ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
SAFETY RULES FOR LABORATORY STAFF
These general safety rules are not necessarily in order of
importance, nor is the list complete. Specific rules are covered
under specific headings:
Do not sniff at the neck of a bottle to determine the
- When inscribing any glassware wear protective glasses to
prevent possible eye damage from slivers of glass.
- Correct methods should be used for lifting and carrying
reagents, especially corrosives and flammables.
- Always carry large containers of acid in an acid carrier.
- Store reactive agents such as acetic acid, sulphuric acid
and nitric acid in separate areas of the laboratory.
- Keep acetone and other flammable liquids in quantities
necessary only for current work.
- Dilute concentrated acids by pouring the concentrated acid
into water. Pour slowly to prevent splashing.
- When working with chemicals dangerous to the eyes, wear
goggles that have shields. If wearing contact lenses be
- Contact lenses should not be worn in any preparation area
where there is the likelihood that a splash to the eye could
occur. Serious damage to the eye can occur if chemicals get
under contact lenses or react with contact lenses.
- When working with carcinogens wear gloves, mask, coat and
work beneath a ventilation hood suitable for handling
- Do not pipette anything by mouth.
- Avoid inhaling vapours of volatile liquids as many of them
are toxic. Always handle volatile liquids in a ventilation hood.
- Do not reach above eye level for any container of
- Know where your eyewash is and how to use it.
- Know where your nearest safety shower is and how to use it.
- Protect your hands when cleaning or sharpening sharp objects
- Use the proper means for disposing of the various substances
- Use both hands when handling large bottles and never lift
them by the top alone.
- Wear disposable gloves and mask when handling infectious
- Identify infectious agents with a label on the container.
- Handle all tissue samples as though they are infectious.
- Wash hands often with disinfectant soap and always wash your
hands before leaving the work area.
- Walk carefully in and near to the histology laboratory.
Paraffin wax makes floors very slippery.
- When lighting a bunsen burner ignite the match before
turning on the gas.
- Confine long hair.
- Perform staining and coverslipping in a well ventilated
- Wash hands thoroughly after any procedure.
- Do NOT SMOKE, EAT or DRINK in the laboratory.
- Wear sensible shoes that offer the foot some protection from
chemical spills and dropped heavy items.
- Do not work alone while doing laboratory that may be
hazardous or cause loss of body functions.
- Never store food in refrigerators used for the storage of
chemicals or biological material.
- Never store chemicals or biological material in a
refrigerator used for the storage of food.
- Be familiar with the hazardous properties of the chemicals
you use. Read the MSDS.
- Wear protective clothing and gloves that are not permeable
to any chemicals you use.
- Do not operate equipment unless you have received
instruction on its use.
- Keep the laboratory free of clutter.
- Never store chemicals on the floor.
- Dispose of chemical waste properly, even small quantities.
Consult local authorities.
- Now where ALL safety equipment is stored.
- Secure all compressed gas cylinders to walls or benches.
Do not reach across benches to high shelves
Australian Standards 2243 (1982)
Safety in Laboratories, Part 1 General
North Sydney, Australia.
Department of Health and Social Security (1980)
Code of Practice for Prevention of Infection in Clinical
Laboratories and P.M. Rooms.
H.M. Stationery Office, London, England.
Department of Health, N.S.W. (1986)
Code of Safe Practice in Clinical Laboratories.
N.S.W. Government Printer, Australia.
University of Adelaide (1987)
University of Adelaide Safety Handbook.
University of Adelaide Printing Section, South Australia.
Miller, B.M. et al. (1986)
Laboratory Safety: Principles and Practices.
American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC, U.S.A.
Bretherick, L. (1986)
Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory, 4th Edition.
Royal Chemical Society, London.
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