Safety in work place and safety of the society is our major concern. Creating safe environment for carrying out research activities and maintaining safe environment around us is our responsibility. It requires proper safety measures and appropriate precautions in laboratories.
- Clean working habit.
- Immediate action for spilling reagents.
- Hot materials such as autoclaved media and glassware, corrosive acids, organic solvents etc should be transported using a tray or trolley depending on the amount and weight.
- Never store heavy items or hazardous substances on high shelves.
- Use proper stand for Gas cylinder or liquid nitrogen tank. Always use a cylinder trolley to transport cylinders.
- Eating, chewing and drinking, and application of cosmetics in laboratory working areas are strictly forbidden. Food and drinks should not be stored in refrigerators.
- Avoid touching the mouth or eyes while working.
- Do not lick labels.
- Never pipette by mouth.
- Don’t ignore to minor injury like small cuts and burns. Viruses, bacteria, fungi and harmful chemicals can enter your body through unprotected wounds.
- Do not attempt to handle heavy or awkward loads on your own without the use of appropriate mechanical aids.
- Pregnant women should not be exposed to hazardous substances, radiations or undertake hazardous activities.
- Talk to the supervisor if you are uncertain of the safety of a material or protocol.
- Never work alone in the lab, especially in the night and on holidays.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Wear lab coat, goggles and use gloves while handling hazardous materials.
- An appropriate mask/respiratory protection gear must be worn when handling chemicals such as SDS or when working with infectious agents that are transmitted through air.
- Suitable safety spectacles or a face shield must be worn when carrying out procedures which involve a risk of splash or impact by harmful materials or risk of exposure to UV radiation.
- Don’t use mobile phone while working in the lab, especially while you’re working in the hood, handling human/animal tissues or doing experiments with hazardous, toxic chemicals and radioactivity. Do not touch door handles, elevator buttons or phones with gloved hands.
Equipment and apparatus
- Do read the operation manual before using equipment. Do not operate machines that you are not familiar with.
- Never leave instruments running unattended.
- Never try to repair any equipment. Immediately report to the concerned people.
- Ensure that all safety equipment such as radiation monitors, fire extinguishers, microbiological safety cabinets, fume cupboards are in working condition.
- You need to take appropriate precautions before embarking on a specific work and these depend on the materials you handle. Talk to your supervisor about the risks involved and the ways to minimize them. Use appropriate containment facility and follow the safety regulations.
Human tissues and body fluids
- Take proper precaution while handling clinical specimens as they may contain pathogenic viruses, bacteria or fungi.
- Never let them come into direct contact with skin. Cuts or even invisible abrasions are an easy way into the blood stream. Take care not to handle them without wearing gloves of appropriate grade.
- Working with human blood is required to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
All work involving genetic manipulations of microorganisms, plants and animals should be carried out as per the regulations of Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India and should be approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC).
- In case of microorganisms, the pathogenicity of the organism is extremely important for the risk assessment and subsequent categorization.
- The host must be evaluated to determine that it is not pathogenic.
- The microorganisms have been categorized based on infectivity towards humans into four groups out of which the first group is that of non- pathogens (Table 2).
- This categorization is generally applicable only for the assessment of containment. Specific measures is required for working with the specific group of containment to ensure that the organism do not infect the laboratory peoples and the society around.
Table: Categorization of microorganisms based on pathogenicity
|Hazard Group 1
|Organisms that are most unlikely to cause human disease
|Hazard Group 2
|Organisms capable of causing human disease and which may be a hazard to laboratory workers, but are unlikely to spread to the community. Laboratory exposure rarely produces infection and effective prophylaxis or effective treatment is usually available
|Hazard Group 3
|Organisms that may cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to laboratory workers. They may present a risk of spread to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available
|Hazard Group 4
|Organisms that cause severe human disease and are a serious hazard to laboratory workers. They may present a high risk of spread to the community, and there is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment
- Consider all chemicals potentially hazardous. Strictly avoid the contact of the chemicals with mouth, skin or eyes.
- A fume cupboard must always be used for work involving toxic, fuming, or unpleasant smelling chemicals.
- Immediate report of any spillage to your supervisor.
- Don’t neutralise acid with alkali or vice versa. Contaminated clothing must be removed immediately and the skin flushed with water for fifteen minutes. Decontaminate the area using a mild detergent and water.
- In case of volatile, flammable material, ventilate the area, don’t operate electric switches.
- For skin contact, immediately wash with soap or mild detergent. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes immediately if necessary.
- For eyes, immediately flush with water for at least 15 minutes (lifting upper and lower eyelids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If inhaled, move to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
- In case of ingestion, seek medical attention immediately.
- Take proper precautions while moving containers of liquid nitrogen.
- Always handle liquid nitrogen in well ventilated area to avoid displacement of oxygen from air.
- Always protect your face with a face shield. Always wear protective cryo gloves. Filling a container, or inserting objects into liquid nitrogen, should always be done slowly, in order to minimise boiling and splashing. Always use plastic vials in preference to glass.
- Never touch liquid nitrogen or materials frozen in it with bare hands. Use forceps to withdraw objects immersed in the liquid.
- Vials withdrawn from the liquid phase may shatter explosively and should be placed in a secondary container to prevent dissemination of materials.
- Experiments involving radioactivity should be handled only in the room specified for the purpose.
- NIT Durgapur facility is a type II category. Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the facility.
- Every person who wishes to use radioactive substances must register with the Radiation Safety Officer.
- Purchase of all radioactive biomolecules is done through the RSO. Once the material is received, it is stored under lock and key in a deep-freezer.The issuance of radioactive molecules to the user should be recorded.
- Ultraviolet radiation has relatively low penetrating power and hence affects only the eyes and skin.
- Gross overexposure to UV can cause severe ‘sunburn’ and may even cause skin cancer.
- Early effects on the eye include inflammation of the surface conjunctiva and cornea. In some cases of the damage to the cornea becomes irreversible.
- While using trans-illuminators and UV torches, use vinyl gloves, UV-opaque goggles and screens to prevent exposure. Extreme care must be taken to avoid accidental exposure of other persons.
- Always be careful while using instruments generating high temperatures.
- Bunsen burner in the biosafety hood, hot plate, incubator, hot air oven, microwave oven is all potential sources of fire in the lab. Switch them off if you want to attend to something else.
- Learn how to use the fire extinguisher that is placed outside the lab.
- Use colored bins and plastic bags (labelled to indicate biohazard) to collect wastes resulting from experiments.
- The wastes generated in the lab (except radioactive waste which is treated differently) should be kept in a separate specific colored bin. It does not leak, spill or blow away and is protected against scavenging by people or animals. It needs decontamination before disposal.
- Hypodermic needles should be burned with a syringe destroyer.
- No one is really safe in a work area that contains one careless worker.
- If you think that your colleagues are careless – explain the dangers to
- If this does not help, do not hesitate to bring the matter to the attention of your supervisor. Discuss safety openly with your colleagues.A safe laboratory is a nice place to be in!