General Lab Safety

Being safe in a laboratory is very important.   There are many things that can easily go wrong if the proper precautions are not taken prior to and during work in a laboratory.    The following are the main topics of lab safety.

EMERGENCY Procedures


  •  Be familiar with evacuation plans.

  • Clean up small spills

    only if you are properly equipped and trained to do so. Otherwise, contact EHS&RM Hazmat Section x5487 for proper clean up.

  •  Immediately report all lab accidents.

  •  In case of chemical spill on your skin and clothing, rinse the area with plenty of water.

  •  If the eyes become affected by a chemical, immediately use the eye wash station and continue for 10-15 minutes, or until professional assistance is obtained.

Minor skin burns should be placed under cool running water.


  • Clear lab counter of all unnecessary materials (books, clothing, etc.) prior to beginning   of your work.
  • Lab tables & counter tops should be kept clean & free of unnecessary materials.
  •  Fume hoods are not to be used for the storage of chemicals.
  •  Keep all aisles and walkways in the lab clear to provide a safe walking path and an unobstructed exit.
  •  Do not exceed allowable quantities of chemicals.
  •  Do not block access to emergency equipment & utility controls.
  •  Inspect all equipment before use.
  •  Do not leave experiments unattended.
  •  Keep lab floor dry at all times.
  •  Tag all machinery under repair.
  •  All compressed gas cylinders must be secured and labeled.  Secured with chains or straps.
  • Before disposing a chemical, be sure of the proper procedures. Do not pour it down the sink unless you are sure it is OK to do so. Use a Transfer Form to communicate a pick up from EHS&RM Hazmat Section.
  • If necessary, clean equipment after use to avoid the possibility of contaminating the next person who needs to use it.
  • Return all equipment, chemicals, and personal protective equipment to their designated locations.

UAF Hazard Color Code System

BLUEHealth hazard Store in a secure poison area.

RED - Flammable hazard Store in a flammable liquid storage area.   (Approved flammable storage cabinets.)

YELLOW (yellow) - Reactivity hazard Store separately and away from flammable or combustible materials. WHITE Contact hazard Store in a corrosion proof area.   Note:   Acids and bases should be stored separately.

ORANGE or GREEN - Substances with no rating higher than two in any hazard category. Store in a general chemical storage area.

STRIPEDIncompatible materials of the same color class have stripped labels Proper storage must be individually assessed.  

** Questions regarding Lab Safety should be directed to 474-5413.

Safety Guidelines

Before starting any work in the lab, make it a point to become familiar with the procedures and equipment that are to be used.

  • Inspect all equipment before use.
  • If you don't understand something, ask.
  • Do not operate equipment unless properly trained.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement and talk in the lab.
  • No food or drink in the lab.
  • Do not do dangerous experiments alone.
  • Confine long hair, and be aware of dangling jewelry.
  • Wear all personal protective equipment.
  •  Do not wear contact lens in the lab.
  • Check chemical labels twice to ensure accuracy.
  •  Be aware of hazard classification.
  •  Wash your hands frequently.
  •  Do not wear personal protective equipment outside the lab in common areas.  
  •  Do not smell or taste chemicals.
  •  Never point the open end of a test tube toward yourself or your neighbor.

 Know the location and use of:

  • Safety shower
  • First-aid kit
  • Exit doors
  • Telephones
  • Fire pull station
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

 Good work practices:

  • Never look directly down into a test tube; view contents from the side.
  • Vent apparatus which may discharge toxic chemicals into local fume hoods.
  • Always dispose of chemicals properly.
  • Before leaving the lab, ensure gas lines and water faucets are off.
  • Do not cover the windows of lab doors.
  • Maintain a clear pathway to all the safety equipment.

Fire Prevention

  •  Be aware of ignition sources.

  •  Store flammable liquids in appropriate containers and cabinets.

  •  Do not store incompatible materials together.

  •  Keep all sprinklers clear.   18 inches below must be clear.