Analytical instruments are capable of producing results with high degree of accuracy and precision. As a consequence analytical techniques are widely superseding the earlier classical methods. However, such instruments are prone to accidents and hazards arising from carelessness in handling them. Apart from hazards breakdowns result in loss of productivity and additional expense in repairs.
The main hazards posed by the electrical instruments are electric shocks, ionizing radiations and burns from hot surfaces. These hazards are discussed here and precautions are suggested to minimize them.
Always be on the lookout for electrical shock safety sign on the instrument panels. Be careful and never touch the surface when the instrument is powered up. Electric shocks can result from any of the factors listed below:
- Insulation of wires can deteriorate over long time use or it can be damaged by rodents.
- Use of higher rating fuses. Such fuses can permit passage of higher currents than rated value.
- Non use of insulating gloves and shoes while working in high tension zones
- Contact with water which is a good conductor of electricity. Always avoid contact with water and maintain humidity inside lab within specified limits.
- Dangling cables and wires pose tripping hazards. Such wires should be properly placed or hinged along the walls
- Never pull out a plug from the socket by pulling the cord. Always hold the plug firmly to remove it from the socket.
- Regularly inspect plugs and wires for damages, loose connections or damage by rodents and replace them without waiting for major mishaps to happen
- Do not overload electrical points with multi-plugs and power strips. Ensure sufficient number of power points keeping in mind future upgrades to existing facilities.
Some instruments may emit harmful UV radiation from light sources. Always inspect flames, plasmas and lamps through protective shields and use protective eye goggles. Some other instruments have inbuilt radioactive sources. Such instruments should be installed only after complying with radiation safety requirements.
Before working on instruments look for hot surface warning signs. It is not possible to visually judge if a surface is at room temperature or at an elevated temperature. Avoid touching such surfaces.
In spite of all the precautions it is important to remember the following two important points:
- Never extinguish electrical fires with water.Make use of carbon dioxide based fire extinguisher.
- Never touch an electrocuted person. Always first disconnect power from the mains before approaching the person and providing first aid.