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The Importance of Lab Safety—in School and in Your Career

Posted: May 12, 2015

Hazards present in the laboratory where it is to be used. Laboratory personnel must receive training regarding the Laboratory standard, the CHP, and other laboratory safety practices, including exposure detection, physical and health hazards associated with chemicals, and protective measures. The Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). Basic safety rules for laboratory conduct should be observed whenever working in a laboratory. Many of the most common safety rules are listed below. Know locations of laboratory safety showers, eyewashstations, and fire extinguishers. The safety equipment may be located in the hallway near the laboratory entrance.

Any job you work at comes with its own safety hazards. When you work in a lab—like those who work in healthcare, trades, and more—you must be mindful of the chemicals and tools you’ll encounter that may cause serious injury if handled improperly. Therefore, it’s important to always follow lab safety procedures.

Whether you’re on the job or just learning, lab safety is priority number one!

Online medical assistant students already working in their careers know that the safety precautions they take in the laboratory could actually save someone’s life. However, did you know that lab safety begins with your online career training?

We at Career Quest Learning Centers are dedicated to the safety of our Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana students. That’s why lab safety is always taken seriously. We know that what you learn during your education will stay with you throughout your career.

What Is Lab Safety?

Working in a lab often means you’re surrounded by chemicals and other hazardous materials. Lab safety is all about being aware of your surroundings as well as cultivating a specific skillset that is used to keep you, your peers, and the lab safe.

Lab safety is often broken down into smaller components, like recognizing hazards, minimalizing risks, and more.

How You Can Be Safe in the Lab

When practicing lab safety, one of the ways you can ensure the safety of you and your colleagues is to recognize any potential hazards. If you’re working in a lab with flammable chemicals, know where these chemicals are located and where emergency supplies are in case a fire breaks out.

Another way you can practice lab safety is by minimizing risks. This includes wearing proper lab equipment, handling waste properly, and working in a safe environment.

The Importance of Practicing Lab Safety

There are many reasons why it’s important to practice lab safety while both in school and in your career. We’ve listed just a handful of reasons discussing the importance of lab safety. Here are some of the most important.

It really can save lives.

We’ve already talked about the importance of minimizing lab risks. When these steps aren’t taken, something may go wrong.

When lab safety procedures aren’t followed, people can get hurt–or worse. Lab equipment and chemicals that are improperly handled can result in personal injury and even death. Chemical spills, toxic fumes, needle pricks, and fires can harm lab workers, while errors in how medications are handled and distributed can harm patients.

Lab safety protects property.

Fires can occur when lab safety procedures are not followed. Chemicals that are improperly stored or handled can react with one another to cause fires and explosions. The subsequent property damage can affect the lab, all the work performed there, and all the people depending on what that lab does.

It protects equipment.

It may seem like extra work to clean and store that microscope to the exacting standards that your instructor insists upon, but it’s that way for a reason. Taking care of equipment ensures that it does the job it needs to, while extending its usefulness for as long as possible.

Proper lab safety prevents cross contamination.

Disease and bacteria are spread when lab procedures are not followed. The instruments used by students and professionals must be fully cleaned and sterilized to prevent the dangerous spread of these diseases and bacteria.

It ensures accurate recordkeeping.

Whether you’re a medical assistant, pharmacy technician, or researcher in a lab, the records you keep are vitally important. Proper lab safety ensures that patient information, procedures, and medications are accurate, up to date, and available to all the healthcare professionals treating the patient or researchers working on a project.

Lab safety helps the facility and the profession.

Proper lab safety ensures the good reputation of the lab, healthcare facility, clinic, or pharmacy you work in. When people believe you work in a professional and safe environment, they’re more likely to trust you and what you do. What you do for your individual employer also reflects well on the industry as a whole.

Start a Career in Lab Work

There are lots of different careers that entail working in a lab to varying degrees. If you pursue a career as a phlebotomist, you may work in an in-house lab facility that runs bloodwork for patients. As a medical assistant, you may run diagnostic tests in the hospital you work at.

No matter what career path you take, proper lab safety is essential.

At Career Quest, we not only teach the necessary skills and information needed to succeed in your new career, but we also teach proper lab protocols to ensure the safety of you and your surroundings.

Career in Healthcare

No matter which career path you take within the healthcare field, chances are you’ll be in some sort of lab environment. With so much variety among this field, we offer several different certificate and degree programs—some of which are taught online.

Our healthcare programs include:

  • Medical assistant
  • Ophthalmic assistant
  • Certified nurse aid (CNA)
  • Medical billing & coding
  • Medical office administration (AAS)

Gain Lab Experience Before Graduating

Many of our healthcare programs include externship opportunities. This way, you can get real-world, hands-on experience within this field before you graduate. As you start your job search, local employers will look favorably upon this foundation of externship experience.

