Laboratory Safety Policy
Many of the reagents (chemicals) and some of the equipment in a biology laboratory are potentially dangerous. Following rules of laboratory safety and using common sense throughout the course are important to the enhancement of a student's laboratory experience. The following safety rules apply to all Department of Biology laboratory areas.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles during exercises in which glassware and solutions are heated, or during exercises in which dangerous fumes may be present, creating a possible hazard to eyes or contact lenses.
  • Assume that all reagents are poisonous and act accordingly. Read the labels on reagent containers for safety precautions, and understand the nature of the chemical that you are using. Stopper or cap all reagent bottles when not in use. If you should get any reagent in your mouth, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and immediately inform the laboratory instructor. If reagents come into contact with your skin or eyes, wash the area immediately with water and immediately inform the laboratory instructor.
  • Exercise great caution when using heat, especially when heating chemicals. Do not leave a Bunsen burner or other flame source unattended. Do not light a Bunsen burner near flammable materials. Do not move a lit Bunsen burner. Keep long hair and loose clothing restricted and well away from any flame. Turn the gas valve off when the Bunsen burner is not in use. Use proper ventilation and hoods when instructed.
  • DO NOT
    • taste or ingest any reagents.
    • eat, drink, or smoke in the laboratory.
    • carry reagent bottles around the room.
    • pipette anything by mouth.
    • put chemicals in the sink or discard them in the trash unless you are instructed to do so.
    • pour chemicals back into containers.
    • operate any laboratory equipment until you have been instructed in its use.
    • engage in horseplay, pranks or other acts of mischief or disrespect for others.
    • perform unauthorized experiments.
    • leave test tube stoppers in place when heating test tubes.
  • DO
    • keep your work area neat, clean, and organized.
    • ask your instructor for assistance in cleaning up broken glassware and/or spills.
    • handle hot glassware or labware with a test tube clamp or tongs.
    • use extra care when working with scalpels, knives, glass tubing or other sharp-edged objects.
    • wear clothing that, if damaged, would not be a serious loss, or use the provided aprons or laboratory coats, since some chemicals may damage fabrics.
    • wear shoes as protection against broken glass or spillage.
    • become familiar with the experiments you will be doing before coming to the laboratory. Completely follow the procedures set forth by the laboratory instructor.
    • know the location of emergency equipment, such as a first aid kit, eyewash bottle, fire extinguisher, switch for showers, fire blanket, sand bucket, and telephone (9-911). Report all accidents to your laboratory instructor immediately.
    • discard needles, razor blades, scalpel blades and other such items only in "Sharps" containers.
    • discard cracked or broken microscope slides and other glass only in the broken glass containers.
    • report any condition that appears unsafe or hazardous to the laboratory instructor.
    • clean your work area and glassware and wash your hands before leaving the laboratory.