Misuse of Laboratory Glassware

Misuse of Laboratory Glassware
Common laboratory glassware items
Common laboratory glassware items

It is obvious that you would have been exposed to laboratory glassware during your school days. Pieces of glassware such as beakers, burettes, pipettes, graduated cylinders, conical and round bottom flasks need little introduction. Exposure to advanced analytical instrument systems would have come much later, perhaps in the University days or subsequently in your career as a laboratory chemist.

You could be working in a highly sophisticated instrument laboratory but you would still have to depend on glassware for conducting your analysis. In other words glassware will remain indispensable today and in the near future. How to prevent laboratory glassware breakages explored some common factors and offered preventive tips for avoiding laboratory mishaps and laboratory downtime resulting from glassware breakages.

The current article focuses on an altogether different aspect concerning misuse of laboratory glassware which is often overlooked. We all are aware of such misuse but tend to turn a blind eye due to lack of safety concerns.

Laboratory glassware are not meant for playing games

It is important to understand that laboratory glassware items are pieces of equipment designed specially for laboratory applications such as transferring measured liquid volumes, weighing samples, heating, storage, etc. These should not be used for entertainment purpose such as rolling on the workbench or floor, playing chess or other games. I recall an incident which made me suffer extreme pain in my hand just a day before my university practical exam. I was fiddling with a glass rod when it broke in my hands and a small glass chip got embedded in my thumb.It had to be removed surgically and I had to perform the practical exam next day with a bandaged thumb. Such accidents can happen without prior warning so it is of utmost importance to realize that laboratory glassware is not meant for entertainment.

Laboratory glassware not intended for serving of food and beverages

I have often come across instances when tea or coffee was being prepared and served in laboratory beakers . Obviously there must be celebratory occasions in the laboratory when cold drinks or beer is served around in beakers. This practice goes against principles of good laboratory practice and should be discontinued without even giving a thought. Even if the glassware is washed before serving you cannot be sure if it is completely free of contamination from previously handled chemicals which could have been toxic or corrosive in nature.

Laboratory glassware are not missiles

At times arguments get out of control but you should never get tempted to hurl glassware at others in the laboratory and at same time it is your duty to prevent others from doing so. The contents can be extremely harmful to not only the targeted individual but also to others in his or her vicinity. Additionally it can cause damage or breakage of other items placed on work benches.

Laboratory glassware are not gift items

Laboratory glassware items such as beakers, flasks, tubes, etc should not be removed from labs and gifted to outsiders for use as decoration pieces or for use as flower pots. Due to the hazardous nature of chemicals handled by them they can cause harm to the unsuspecting user.

It is important to keep in mind that laboratory glassware has a specific utility and its use should be restricted to laboratory applications solely. Unintended usage can pose serious hazards to you as well as to others.

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