American Chemical Society Adds Safety to Core Values
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published March 14, 2018
Electricity and bubbling flasks full of mysterious liquids might entice the most curious of minds when experimenting for the sake of science. There can be fun in messy discovery as well as exploding failure. However, new efforts are being made to promote diligent lab safety. Workplace safety is an essential part of lab professionalism, and the American Chemical Society (ACS) says it wants to recognize the need to improve efforts in safety management. Scientists should regard incidents resulting from poor safety practices as violations of a fundamental professional standard, ACS said. A lack of regard for safety has professional and reputation risks. In a lab setting, improper safety can inflict grave and irreparable harm on workers, students, and bystanders.
“Despite increasing awareness of the importance of having an active safety culture in the workplace, some practitioners see safety as interfering with success,” the ACS noted in its strategic goals for 2018. As part of strategies to improve safety cultures, ACS says it will organize a safety summit as well as support safety promotion in education. “As educational programs work to build a culture of safety, resources for implementing effective practices and guidelines in classrooms and laboratories are needed.”
Lab Safety and Regulations
There are at least 600,000 lab workers in the U.S. with industry numbers growing as automation and other technologies continue to intersect. The laboratory manager plays a vital role in overall safety and the daily operations of the lab. OSHA’s laboratory standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) covers rules to protect workers from chemical, physical, and other safety hazards. Safety typically begins with laboratory layout and carries on through hazardous materials management, from receipt to storage to disposal. Some common lab hazards result from working with chemicals, loud and energized automated machines, and repetitive motion. These hazards can result in injuries from fires, burns, chemical absorption, fume inhalation, and cuts.
Discover Best Solutions
Limit injuries and communicate hazards in laboratories to help promote a safer and compliant working environment. Clearly mark all containers for chemicals in use or being transferred using the proper signal words and pictograms. Provide safety measures and warn workers when welding or other hot work is taking place (or when such activities are limited or prohibited).
Label electrical equipment according to 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2). Equip radiation areas with caution signs. Mark the locations of emergency exits, fire extinguishers, eye wash stations, first aid kits, and safety showers. Personal protective clothing should be available and organized. Emergency shutoffs should always be accessible. Identify equipment that must follow LO/TO procedures and include proper warning signs. LO/TO devices should be stationed for convenience. Ensure spill control kits are full, neat, and assessed for the area. Ensure acid neutralization tanks have the proper warnings and information nearby for cleaning and maintenance. Clearly communicate emergency procedures and post emergency telephone numbers.
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