Hygiene is essential in all workplace environments. It assumes even greater significance in laboratory as both safety and quality of results are in direct relation to standards of personal hygiene. Laboratory safety measures undoubtedly contribute to an accident free environment but good hygiene practices supplement it with higher productivity and health of laboratory workers.
Good housekeeping and laboratory discipline go hand-in-hand to ensure safe working laboratory environment. Good housekeeping cannot be over looked if high safety standards are to be maintained and it includes:
- General cleanliness of laboratory areas such as workbenches, storage areas and utility areas.
- Cleanliness inside and around weighing balances
- Ample free space on workbenches through proper planning and execution of tasks
- Priority on cleaning of laboratory spills
- Adoption of recommended practices for disposal of laboratory waste and samples after analysis
- Alphabetical storage of chemicals is not a recommended practice but instead always keep compatibility of chemicals in mind before storage.
- Laboratory safety wear should be washed regularly and separately from other garments to avoid cross – contamination
- Eating, drinking or smoking should be strictly prohibited in the laboratory
- Do not distract other laboratory workers by making disturbing comments or jokes
- Visitor entry should be restricted and permitted visitors should be made to wear required safety clothing and gear.
- Laboratory facilities should be used only for the intended purposes. Laboratory glassware should never be used for making tea or coffee or consuming cold drinks. This can lead to serious intake of harmful substances
- Use of mobile phones for talking or taking selfies should be strictly prohibited
- Do not insert fingers, pens or other laboratory objects in your mouth, ears or nose
- Do not wear laboratory aprons or other protective clothing outside laboratory areas such as canteens, toilets or common areas. Even laboratory foot wear should be removed when visiting such areas
- Do not work in the laboratory when suffering from colds or other contagious illness.
- Cover all open wounds and abrasions with waterproof dressings
- If gloves are used wash hands first with gloves on and subsequently with water and soap after removal of gloves
- Do not wear shorts, short- sleeve shirts, loose fitting or flowing clothing and jewellery inside the lab. Instead of open toe shoes or sandals wear shoes with protective shoe covers as these serve to prevent laboratory contamination from street dust and also provide safety from hazardous and corrosive materials
- Laboratory refrigerators and ovens should not be used for storing edibles or drinks
- Do not use fume hoods for storage of general laboratory chemicals
As emphasized both laboratory safety and hygiene are inseparable and recommendations often overlap but their objectives are common – to promote laboratory safety, reduction of cross contamination and provide greater reliability on laboratory data.