place in the lab. If someone is hurt or equipment is broken, these statements do not undo the harm.

Please take the time to read and understand the lab safety rules and procedures. Following these guidelines will ensure that you and your classmates enter a lab that is not only safe, but a place where optimal learning takes place.

I. Eye Safety

II. Laboratory Attire

III. Fire

IV. Chemical Spills

V. Broken Glass

VI. Food and Play - No Way!

VII. Cleanup

VII. Safety Contract

 

I. Eye Safety

Goggles or safety glasses must be worn in the lab area when conducting laboratory activities. This is not just a Mrs. O'Connor or Bayshore High School rule - this is state law. Yes, you probably like a big dork wearing goggles but you are not alone because the rest of your classmates look like dorks, too. However in our classroom, safety takes precedence over vanity.

1) If a corrosive liquid should splash in the eye, the natural reflex to clamp the eyelids shut makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the contact lens before damage is done.

2) The plastic used in contact lenses is permeable to some of the vapors found in the laboratory. These vapors can be trapped behind the lenses and can cause extensive irritation.

3) The lenses can prevent tears from removing the irritant. If chemical vapors contact the eyes while wearing contact lenses, these steps should be followed:

If a chemical or some other substance should get into your eye(s), please proceed to the emergency eye wash station.

 

II. Laboratory Attire

While it's important to wear safety glasses or goggles, there are other things that should not be worn to the lab.

III. Fire

 

Lab burners are the source of most problems. If you are not heating something, turn the burner off! Be aware when a lab burner is in use at your lab station and be extremely careful. If a burner is not operating correctly, turn it off and report the problem to Mrs. O'Connor.

 

 

 

Types of Fires in the Lab:

 

The average fire extinguisher only operates about 10 seconds - don't waste it! You must get 5 to 6 feet away from the fire for the extinguisher to be effective.

 

IV. Chemical Spills

Did any of the spill get on your skin or clothing? Sometimes adding water is the worst thing you can do.

Labels provide important information about the dangers that may be associated with a chemical. ALWAYS REGARD UNLABELED CONTAINERS AS DANGEROUS!

There are two common labeling methods.

1) National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Diamond

Each diamond represents a different hazard.

Blue = Health Hazard
Red = Flammability
Yellow = Reactivity
White = Special Hazard Information

A numerical rating will also be provided in the blue, red, and yellow diamonds. This number indicates the severity of the hazard, with a 0 indicating no hazard and 4 indicating the most severe hazard.

 

 

2) Hazardous Materials Information System (HMIS) Label:

The HMIS labeling system operates on the same principle as the NFPA diamond. Blue indicates health hazard, red indicates flammability, yellow indicates reactivity, and special information (such as what personal protective equipment to wear) will be provided in the white section. It also uses a numerical system from 0-4 to indicate the severity of the hazard.

V. Broken Glass

 

Broken glass is the most common accident in the lab even with the best of care. If you are using the equipment properly, you will not get into trouble for breaking a piece of glassware. If you are not using the equipment properly, or if horse-play is involved, you will be required to pay for the broken glassware.

 

 

* If glassware is broken, stop where you are. Report the breakage to Mrs. O'Connor. *

* Cuts and Scrapes *

Do not come into contact with another person's blood!

 

VI. Food and Play - No Way!

Eating and drinking have no place in the classroom or the lab. Do you really want to place your food on the same surface in which a pig was dissected? Besides being gross, it is not safe.

In addition, horseplay of any sort is strictly prohibited. The lab is no place to practice cheerleading routines, sports moves, or your imitation of something you saw on a reality-based television show. This type of behavior will result in immediate removal from the lab.

 

VII. Cleanup

Most people would walk out of a restaurant if they sat down and realized that the place was dirty. A filthy restaurant is a warning sign that the food is likely contaminated with bacteria or other germs. Eating the food could very well result in food poisoning which is not only unpleasant, but potentially dangerous. Just like a restaurant, a dirty lab is also unsafe. Therefore, keeping our lab clean makes it a safer, more enjoyable place. Following these simple guidelines will ensure that our lab passes inspection:

Mrs. O'Connor will inspect the lab at the end of each class period. If a lab station does not pass inspection, the entire lab group working at that station may loose points on that day's assignment.  Lab groups may want to delegate someone in their group to perform a "pre-Mrs. O'Connor" inspection.

 

VII. Safety Contract

Now that you have read about the rules and procedures that govern our lab, it is time to put them into practice. It is a lot of information to absorb at once but much of it is common sense. Mrs. O'Connor will model the appropriate behavior and she will give you opportunities to learn and practice these procedures.

You and your parent / guardian must read and sign the safety contract provided to you in class before you will be permitted to participate in any lab activity. A copy of this contract will be kept on file. A second copy is to be placed in your science notebook.

 

 

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