Lab safety supply gear is always your first line of defense against the physical hazards of laboratory work, no matter whether you’re working in a pharmaceutical, biomedical, or an R&D lab environment. Your personal protective equipment (PPE) for lab work may be less extreme than what’s required for a profession like fire fighting, but it’s no less important.
What Safety Gear Is Necessary in a Lab?
The exact type of lab safety equipment you need depends on the lab work you’re doing. Ideally, safety hazards are removed or controlled at the source. But given that this isn’t always possible, safety managers should consider overall lab safety, and supply their workers with the appropriate must-have protective safety equipment in the following categories, based on the hazards present in each lab:
- Head protection: If your lab presents any danger from falling objects, low doorways, or equipment fixed in low positions, provide your lab workers with hard hats.
- Hearing protection: If a noise source can’t be removed or controlled, the OSHA Noise Standard mandates a hearing conservation program, wherein employers provide workers with earplugs or earmuffs if they’re exposed to a time-weighted average noise level of 85 decibels or higher, over an 8-hour shift.
- Face and eye protection: Depending on the lab environment, your workers may be subject to airborne particulate matter, liquids, or gasses that could seriously injure faces and eyes. Provide your workers with goggles or safety glasses. Respirators or particulate dust masks are necessary if dust, smoke, or fumes are present in the lab.
- Foot and hand protection: Lab workers should be provided with sturdy safety shoes to protect their feet from injury from sharp objects, slips, and chemical spills. Additionally, provide safety gloves appropriate for your specific lab tasks to protect your workers’ hands from scrapes, burns, and cuts.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
More women than before are taking on jobs in the scientific fields. When you’re reviewing the need for safety gear for your lab workers, make certain that your safety supply company has a complete line of safety gear that’s tailored based on anthropometric data of the female body.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there are considerable differences between men and women. These differences must be accounted for in the safety gear that you provide for your female lab workers. You can’t just hand them a set of gear that was intended for a man and believe that you’ve provided them with comparable levels of protection.
Those goggles that are too big for her head? They are going to allow caustic gasses to seep in around an ill-fitting seal and damage her eyes. That baggy lab coat is going to catch on equipment, throwing her off balance and perhaps causing a toxic spill of whatever she was carrying at the time.
Those clunky gloves, designed for a man’s broader palms, are not going to give her a secure grip or the required degree of manual dexterity to safely carry out her tasks. Shoes that are too broad or long for her feet make it harder for her to maintain her balance and avoid slips and falls.
When you don’t supply properly fitting PPE, you risk encouraging your workers to make their own adjustments to their safety gear, until it feels “right.” The trouble with this is that the manufacturer designed and tested the PPE to meet safety level certifications, but only if it’s worn the way it was intended to be worn. If a woman modifies her PPE so that it properly fits her body, it may no longer provide the intended level of protection, putting her at greater risk of injury.
By ensuring that all of your workers have safety gear that fits properly and allows them to perform their daily tasks easily and safely, you’re much more likely to foster their compliance in using the safety gear you provide. Nobody can be expected to perform well if they’re constantly fighting against PPE that fits incorrectly and hinders them from working.
A Safer Way to Cut Lab Bench Paper
Operating budget is always a concern for any business, and labs are no exception. Especially in times when budgets are tight, everyone and everything in a lab must pull its fair share, often doing double duty. This could introduce an element of danger.
There’s a potential hidden cost that you’ve got to consider: the cost of injuries. Working with unsafe tools exposes your lab workers to costly laceration injuries. These injuries could sideline your workers for weeks, or even permanently change their career path, as hand injuries are very difficult and slow to heal.
When there isn’t money available to replace tools as frequently as you might prefer, your workers are likely using dangerously dull tools. That’s where the Slice® line of ceramic scalpels can save your lab some money, as their finger-friendly® blades last up to 11.2 times longer than traditional stainless steel blades.
But there’s another handy tool that can impact how frequently you replace your scalpels or blades: the 00200 Safety Cutter. We know that you often grab your expensive scalpel to cut your lab bench liner. Put down that dangerous scalpel! Watch as our tiny-but-mighty Safety Cutter makes short work of lab bench liner without endangering workers.
While you can easily find the type of safety gear your workers need by looking in a lab safety supply catalog, it’s often best to work directly with a lab supplies manufacturer that can tailor their equipment to your specific needs. They can also provide you with assurances that their lab safety and supply items have been through rigorous testing. By asking the right questions, you can be certain that you have a safety equipment supplier that fully understands and can meet your needs for specialized lab safety supply equipment.