Laboratories are equipped with diverse range of glassware such as the beakers, flasks, tubes, volumetric flasks, reagent bottles, petri dishes, absorption cells, measuring cylinders, etc. A chemist cannot think of working in the laboratory without glassware. However, proper care needs to be exercised when making use of glassware as injuries from broken glassware are common.
Safe handling practices for glass apparatus can be adopted by one and all as these are based on basic sense not involving complicated scientific principles.
Proper use of laboratory glassware
Each glassware item in the laboratory has a specific use and should not be used for other purposes. Laboratory glassware for instance should under no condition be used for drinking tea, coffee, cold drinks or juices. Similarly such glassware should not be used for storing or heating edibles. Such storage and use can cause serious health hazards due to contamination or even introduce gross errors in subsequent analysis.
Handling and Care
- After washing dry glassware keep it inverted on wooden or plastic peg racks. Accidental breakage can result if it is allowed to dry on workbenches
- Filtration flasks and reaction flasks should be secured using ring stands to prevent rollover
- Cracked glassware should be disposed off to prevent injuries due to cuts and bruises on subsequent handling
- Recommended cleaning and drying procedures should be adopted after use to prevent contamination from remnants of previous use
- Handle hot glassware in ovens using heat proof mittens
- Glass items like cuvettes should be cleaned with gentle brushes to prevent scratches
- Wear protective goggles to prevent eye injuries due to chemical splashes or broken pieces of glass
- Never use hands directly to pick up broken glassware from floor. Always use broom and cardboard or plastic dustpan and dispose off in special containers marked for the purpose. Smaller pieces should be lifted wearing gloves and several layers of wet filter or/tissue paper. Avoid using cloth towels or mops as tiny particles of glass can remain on such tops.
- Use both hands when carrying volumetric flask and solvent winchesters. One hand should be kept below the vessel for support. It is advisable to use a solvent tray when carrying several such containers.
- Wear shoes with protective covers in the lab to protect injury to feet from broken pieces of glass on the floors
- When washing glassware take precautions to prevent hitting side falls of wash basin or taps
- Do not dry volumetric flask inside hot air ovens with caps intact
- In case of spillages and breakages get the area cordoned off till disposal and cleaning steps are completed
- Do not place glassware such as flasks, burettes or pipettes close to edges of workbench as such items can rollover and break
Injuries from broken glassware can be serious and therefore the suggested precautions can help avert accidental damage and loss of valuable time.