The importance of a chemical hygiene plan is to ensure the processes, protocols, tools and equipment are available to assist workers guard against the hazards presented in a laboratory. Just like many safety plans, the chemical protection plans need to be continually reviewed and updated for an effective and safe lab.
Check out these six tips which allow laboratories to maintain clean, safe and hygienic strategies that lessen the risk of leaks, spills and hazardous chemical exposures.
It is important to know how to correctly handle spilt chemicals as even seasoned technicians can spill hazardous material. The most important step in cleaning up a chemical spill should involve the control and containment of the spill. All personnel must be wearing the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including safety googles, gloves and long-sleeve lab coats to ensure the spill is contained.
- The spill should be contained from spreading by creating a barrier using absorbent materials around the edges of the spill
- If the substance is volatile or can produce harmful vapours, close the lab door immediately and increase ventilation to the area, if possible.
Spill Response Plans should address spill prevention, proper ventilation, containment procedures, when to evacuate, reporting requirements and how to obtain medical care. It is important to have a spill kit always ready in each laboratory to assist trained workers regulate and contain a spill effectively, helping to minimize exposure.
It is vital workers know how to correctly handle, tag or discard of any material or article that is damaged so it is not put back into service or reused until it has been repaired. By ensuring containment trays are always used, the safety of your lab is upheld through controlling the mess as it doesn’t take much for a hairline crack to fail and cause a spill.
Dealing with broken glassware can be just as dangerous as chemical spills so it is important that items prone to being damaged are checked prior to each use.
How to avoid accidents when dealing with broken glassware:
- Discard any damaged glassware in a container specifically marked to indicate its contents.
- Heat or rapid temperature changes should only be applied to borosilicate glassware
- All containers should be labelled to clearly identify their contents
- Safety glasses should always be worn in a laboratory
Using SOPS (Standard Operating Procedure)
Although many people may bristle at the thought of “standardization,” creating a set of SOPs for your organisation may be one of the most important safety tools you can employ.
A standard operating procedure is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organisation to help workers carry out routine operations. This process is directly linked to managing the safety of your lab as it addresses the use of correct personal protective equipment, safe handling and correct disposal of chemicals.
The cause of worker injury and loss of work time relates to the concept of housekeeping. The maintenance of tidy and dry floors will prevent slips and fall injuries resulting in clean, uncluttered work surfaces.
Stocking absorbent mat pads and wipes in spill-prone areas ultimately maximizes the effectiveness of a hygienic lab where the chances of slips and falls are reduced. Likewise, storing excess chemicals on benches should be discouraged so workers can perform with adequate space.
Well organized and effectively laid out storerooms promote a safe and maintained laboratory. By appointing one person as the storeroom manager, it can ultimately minimize the risk of duplicate orders and ensure expired chemicals are disposed of correctly.
It is important in a lab when managing its safety to provide quick and easy access to tools such as eyewash stations, fire extinguishers and drench showers. This is to lessen the effects of chemical exposure if workers are involved in spills etc.
Maintaining safety equipment includes container labels and signs which serve as a continual reminder of specific handling, use and disposal procedures promoting a safe and secure laboratory.