Learn More About Lab Safety Today

Lab safety is essential for dozens of reasons. At the end of the day, proper lab safety keeps you and your surroundings as safe as possible while dealing with potentially hazardous materials.

If you’d like career training that includes instruction on proper lab safety, Career Quest is here to help. With over 25 years of experience at our accredited career college, we’ve fine-tuned our education to help get you career-ready in as little as 8 months!

Our online classes are now open for enrollment for Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana students. Don’t wait any longer to contact one of our responsive admissions counselors today!

Laboratories

Laboratories Menu Workers' Rights

Overview

OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provides specific information about protecting workers from coronavirus during the ongoing outbreak.

  • Laboratory Safety Guidance. OSHA Booklet.
  • Laboratory Safety – OSHA Laboratory Standard. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Hygiene Plan. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Labeling and Transfer of Chemicals. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Fume Hoods. OSHA QuickFacts.
Measurement

Chemical Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Fume Hoods. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Illicit Drug Tool-Kit for First Responders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Biological Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Working with Small Animals. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Biosafety Cabinets (BSCs). OSHA Fact Sheet.

Physical Hazards

Lab Safety & Measurement Unit  Miss E. Mac's Classic

  • Laboratory Safety – Noise. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Laboratories. OSHA Fact Sheet.

Safety Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Autoclaves /Sterilizers. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Centrifuges. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Cryogens and Dry Ice. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Electrical Hazards. OSHA QuickFacts.

Other Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Latex Allergy. OSHA QuickFacts.

More than 500,000 workers are employed in laboratories in the U.S. The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards, as well as musculoskeletal stresses. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous local, state and federal regulations. Over the years, OSHA has promulgated rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for personnel.

OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on laboratory safety. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities and other services OSHA offers, read OSHA's Workers page.

In addition to information on OSHA standards and guidance that deal with laboratory hazards, other links are provided with information from other governmental and non-governmental agencies that deal with various aspects of laboratory safety.

Although the OSHA standards referenced on this web page deal specifically with laboratories within the jurisdiction of Federal OSHA, there are twenty-eight OSHA-approved state plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standard and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements. Contact your local or state OSHA office for further information. Additional information is on available on the OSHA-approved state plans page.

Lab Safety & Measurement Unit  Miss E. Mac's Class Of

Standards

There are several specific OSHA standards that apply to laboratories as well as other OSHA standards that apply to various aspects of laboratory activities. The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) was created specifically for non-production laboratories. Additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards as well as biological, physical and safety hazards. For hazards that are not covered by a specific OSHA standard, OSHA often provides guidance on protecting workers from these hazards.

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Culture of Safety

With the promulgation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Laboratory standard (29 CFR 1910.1450), a culture of safety consciousness, accountability, organization, and education has developed in industrial, governmental, and academic laboratories. Safety and training programs have been implemented to monitor the handling of chemicals from ordering to disposal, and to train laboratory personnel in safe practices. A crucial component of chemical education for all personnel is to nurture basic attitudes and habits of prudent behavior so that safety is a valued and inseparable part of all laboratory activities throughout their career.

Lab Safety & Measurement Unit  Miss E. Mac's Class A

Enforcement

Highlights OSHA directives and letters of interpretation related to the laboratory standard.

Lab Safety & Measurement Unit  Miss E. Mac's Class C

Hazard Recognition and Solutions

Provides links to indices of occupational hazards associated with laboratories.

Additional Resources

Provides links and references to additional resources related to laboratories.

OSHA's COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page provides specific information about protecting workers from coronavirus during the ongoing outbreak.

  • Laboratory Safety Guidance. OSHA Booklet.
  • Laboratory Safety – OSHA Laboratory Standard. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Hygiene Plan. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Labeling and Transfer of Chemicals. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Fume Hoods. OSHA QuickFacts.

Chemical Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Chemical Fume Hoods. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Illicit Drug Tool-Kit for First Responders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Biological Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Working with Small Animals. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Biosafety Cabinets (BSCs). OSHA Fact Sheet.

Physical Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Noise. OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory Safety – Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Laboratories. OSHA Fact Sheet.

Safety Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Autoclaves /Sterilizers. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Centrifuges. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Cryogens and Dry Ice. OSHA QuickFacts.
  • Laboratory Safety – Electrical Hazards. OSHA QuickFacts.

Other Hazards

  • Laboratory Safety – Latex Allergy. OSHA QuickFacts.