ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




All laboratories should contain a basic first aid cabinet. Specific contents may vary according to local requirements however cabinets should at least contain the following:80

absorbent cotton wool.
adhesive plaster 25 x 27 mm
assorted adhesive dressings
face mask (cloth or paper)
face mask for EAR (expired air resuscitation - to protect a rescuer from potential harm from a victim)
first aid manual
roller bandages 25 x 27 mm
sharp pointed tweezers
sterile dressings of various sizes
sterile gloves
triangular bandages (x 2)
tubular bandages and applicator

There are some items which are not recommended for inclusion in a first aid kit.81 These include:

  • painkillers - a packet of 24 paracetamol may be included. Larger quantities and other compounds encourage indiscriminate use
  • proprietary eye drops, eye baths or irrigation flasks - a soft, continuos flow stream of water is the best means of clearing eyes of contamination. Eye baths and irrigation flasks are difficult to sterilise
  • antiseptics - which require dilution before use
  • mercurochrome - contains highly toxic mercury which can have potentially adverse effects
  • antiseptic creams - are not recommended as modern first aid treatment for infection
  • burn care gels - lotion, ointment, gel, cream or powder are not recommended for burns treatment
  • Indigestion relieving tablets


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