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Standard Laboratory Safety Equipment

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Instructor: Elizabeth Friedl

Elizabeth, a Licensed Massage Therapist, has a Master's in Zoology from North Carolina State, one in GIS from Florida State University, and a Bachelor's in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. She has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Safety is a top priority in laboratories, which must remain stocked with the current, effective, and mandated equipment to keep scientists and others free from harm. Learn about the importance of frequently inspected safety equipment that is easily accessible, and types of needed equipment like fire extinguishers, ventilation hoods, and eye washing stations. Updated: 10/20/2021

The Importance of Safety Equipment

Imagine that you're cooking in your kitchen and you burn your hand on the stove. The first thing you do is run to the sink and turn on the cold water to help stop the burning and control the damage to your skin, right?

But what would you do if you were burned by a chemical in a lab? Or something splashed into your eyes? Or noxious fumes were floating out into the air? Or an explosion occurred and started a fire? While lab safety rules try to reduce the occurrence of such accidents, they do still occur. Because of this, there are several types of standard safety equipment in your lab that are specifically designed to mitigate any problems that may arise and possibly cause you harm.

If you take a good look around your lab, you should be able to find these items quite easily, and this is no accident! It's important to know ahead of time where they are because the last thing you want when you're hurt is to have to hunt down whatever it is that will prevent further injury. But it's also important to make sure that these safety items stay accessible at all times. Having to push boxes out of the way or climb over containers will take precious time that you may not have to waste. But even worse, this could cause yet another accident - one that could have easily been prevented.

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Types of Safety Equipment

A very important piece of safety equipment that all labs should have is an eye wash station. This is specifically designed to flush your eyes with water, which should be apparent if you look at its design. Water comes out of the two inverted faucets, sprays upward to clean your eyes, and then drains into the sink below.

This is useful for rinsing your eyes, but let's say something instead splashes onto your arm, leg, or torso. In this case, an eye wash station is not going to help you. But as you look around your lab, you'll find something that is specifically designed for washing your body in case of an accident - an emergency shower. This is not your typical shower! There should be a handle that you pull, which quickly activates the shower, sending water out and over your body as you stand underneath.

Every lab will also have a fire extinguisher. This can be used to help put out fires since, just like a grease fire in your kitchen, water is not always the best option! As with all other pieces of safety equipment in a lab, fire extinguishers should be tested or inspected regularly to ensure that they will function properly if they are needed.

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