OBLIGATIONS OF THE TEACHERS AND THE HEAD OF THE INSTITUTION TOWARDS MAINTAINING LABORATORY SAFETY
Safety in laboratory work is the collective responsibility of the Head of the Institution, teachers, lab staff like you and the students. It must be realised that in case any serious accident takes place in a laboratory, the Head of the institution and the teachers will have the responsibility at the first instance to explain the causes. The legal aspects of laboratory accidents are discussed. We have given below some measures to be taken by the Head of the institution and teachers in ensuring safe working conditions in a laboratory.
i) Safety aspects must be taken into account while planning the laboratory buildings, the purchase of equipment, chemicals, etc. Bureau of Indian Standards, Delhi, (earlier known as Indian Standards Institution) has prescribed safety norms through many of its publications like the following:
National Building Code of India (includes safety codes for construction of buildings, fire, electricity, water supply, drainage, gas supply etc.)
Codes of safety for chemical, microbiological and radiochemical laboratories
Code of safety for electrical equipment and mains operated electronic equipment
The guidelines given in these codes and, the regulations mentioned must be followed. The main aspects of these codes and regulations should be made known to the teachers and the laboratory staff through institution level training programme.
ii) Lab building should be maintained in safe condition. Once in a year at least, condition of the building, furniture, fire safety units, electrical connections and appliances, water pipes etc. may be checked. Any repairs must be attended to.
iii) At the time of purchase of gas cylinders (chlorine gas, oxygen gas) etc. the safety instruction sheets must be obtained from the dealer and preserved for use.
iv) The lab staff is to be provided with protective clothing.
v) All laboratory workers must be immunised against tetanus. Additional infection.
vi) Appropriate training must be given to lab staff in
1. handling equipment, chemicals, biological specimens etc.,
2. using gas cylinders and fire fighting equipment,
3. moving load,
4. waste disposal, and
5. administering first aid.
vii) the lab staff must be instructed to prepare a list of phone numbers and addresses of the following for use during emergency:
1. nearby doctors, hospitals and ambulance services
3. Fire Service Authority (Fire Service may also offer help for rescue operations during building collapse, explosion, drowning, gas leakage etc.)
4. electricity supply agency
5. gas supply agency
6. water supply agencies
7. fire fighting equipment dealers
This list should be prominently exhibited in the laboratory.
viii)The lab staff must be instructed to keep records of accidents The records of accidents may be examined once in a year to plan protective measures.