ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Before handling any equipment, glassware, chemical or specimen always consider the associated potential hazards. Some examples follow:

  • always carry Winchester bottles in wire carriers
  • if carrying a Winchester bottle over a short distance always place a hand underneath the bottle
  • never carry a Winchester bottle by the neck or cap
  • if a Winchester bottle contains acid or is made of glass, the carrier should be enclosed so that in the event of an accident or breakage the glass and liquid are retained within the carrier (some manufacturers supply Winchester bottles with a plastic protective coating designed to contain spills should the glass break)
  • when handling hot glassware, always use protective gloves
  • specimens retrieved from storage in liquid nitrogen (-190oC) should be handled with protective (leather) gloves
  • always use a hand truck for transporting cylinders of compressed gases. remove regulators and replace protective cylinder cap before transport. NEVER drag or roll cylinders. Secure the cylinder with straps or chains, to the hand truck before transport.
  • wear eye protection while transporting chemicals.
  • do not transport extremely hazardous material by yourself.
  • dry ice should be transported by stairs, never in an elevator. A relatively small block of dry ice can produce enough CO2 gas to displace all oxygen in an enclosed space. The hazard becomes critical if an elevator becomes disabled.

Always ask yourself:

  • should I be using a fume hood or biological safety cabinet?
  • should I be wearing safety goggles or a visor?
  • is a face mask really necessary?
  • is my footwear adequate?
  • are my legs protected?
  • are my colleagues in any danger?
  • is this protocol safe?


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