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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lab Safety

Middle and high school science labs are overflowing with dangerous chemicals that have the potential to ignite, burn and even explode. "They can be toxic, they can be flammable. They can be corrosive and they can be reactive," Jim Kaufman of the Laboratory Safety Institute said.

To prevent burns, lacerations and other injuries from lab accidents, the following lab safety guidelines -- from 40 Steps to a Safer Laboratory, by Jim Kaufman, should be practiced in every school.

* Set up lab equipment properly. Beware of glass items such as tubing, pipettes and cylinders.
* Turn off all gas valves, hot plates and burners when not in use.
* Provide students with safety goggles to protect their eyes from chemicals.
* Label all chemicals to show the name, the nature and degree of hazard and the appropriate precautions.
* Have a safety shower available for students to use if they are splashed with chemicals.
* Have a fire extinguisher available in case of small lab fires.
* Use proper disposal containers for wasterpaper, broken glass and flammables.
* Display phone numbers of the fire department, police department and local ambulance next to a phone in the lab.
* Provide an appropriate supply of first aid equipment and instruction on its proper use.