CHAPTER 7

GENERAL LABORATORY SAFETY

2.0 LABORATORY SAFETY - GENERAL RULES

 

2.1  Introduction

2.2  Preventative Measures

2.3  Personal Safety

    2.3.1  Laboratory Security

    2.3.2  Laboratory Dress Code

    2.3.3  Oral Exposure Protection

    2.3.4  Eye Protection

    2.3.5  Respiratory Protection Program


2.1       Introduction

Safety should be thought about, acted upon, and encouraged until it becomes habit. Every laboratory worker should observe the following rules.

 

2.2       Preventative Measures

Know the safety rules and procedures that apply to the work that is being done.  Determine the potential hazards and appropriate safety precautions before beginning any new operations.  Be alert to unsafe conditions and actions.  Call attention to them so that corrections can be made as soon as possible.  Be aware of what others in the lab are doing and alter or delay procedures to maximize safety for all occupants of the lab.

 

2.3       Personal Safety

2.3.1       Laboratory Security

Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the laboratory.  Laboratory doors must be locked when the lab is unoccupied, regardless of the length of time.

2.3.2       Laboratory Dress Code

Exposed skin must always be covered when working with hazardous agents. Additional outer clothing such as a lab coat or cover gown must be used.  Lab coats or cover gowns used for work with hazardous materials must not be worn in general campus areas (e.g., conference rooms, restroom, cafeterias, snack/break rooms, etc.) due to potential contamination.  A lab coat or cover gown that has been worn in the lab while working with hazardous materials is considered potentially contaminated or “dirty”.  A lab coat not worn in a lab, or worn in a lab while performing work not involving hazardous materials, is considered "clean." A clean/dirty lab coat policy meeting these requirements must be established for each lab.  Potentially contaminated or “dirty” lab coats must not be taken home for laundering due to the potential for exposing family members or others to contaminants.  The UTMB laundry must be used for laundering of dirty, reusable lab coats or gowns.  Reusable lab coats or gowns should be laundered when a hazardous material is spilled or splashed on the coat/gown, or when the non-disposable coat/gown becomes visibly soiled.  Alternatively, disposable lab coats or gowns may be used and disposed of when a hazardous material is spilled or splashed on the coat/gown, when the disposable coat/gown becomes visibly soiled, or changed out on a specific time frame.

Open toed shoes and shorts are not allowed in the laboratory setting.  Closed shoes, preferably of leather, must be worn when in the laboratory.

Know the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are required and available (goggles, shoes, etc.) and use the proper type for each job.  Specific PPE is mandated by agent use and appears in subsequent chapters.

 

2.3.3       Oral Exposure Protection

Do not eat, drink, smoke or apply cosmetics in the laboratory or in any location where chemicals or other hazardous agents are used or stored.  Always wash hands prior to eating, drinking, smoking or applying cosmetics.

Eating areas must be separated from lab areas by floor to ceiling walls and a closed door.

Do not pipette by mouth.

 

2.3.4       Eye Protection

Eye protection must be worn in the laboratory whenever work may generate aerosols or hazardous chemicals or biological agents are involved.  Contacts may be worn in the lab; however, eye protection must still be worn as well.

 

2.3.5       Respiratory Protection Program

If you are potentially exposed to airborne hazardous substances at UTMB, your job duties should be evaluated.  Following such an evaluation, the need for respiratory protection will be determined.  Hazards can often be engineered out or procedures changed to minimize the hazard making respirator use unnecessary.  In fact, using a respirator is the least preferable method of controlling exposures. 

The General Industry Safety and Health Regulations lists minimal acceptable requirements for a respiratory protection program.  The State of Texas has adopted these regulations by reference.  Basically, these requirements are as follows: 

·         Establish written standard -operating procedures (SOPs) governing the selection and use..

·         Select respirators based on the hazards to which the worker is exposed.

·         Instruct and train each user in proper use and limitations of their respirator.

·         Establish a maintenance schedule: Those respirators used by more than one worker must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and inspected after each use.  Worn or deteriorated parts must be replaced.  Emergency response equipment must be included in these schedules.

·         Respirators shall be stored in a convenient, clean, and sanitary location.

·         Conduct appropriate surveillance of work area conditions including monitoring, inspections and evaluations to determine the continued effectiveness of the program.

·         Ensure personnel receive a medical evaluation prior to wearing a respirator.  A physician shall determine what health and physical conditions are pertinent.  The respirator user’s medical status should be reviewed periodically (i.e., annually).

·         Use NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health) approved respirators.  

If you currently use a respirator or feel that a particular aspect of your job requires the use of one, please contact EHS for an evaluation.