Chemistry is very much a practical science and as such the laboratory environment is a very important one in the undergraduate program in chemistry. One particular aspect of laboratory work that is of concern to all is safety.
The development of a sensible and conscious awareness of safety in the controlled conditions of the undergraduate laboratory is not only sound policy from the point of view of self-preservation (and the preservation of others) but will also be valuable to you in your everyday life and future employment. (In industry a poor safety record is indicative of production and profit loss)
In the undergraduate laboratories you must:
- Wear eye protection at ALL times. (Your eyes may otherwise be damaged by other people's mistakes.)
- Wear a lab coat at all times.
- Never eat, drink or smoke.
- Read carefully the safety sections in your laboratory manual.
- Most importantly: THINK SAFETY at all times.
Always analyze the experiment you wish to perform for the following risks:
- Toxicity of chemicals (reactants AND products).
The common emergencies which occur in laboratories are: thermal and chemical burns; chemicals in the eye; cuts and puncture wounds from glass or metal; skin irritation by chemicals; poisoning by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption; asphyxiation (chemical or electrical). Most of the accidents that occur in the undergraduate laboratories would be avoided if YOU, the undergraduate, would: