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Chemistry and Physics Department Lab Safety Checklist Template

Schools and Education

Used to ensure that school labs are maintained and safe.

Basic Principles

Task list

  • Minimize all chemical exposures
  • Use adequate ventilation
  • Take exposure limits seriously
  • Never underestimate risk

Be Familiar with

Task list

  • Chemical container labels and material safety and data sheets
  • Permissible exposure limits for chemicals used
  • Physical and health hazards of chemicals
  • Personal protective equipment
  • When hazardous chemical activities need pre-approval
  • What to do in an emergency

Use Required Ventilation and Protective Equipment

Task list

  • Check for proper hood function before each use
  • Don't store materials on hoods or block vents / air flow
  • Keep hood closed except when making adjustments
  • Wear assigned protective clothing in all laboratory settings
  • Wear closed-toed shoes that fully cover feet

Store, Handle, Dispose of Chemicals Safely

Task list

  • Only keep chemicals needed for the current task in the lab
  • Regularly check inventory lab chemicals; store/dispose of what's not needed
  • Store chemicals in labeled and appropriate containers
  • Store highly toxic substances or opened containers in unbreakable secondary containers
  • Store chemicals in designated, well-ventilated rooms
  • Don't use storerooms for preparation or repackaging
  • Check condition of stored chemicals and containers periodically
  • Store breakable containers in chemically resistant trays or overwrap containers
  • Wrap evacuated glass to protect against explosion
  • Don't use cracked or broken containers
  • Clean up any broken glass immediately and dispose of it properly
  • Carry chemical containers in bucket or other container; use a tray, rack, or cart rather than carrying by hand
  • Have a partner present for jobs with highly hazardous substances
  • Cover work surfaces with removable absorbent plastic-backed paper when working with highly hazardous substances
  • Dispose of chemical waste in properly labeled receptacles
  • Never pour chemical waste down drains or into general trash

Practice Good Hygiene

Task list

  • Don't eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or apply cosmetics in areas with lab chemicals
  • Always wash hands carefully before entering and leaving lab
  • Don't keep food, beverages, or utensils in chemical storage areas (including refrigerators)
  • Don't drink from lab glasses
  • Don't smell or taste chemicals
  • Don't use mouth suction to pipette or start a siphon
  • Keep work area neat
  • Never store or place materials in hallways, on floor, or blocking exits or emergency equipment
  • If an experiment must be left unattended, leave lights on and a warning sign on the door

Prevent Fires, Shock, and Other Lab Hazards

Task list

  • Be sure wires and plugs aren't frayed or broken
  • Use tongs or heat-resistant gloves with autoclaves and equipment that uses heat
  • Don't touch electrical equipment with wet hands or while standing on wet floor
  • Keep clothing/long hair away from equipment with moving parts
  • Keep compressed gas cylinders clean, free of oil and grease, and chained in place
  • Only operate equipment you've been trained to use
  • Immediately report any equipment that's not working properly

Act Promptly and Properly in an Emergency

Task list

  • Clean up small spills immediately; contact emergency response team if appropriate
  • Know how to turn on fire alarm, who to contact, and evacuation route to take
  • For chemical inhalation, get to fresh air and seek medical attention
  • For chemical eye contact, immediately flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention
  • For chemical ingestion, check substance's MSDS for instructions and call poison control
  • For chemical skin contact, wash immediately and thoroughly with water; remove and dispose of contaminated clothing properly; seek medical attention if symptoms persist

Use Common Sense

Task list

  • Be alert to any possibly unsafe situations and report immediately
  • Never indulge in horseplay in the lab or chemical storage area
  • If you see something, say something