Chemistry has strict laws and regulations to help prevent injuries. School laboratories and chemical companies also have their own specific internal safety procedures to protect students and employees.
Whether you are a chemistry student or a professional chemist, it is important to handle chemicals safely. Of course, you should always wear protective gear such as goggles and gloves when handling hazardous chemicals, However, preventing injuries in chemistry is also about ensuring that chemicals are stored correctly.
Make sure you know what type of container to use, as well as the required temperature and pressure. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the shelf life and reactivity of a particular chemical. For example, if a chemical is combustible, you’ll need to make sure there are no ignition sources nearby (unless you’re planning on controlled combustion).
What are the Most Common Injuries in Chemistry Laboratories?
Although most chemical-related injuries are preventable, accidents still happen. here are some most common injuries which the people maintain.
- flash burn , This type of injury can occur if you accidentally touch a Bunsen burner, torch or flammable chemical. Be careful when igniting the Bunsen burner, especially if you are using a matchstick. Do not open the valve completely to avoid flash burn.
- heat burns , From hot plates to exothermic chemical reactions, there is always the risk of heat burn when you work in a chemical laboratory.
- chemical burn , acid, basesOxidizing agents and other highly reactive chemicals can cause irritation when in contact with the skin.
- lung damage , Volatile and harmful chemicals can irritate or even damage the lungs when inhaled.
- cut and scrap , Sharp or sharp objects, blades and broken laboratory glassware can all cause cuts or scrapes.
- poisoning , While working in the laboratory, your clothing, skin or hair may become contaminated with trace chemicals. These chemicals can then find their way into your food and be inadvertently swallowed.
It is always good to assume that the substances you use, mix, analyze and use in a chemical laboratory are dangerous. Therefore you should take the necessary precautions and practice standard protocols every time you handle chemicals.
Laboratory chemicals can be corrosive, caustic, combustible, explosive, toxic, or even carcinogenic. Some chemicals don’t have immediate or obvious effects, but prolonged exposure to these substances can be harmful to your health.
Best ways to prevent chemical injuries
Many accidents that happen in chemistry laboratories are preventable. you can easily reduce Health hazards and risks of injuries By following safety protocols and precautions. Here are some examples.
- wear PPE , always wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, such as laboratory gown or apron, goggles, gloves, face mask, and a face shield while working in a chemistry laboratory. Scale-up your protective equipment as the chemicals you are handling become more dangerous.
- read chemical information , Substances used in chemistry laboratories will have varying levels of hazards, so it is important to read the chemical information written on the container’s label. Highly hazardous chemicals procured from a reputable supplier will also have the same Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS),
- check temperature , Always check the temperature before touching laboratory equipment and chemicals. You never know whether the beaker, flask, or test tube, for example, has recently been subjected to heat.
- proper ventilation , A chemistry laboratory must be properly ventilated. It can be as simple as opening all the windows when working with chemicals. HVAC systems can also be designed to properly circulate indoor air to outside air and vice versa.
- proper fire precautions , Fire extinguishers, automatic sprinklers, emergency exits and fire alarms should be installed in any chemical laboratory.
- Avoid using match sticks , Do not use a small match stick when trying to ignite a Bunsen burner or a flammable chemical such as phosphorous. This can help prevent burns caused by a flash flame.
- proper storage , Be careful when storing chemicals and always consider the specific properties of the substance. Store chemicals in the correct environmental conditions, for example, at the correct temperature and pressure. Some chemicals should be kept in a well-ventilated storage facility, while others should be stored in a separate building entirely, especially if in large quantities. Requires certain types of chemicals stored in metal containerswhile others should be stored in plastic cans,
- emergency wash/shower area , The chemistry laboratory should have an emergency washing/shower area so that workers can clean themselves in case of accidental chemical leakage or body contamination.
- First Aid Kit , A chemistry laboratory should have a cabinet for a first aid kit, which includes a poison antidote.
- security protocol , Chemistry laboratories must follow safety protocols that are appropriate for the chemicals to be used, analyzed, and processed. In addition to standard and mandatory safety regulations, laboratories must also have their own internal protocols that are specific to certain chemicals and conditions.
- a good lab layout , Wherever possible, the chemistry laboratory should not be cramped. There should be enough room to move around, especially if there are multiple people working in the same area at the same time.
- proper staff training , Laboratory staff must receive appropriate training to ensure that they fully understand chemical hazards and safety protocols.
What are the most dangerous chemicals?
The most dangerous chemicals are those with weapons, such as nerve agents. However, there are many non-weapon chemicals used in industries that are also highly hazardous. Many of these chemicals are corrosive/caustic, toxic, toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic. These include organic and biochemicals such as poisons.
Here are some of the most dangerous chemicals:
- batrachotoxin , The most toxic bio-organic chemical produced by the poison dart frog.
- chlorine trifluoride , A highly corrosive chemical that can also corrode glass.
- potassium cyanide , Historically used as a suicide bullet, it can kill within minutes.
- Toxic Agent X , A weaponized nerve agent with a lethal dose of about 10 mg.
- ricin , A naturally occurring organic compound found in the seeds of the castor oil plant. Only a very small amount of pure ricin (equivalent to a few grains of salt) is needed to kill a person almost instantly.
Chemical Safety Training for Lab Technicians
While qualified laboratory technicians may have received formal laboratory safety training at a college or university, they may still be required to undergo specific training at their workplace.
Lab technicians should be given employee safety training upon starting a new position. Some long-term employees may also need to update their training from time to time. Training typically includes safety protocols, chemical classification and storage, and emergency first aid.
All material published on the ReAgent.co.uk blog is for informational purposes only. The Blog, its authors and affiliates cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or damage, partially or directly, from using the information provided. Additionally, we do not recommend using any chemicals without reading the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which can be obtained from the manufacturer. You should also follow any safety advice and precautions listed on the product label. If you have health and safety questions, go here hse.gov.uk,