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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Resources  /  Laboratory  /  Lab Manual  /  General Lab Safety

General Lab Safety

Every laboratory is potentially hazardous and all tasks performed in the laboratory involve an element of risk. Even weighing a sample on an electronic balance involves hazards - the balance is powered by 240V mains electricity; the vessel used for weighing may be made of glass; the substance being weighed may be toxic - these hazards must be considered and the risks minimised before any work is carried out (See risk assessment). Many accidents occur because of ignorance or complacency - "I didn't know it was hot/sharp/corrosive/explosive....." or "I've been doing it this way for years and that's never happened before....". If you don't know or are unsure about something - ask someone who does know and do not become complacent about routine tasks - just because you have never spilt acid on your hands before doesn't mean you don't need to wear gloves, there is always a first time.

Many of the sections in this manual will refer to safety issues. Lab users must read and make sure they understand these sections before working in the lab. If you do not understand – ask.

Safety regulations/guidelines are not written to make life difficult; they are there to protect you and the people around you. You have a legal obligation to adhere to safety regulations. If your negligence is the cause of someone else's injury, you are personally liable.