General and specific safety Rules & instructions reflecting identified risk, should be made available to each staff member and supplemented regularly as appropriate. (e.g. with written material, poster displays, audiovisual material and occasional seminars).
General Safety rules for safe working in accordance with national regulations and SOPs normally include the following requirements:
- safety data sheets should be available to staff before testing is carried out;
- smoking, eating and drinking in the laboratory should be prohibited;
- staff should be familiar with the use of fire-fighting equipment, including fire extinguishers, fire blankets and gas masks;
- staff should wear laboratory coats or other protective clothing, including eye protection;
- special care should be taken, as appropriate, in handling, for example, highly potent, infectious or volatile substances;
- highly toxic and/or genotoxic samples should be handled in a specially designed facility to avoid the risk of contamination;
- all containers of chemicals should be fully labelled and include prominent warnings (e.g. “poison”, “flammable”, “radioactive”) whenever appropriate;
- adequate insulation and spark-proofing should be provided for electrical wiring and equipment, including refrigerators;
- rules on safe handling of cylinders of compressed gases should be observed and staff should be familiar with the relevant colour identification codes;
- staff should be aware of the need to avoid working alone in the laboratory; and
- first-aid materials should be provided and staff instructed in first-aid techniques, emergency care and the use of antidotes.
- Protective clothing should be available, including eye protection, masks and gloves. Safety showers should be installed. Rubber suction bulbs should be used on manual pipettes and siphons. Staff should be instructed in the safe handling of glassware, corrosive reagents and solvents and particularly in the use of safety containers or baskets to avoid spillage from containers. Warnings, precautions and instructions should be given for work with violent, uncontrollable or dangerous reactions when handling specific reagents (e.g. mixing water and acids, or acetone–chloroform and ammonia), flammable products, oxidizing or radioactive agents and especially biologicals such as infectious agents. Peroxide-free solvents should be used. Staff should be aware of methods for the safe disposal of unwanted corrosive or dangerous products by neutralization or deactivation and of the need for safe and complete disposal of mercury and its salts.
Poisonous or hazardous products should be singled out and labelled appropriately, but it should not be taken for granted that all other chemicals and biologicals are safe. Unnecessary contact with reagents, especially solvents and their vapours, should be avoided. The use of known carcinogens and mutagens as reagents should be limited or totally excluded if required by national regulations. Replacement of toxic solvents and reagents by less toxic materials or reduction of their use should always be the aim, particularly when new techniques are developed