Laboratory accidents are common occurrences or risks that most science labs experience. These risks pose serious physical and property damage. This paper presents a comprehensive strategic plan to manage the risks and accidents in the practical laboratories at the university. The plan integrates administrative, procedural, and personal protective equipment controls.
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Practical Laboratories Management Plan
Administrative controls are measures for promoting safety for the management team of a laboratory. These controls summarize the standards and written plans for operating procedures, training, labels, and personal substitutions (Murov 35). Therefore, the administrative controls for avoiding accidents are:
- Ensuring laboratory users are provided with compliance and safety training to conduct experiments safely;
- Making sure users are equipped with adequate procedural or experiment-specific training to conduct duties safely;
- Requiring written prior approval for an experimental procedure in the laboratory;
- Restricting access to laboratory areas, especially where hazardous equipment and chemicals are kept or used;
- Labeling different areas in the laboratory to guide users using the Hazard Assessment and Laboratory Signage (HALS) (Dux 25);
- Ascertaining standard practices for good housekeeping and chemical safety are observed in the laboratory;
- Confirming that prior approval standards for hazardous operations are in line with the OSHA lab requirements (Pal 16).
Procedural controls are requirements, rules, and standard operational procedures (SOPs) defining the chemical usage and handling as summarized below:
- Developing a written SOP for different experimental procedures carried out in the laboratory;
- Training new laboratory personnel about these SOPs and their application;
- Observing and assisting lab users to guarantee that the requirements are met and applied;
- Supervising any activity in the laboratory to ensure that all requirements are met.
Equipment controls are measures for reducing various hazards by focusing on the potential source of an accident. The basic equipment controls include isolating, enclosing, and utilizing exhaust for explosive or poisonous chemical reactions (Zabetakis 19). These regulations include:
- Substituting less explosive or poisonous chemicals or gases in an experiment;
- Isolating hazardous chemical operations from other general experiments;
- Enclosing a potentially explosive experiment in a closed chamber;
- Using fume hood for experiments producing airborne chemicals;
- Installing necessary firefighting equipment.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplements other measures aimed at avoiding hazards in the laboratory. The PPE acts as a barrier between a chemical hazard and a lab user (Kuespert 18). The protective equipment prevents any direct contact with a harmful chemical in case of a spill. The procedures for implementing the PPE standards are:
- Ensuring every lab user has appropriate personal protective equipment at the point of entering a laboratory and during experiments;
- Making sure that the PPE used is appropriate for each experiment and properly worn;
- Adhering to SOP 3.16 when selecting and giving the PPEs to lab users (Pal 25);
- Ascertaining that every lab user has fully filled and adhered to the Laboratory Chemical Personal Protective Equipment Guidance Form (LCPPEGF) (Ntsefong 33);
- Checking the approval list for different protective types of equipment for eye, face, hand, foot, body, and respiratory protection.
The practical laboratory management plan presented aims at avoiding or minimizing the impacts of different hazards in a lab. The proposed plan explains the administrative, equipment, and procedural controls in addition to protective attire. These controls should adhere to the SOP and OSHA standards.
Dux, John. Handbook of Quality Assurance for the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory. 2nd ed., Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
Kuespert, Daniel. Research Laboratory Safety. Walter De Gruyter Inc, 2016.
Murov, Steven. Experiments in General Chemistry. 6th ed., Cengage Learning, 2014.
Ntsefong, Godswill. Innovative and Efficient Laboratory Management. Xlibris US, 2015.
Pal, Samuel. Handbook of Laboratory Health and Safety Measures. 2nd ed., Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
Zabetakis, Michael. Safety with Cryogenic Fluids. Springer, 2014.