General Lab Safety

Appropriate hazardous, toxic, inflammable labels etc. must be displayed outside every lab where such materials are placed and/or used. The hazardous chemicals, by definition involve any substance, which can cause physical or physiological damage to human or surrounding environment.
The lab safety levels and responsible person's name should be displayed on the opening door of every laboratory. It is the duty of every PI/Faculty member that, they have to inform at ORIC for their biological safety level. As an introduction the categories of such research labs are presented in table-1.
Paste a label on your laboratory door, if you have enforced biological safety levels (BSL-2, 3 and 4) in your lab.
Make sure all the containers are labeled properly. Check the labels on bottles before removing their contents
Locate the inflammables, acids, corrosives and carcinogenic materials at separate places in the lab. All ethanol/methanol or inflammable items are stored in opposite to laminar airflow or gas burner points. Such chemicals including acids or corrosive materials are stored in the cabinets close to the ground.
All the inflammable or highly reactive compounds like methanol or SDS should be opened in fume hood to avoid respiratory tract damage.
Every student and technician in the lab must get 2 hours mandatory training arranged by the university.
Every lab should have a responsible person in addition to the PI for chemicals.
Develop awareness among researchers in lab meetings about lab safety.
Cooperate with safety officer and committee for implementing the safety measures.
Every lab should be equipped with safety goggles. All the researchers using UV lights, heating/boiling liquids on hot plates, must use safety goggles.
Every researcher should use latex gloves to deal with carcinogenic, corrosive and hazardous microbes.
All PIs must purchase autoclavable bags for autoclaving microbes, transgenic animals and plants, before discarding in regular trash.
A worker using the instrument/chemical is responsible for personal safety. Do not touch any equipment or instrument if you are not trained for it. Ask the laboratory supervisor or the PI for help.
Get training for work safety in the lab. If you do not understand a direction or part of a procedure, ASK YOUR TEACHER OR RESPONSIBLE SAFETY PERSON BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH THE ACTIVITY.
No researcher should work alone in the laboratory. Always inform your supervisor that you will work in the laboratory alone.
When first entering the lab, never touch any equipment/chemical or instrument with your hands. Always seek permission from the supervisor.
Only perform the experiments authorized by your supervisor. You cannot start work if you are not authorized.
Practical jokes and pranks are very dangerous and are strictly prohibited.
Make sure the lab is well ventilated. Inform security if there is a gas leakage or electricity problems.
Be alert and work with caution. Inform your teacher if your co-workers are not working safely.
The freezers storing ethanol/enzymes/hazardous chemicals or microbes cannot be used for food storage. Every microwave and freezer in the laboratory should be labeled for "No food items here".
Researchers wearing contact lens must be warned for exposure to UV light or flames due to chemicals burning.
Keep the work area clear of all materials except those needed for your work. Dress properly during a laboratory activity and wear Lab Coats. Coats should be hung in the hall or placed in a locker. Extra books, purses, etc. should be kept away from equipment that requires air-flow or ventilation to prevent overheating. Long hair, dangling jewelry, and loose or baggy clothing are a hazard in the laboratory. Long hair must be tied back, and dangling jewelry and baggy clothing must be secured. Shoes must completely cover the foot. No sandals allowed while working.
Do not taste or smell any chemical in the lab.
Drinking water from lab sink is strongly prohibited. Every sink should be with a note, "no drinking water".
Never suck the pipette with mouth. Always use proper equipment to suck chemicals.
Never return the un-used chemical to the original bottle. Transfer it to a new bottle and mention the date of use and removal.
Examine glassware before each use. Never use chipped, cracked, or dirty glassware.
Do not immerse hot glassware in cold water. The glassware may shatter.
Never look into a container that is being heated. The vapors may be dangerous and can damage eyes or skin.
Equipment Failure - If a piece of equipment fails while being used, report it immediately to your lab assistant or tutor. Never try to fix the problem yourself because you could harm yourself and others. For example, always inform your instructor if you break a thermometer. Do not clean mercury yourself!
If leaving a lab unattended, turn off all ignition sources and lock the doors.
Never ever look into a laser beam.
When you are adjusting any high voltage equipment or a laser, which is powered with a high voltage supply, USE ONLY ONE HAND. Your other hand is best placed in a pocket or behind your back. This procedure eliminates the possibility of an accident where high voltage current flows up one arm, through your chest, and down the other arm.
Avoid using extension cords whenever possible. If you must use one, obtain a heavy- duty one that is electrically grounded, with its own fuse, and install it safely. Extension cords should not go under doors, across aisles, be hung from the ceiling, or plugged into other extension cords.
The cylinders containing explosive/inflammable gases must be fixed or encaged properly with certain support, otherwise these may collapse resulting in severe accident.
The labs must be equipped with smoke detectors to cope with any fire related accident at first hand.
Every lab must have more than one entrance/exit to escape any kind of accidental blockage.
Emergency rescue agencies (1122, fire brigade, Edhi trust etc.) contact numbers must be pasted/hanged in each and every lab.
Make sure that electric power buttons for lights, fans, air conditioners and computers etc. are properly switched off before leaving the lab to avoid any chance of short-circuiting due to prevailing electric power fluctuations.
Do not use cell phones while dealing with inflammable chemicals and Hi-Tech equipment as these may acts as source of ignition and electronic signal interference respectively.
