For many students, time spent in the science lab is the highlight of the school day. After all, there is nothing like the exhilarating thrill of discovery that hands-on science activities provide. Of course, science labs have their fair share of hazards–toxic chemicals, fire sources, sharp instruments, and more. It is crucial, then, to have good safety practices in place.
Even when following all safety protocols and procedures, though, accidents can and do happen in the lab. Chemicals get spilled, mixtures react, and things catch fire. This is why science lab safety stations and emergency equipment are an important part of any lab. Here are some tips to make the most of your safety station.
Be sure your safety station has an eye wash station, shower, and room to keep emergency supplies. Chemicals have an unpleasant way of finding their way into sensitive eyes and every lab should be equipped with these emergency wash stations that are proven to reduce damages caused by chemical spills or sprays. Chemicals on the skin or in the eyes must be rinsed for at least fifteen minutes.
Location, Location, Location
When choosing the placement for your safety station, remember that it should take 10 seconds or less for a student to walk from the science lab to the safety station. Be sure and keep aisles clear at all times allowing anyone to make a brisk trip to the eye wash station or to the nearest fire extinguisher. Do not block the safety station with desks or other items. Easy access to the station is crucial in an emergency.
Keep a full stock of emergency supplies including a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, sodium bicarbonate for acid spills, a chemical spill kit for other types of spills, a first aid kit, and any other items you might need in an emergency. Take stock of your lab’s equipment and make sure to replace anything that is missing before your next experiment. Take time during the first week of class to review all safety devices and provide proper demonstration. Each device should also have clearly marked labels and on-hand instructions for quick reference.
Testing should be done regularly to be sure the safety station is in proper working order. This will expose any water line blockage, worn parts, or other potential problems. Make sure all of the lab fire extinguishers are full and up to date. Practice drills are a good idea for active labs and even consider administering a safety test so that important information is well embedded in everyone’s mind.
Keep chemicals stored in a very secure, locked cabinet that is designed to hold specific chemicals which could be flammable. There are many hazmat safety storage cabinets available that are designed to easily identify chemicals, and keep them safe from unwanted exposure.
The Buddy System
Enact a buddy system for your students so that if someone is in need of medical attention, their buddy will alert you and the class so that assistance can be made efficiently. Many labs work in partners anyway, so this system is almost always built-in, just make sure everyone is accountable for their partner and their own safety.
As you can see, proper safety equipment is as important to the science lab as beakers and Bunsen burners. Worthington Direct has a large selection of science lab furniture, including safety stations. Please contact us if we can help you choose the right equipment for your needs.