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:
- Wear eye protection at ALL times (your eyes may otherwise be damaged by other people's mistakes.)
- Wear a laboratory coat at all times.
- Never eat, drink or smoke.
- Read carefully the safety sections in your laboratory manual, and acknowledge that you thoroughly understand them.
- Most importantly: THINK SAFETY at all times.
Always analyze the experiment you wish to perform for the following risks:
- 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!