Laboratory Safety

Chemistry is very much a practical science, and as such the laboratory environment is a very important one in all chemistry undergraduate programs. One particular aspect of laboratory work that is of paramount 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 invaluable to you in your everyday life and future employment.

In the undergraduate laboratories you MUST:

  1. Wear eye protection at ALL times (your eyes may otherwise be damaged by other people's mistakes.)
  2. Wear a laboratory coat at all times.
  3. Never eat, drink or smoke.
  4. Read carefully the safety sections in your laboratory manual, and acknowledge that you thoroughly understand them.
  5. Most importantly: THINK SAFETY at all times.

Always analyze the experiment you wish to perform for the following risks:

  1. Fire;
  2. Toxicity and other hazardous properties of chemicals (reactants, products and other auxiliary substances such as solvents).

The common emergencies which occur in laboratories are: thermal/chemical burns; chemicals in the eye; cuts/puncture wounds from glass or metal; skin irritation from contact with chemicals; poisoning by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption; and asphyxiation (chemical or electrical). Your role in helping to avoid accidents  in the undergraduate laboratories is crucial, and requires you to THINK SAFETY at all times!