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ZIMSEC O Level Biology Notes: Safety in the Laboratory

A: Eye Protection


  • Wear splash goggles all the time.

B: Clothing and Personal Items

  • Closed shoes must be worn during the entire time that you are in the laboratory to protect you from splashes of chemicals, broken glass, and other hazards that may occur in the lab. The shoes must cover your feet without gaps such as open toes.
  • A clean laboratory coat must be worn all the time.
  • Long hair should always be tied back.

C: Handling Chemicals

Safety Goggles

  • Treat all chemicals in the lab as toxic substances.
  • Keep them off your skin and clothes.
  • Due to danger of chemicals entering the mouth or lungs: smoking, drinking and eating are forbidden in the laboratory.
  • Do not taste anything in the laboratory.
  • Do not place your mouth on any chemical equipment.
  • Keep your hands and face clean. Flush any spill on your body with cold water for at least 15 minutes. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before leaving the laboratory.
  • Avoid inhalation of fumes of any kind. To test an odor, fill your lungs with air and cautiously sniff the vapors as you waft (fan) them from the source.
  • Never inhale fumes directly from a chemical substance. All odorous and/or fuming chemicals must be kept in the dispensing hood. Any reaction that emits a fume must be carefully set-up to trap the fumes, or to direct them into the bench-top hoods.
  • Never leave excess or spilled chemicals on equipment (in particular, the handling surface of glassware); wipe clean with a damp towel immediately and dry immediately with another towel.
  • Avoid violent splattering by always pouring concentrated solutions (e.g., acids) slowly INTO water or less concentrated solutions while stirring. Never the reverse.
  • Never leave any reaction unattended.
  • Most organic substances are flammable. Sparks, flames or other ignition sources should be kept out of the laboratory.
  • Heat organics in a sand or water bath, or use an aluminum heating block.

To access more topics go to the O Level Biology Notes page