Waste Disposal. Every lab should have following waste containers in the lab.; waste bags should be placed in every waste disposal container:

i. A small container for sharp objects, like blades, needles etc.
ii. A big container for broken glasses
iii. A liquid ethidium bromide, if being used, waste container
iv. A liquid toxic waste such as phenol container
v. A solid waste container for toxic chemicals (such as phenol), used tips and tubes. Every container should be properly labeled
Do not pour any chemicals into sink.
Dispose of all the chemicals according to their appropriate waste disposal procedures.
Always wear gloves when dealing with waste of hazardous chemicals and microorganisms.
Every researcher should have small trash boxes on his/her table.
Do not handle broken glass with your bare hands. Use a brush and dustpan to clean up broken glass. Place broken glass in the designated glass disposal container. Clean up spills immediately.
Ethidium bromide is highly carcinogenic chemical and can never be discarded into sink. The powdered form of ethidium bromide is considered irritant to eyes, upper respiratory tract and skin. The Green Bag� Kit containing a "tea bag" should be utilized for its disposal. This tea bag can be left in ethidium bromide buffer container and after 3-4 days (when tea bag absorbs all the ethidium bromide) the buffer can be discarded into sink. All sharp blades used for cutting the ethidium bromide stained gels should be kept separate. Solid ethidium bromide gels should be dried in a hood. The gels with less than 0.5ug/mL of ethidium bromide can be discarded into regular trash after drying. The ethidium bormide area is kept separate from other areas. The pipettes, trays and containers used for ethidium bromide should not be used for other applications.
Phenols/ corrosive chemicals: Phenol should never be discarded into sink. All phenol tips/liquid/solid should be discarded separately. Phenol is irritant to eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Amberlite� XAD�4 polymeric adsorbent is used in several locations around the world to remove phenol from wastewater. Even high concentrations of phenol (20,000 ppm) in wastewater have been effectively treated. Regeneration of the resin is accomplished in several ways: 1% caustic or solvents such as acetone, methanol and formaldehyde.
Wherever possible, use minimum amount of chemicals to avoid a lot of waste production. The chemicals like silver stain or liquid polyacrylamide gel should be properly labeled and should not be disposed in regular trash. Solid PAGE gels can be discarded in regular trash. However, other hazardous chemicals should be stored separately and the university should manage their disposals. If a chemical is inactivated by high temperature, cautions should be taken before autoclaving to avoid volatile compounds production.
Microbial safety: All the bacterial/fungal/other microbial cell lines can never be discarded in sink. Add, 5ml of 10% commercial bleach in 100 ml of culture, leave overnight on bench and then discard in sink. For solid microbial waste disposal, first autoclave the tips etc in an autoclavable bag and then discard into regular trash. First-Aid in the Lab. First aid kit must be made available in every lab.
2. Make sure that every student knows about fire extinguishers in the department or if possible in the laboratory. Every department should have at least 2 fire extinguishers, which are annually monitored for their function.
3. If any chemical splashes in your eye(s) or on your skin, immediately flush with running water for at least 20 minutes.
4. If phenol contacts the skin, workers should immediately wash the affected areas with soap and water. All phenol wastes cannot be disposed in regular trash.
Transgenic plants research safety (Stable or transient) The National Institute of Health (NIH: USA) has established strict guidelines on the proper use and disposal of transgenic plants and other forms of recombinant DNA (rDNA) in research. In order to survive in the international system of safety in plant biotech research, it is very important to follow the rules for developing transgenic plants. This document outlines institutional, investigator and researcher's responsibilities for developing transgenic plants at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Agreement with UAF Guidelines All the projects involving recombinant DNA (rDNA) conducted at the university must comply with the University Biosafety Guidelines. Failure to follow the university guidelines can result in the suspension, limitation, or termination of projects fund for all rDNA research at the University. In addition, any intentional failure to comply has the potential to be defined as academic misconduct as outlined by University policy. Already University has developed both a policy and a protocol, outlined in this fact sheet, through which investigators may obtain the information to work with transgenic plants. As an investigator working with transgenic plants, it is your responsibility to meet these requirements.
As part of the University policy, one must register and get the approval from the Biosafety Committee before doing any experiment in the field with the transgenic plants.
How to dispose off transgenic material? It is required that transgenic plants and materials from transgenic plants including seeds must be inactivated prior to disposal to prevent accidental environmental release. Typically, autoclave treatment is employed for transgenic plants and seed inactivation. If you have questions regarding proper disposal, please contact IBC at the campus or contact Directorate of Research.
Intra- or inter-departmental transfers of rDNA and transgenic materials including transgenic animals and transgenic plants are prohibited without the written approval of the IBC.
It is required that significant research-related incidents be reported immediately to the Institutional Biosafety Committee via the Directorate of Research or directly to IBC. Such incidents include research-related accidents and illnesses as well as inadvertent release or improper disposal of biohazardous or recombinant DNA materials.
All the researchers transferring any transgenic material from outside the country must register with the university and take approval from IBC before growing at campus green houses or fields.
All the transiently infected plants (with virus/bacteria/fungi or any pathogenic species) must be autoclaved before disposal.
Radiation safety protocols If any researcher wants to use any form of radiations, he/she must contact the Safety Committee for proper guidelines for its use and waste disposal.