Big things come from UAB’s research labs: We’ve learned that stem cell-derived heart muscle cells could be used in heart-attack repair and meal-timing strategies can lower appetite and improve fat-burning.
But the best work takes place when researchers adhere to best practices for lab safety, such as wearing the right gear and labeling materials properly, undergoing appropriate training, knowing the rules on lab visitors and materials disposal and staying calm in the case of emergencies.
UAB’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has myriad resources to promote lab safety, from safety and policy manuals to extensive training opportunities and downloadable safety signs. If you work in a lab, follow these six steps to partner with EHS to stay safe and do great work.
Wear the appropriate gear.
Lab safety gear, such as gloves, goggles, coats and gowns, are an employee’s most hands-on line of defense against potentially dangerous materials or processes often used in labs.
According to UAB’s biosafety and chemical safety manuals
, gloves must be worn in anticipation of hand contact with hazardous chemicals, blood or infectious or potentially infectious materials. Also, safety goggles must be provided in every laboratory in which spills or splashes of chemicals or potentially infectious materials may occur, and they should be worn when necessary, along with disposable or reusable laboratory clothing, such as coats or gowns.
Stay up to date on training.
UAB offers substantial training to help employees embrace best practices for their labs and learn ways to stay safe while working and conducting research. Employees who work in labs are required to undergo training both to fulfill regulatory requirements and to prove understanding of proper practices. EHS
offers training on everything from hazard communications to medical waste management and radiation safety.
Log in to the EHS Training Decision Tree
to review the training you need.
Stick to the rules for having lab visitors.
UAB has special policies on visitors in labs, both for minors
and adults. For example, visitors 18 or younger are prohibited from entering certain labs, animal activity areas and any areas in which work with radioactive materials or radiation — such as X-rays — or acute toxins is underway. In most cases, enrollment forms, physician clearances and consent forms
must be signed and submitted to UAB by a parent or legal guardian. Read the entire policy
Adult visitors must complete a consent form
requesting clearance to access a lab and an enrollment form
that enables EHS to review work exposures and medical history to ensure all workers in a lab, volunteer or employee, have a safe, healthy work environment.
Label your workspace properly.
Labeling potentially dangerous items or areas in your workplace ensures everyone knows to use materials and equipment in the safest possible way. EHS offers a variety of downloadable signs and sticker templates
for use in labs, from generic biohazard and emergency eye wash station signs to labels designating nanomaterials and cancer hazards.
Dispose of all materials appropriately.
Disposing of all hazardous waste materials properly ensures physical safety of lab workers and the environment. Learn to dispose of waste correctly
on the EHS website and in safety training courses. Some non-hazardous materials, such as pipette tip boxes
, can be recycled through UAB Sustainability
Memorize your emergency procedures.
Even when all precautions are taken in a lab, accidents can happen. Understanding the steps to take in an emergency can be the difference between danger and safety. EHS safety manuals and policies
dictate ways to respond to hazardous spills, fire or personal injury requiring medical treatment.
Once resolved, many types of emergencies must be reported to EHS at 934-2487 or by email to email@example.com
. Visit the EHS website
for more information.