Undergraduate Program in Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences, Lehigh University

Basic safety rules for the undergraduate biology laboratory

Everyone in a biology laboratory must wear protective eyewear — safety goggles or safety glasses. Anyone not wearing proper eye protection in the lab may be subject to disciplinary action by the faculty member in charge of the laboratory.
Be prepared before entering the laboratory. Read and reread all lab procedures to identify possible hazards. If you are not certain about how to perform an operation safely, ask your supervisor for help.
Safety-approved lab coats must be worn in the lab. Appropriate clothing must be worn in the lab. In particular, long pants and a shirt with short sleeves (or something equivalent) should be worn. The shirt or blouse must cover the midriff area such that no skin is exposed, and the shoulders must be covered. Long sleeves are acceptable as long as they are not loose or floppy. Any loose clothing must be restrained in a suitable manner. Sandals or open toed shoes are not allowed. Gym shoes make good lab footwear.
Eating, drinking, and smoking are not permitted in any laboratory. Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the building.
Contact lenses are not permitted in any biology laboratory.
Long hair should be tied back.
Never work in the laboratory alone.
Never pipet any liquid by mouth. Use a pipet bulb or pipetting device instead.
Do not smell or taste any chemical.
Take care when handling glassware. Some glass items (e.g., pipets) tend to roll off bench tops.
All broken or cracked glass should be disposed of in well marked and sealed containers (i.e. cardboard boxes) separate from the solid waste baskets to prevent injury.
Familiarize yourself with the location of safety equipment (including fire extinguishers, safety showers, eye washes, and first-aid kits), as well as evacuation routes.
Wash your hands often when performing lab work, and wash them thoroughly upon leaving the lab.
Be aware of what your neighbor is doing. If his/her actions indicate confusion or ignorance, inform your supervisor.
Flammable liquids (ether, acetone, etc.) must not be heated in an open container or used in a room where an open flame is burning. It is best to use these types of reagents under the hood.
Read the reagent bottle - TWICE! Make sure you have selected the correct chemical or solution. Never put unused reagent back in the bottle – dispose of it properly according to the Lehigh University waste disposal policies.
Water cooling hoses must be securely fastened. Have a knowledgeable person inspect such a setup before beginning an experiment.
Keep your assigned specific laboratory space neat and clean. Label all chemicals and solutions in your lab space. All drawers under lab benches should be kept closed when working in the lab.
Do not bring children or pet animals into the laboratory.
Turn off instruments when the lab is finished.

In case of an injury

All injuries, no matter how small, must be reported. A written accident report must be filed within 24 hours.
Notify the lab supervisor immediately or, if the lab supervisor is not immediately available, notify a substitute responsible authority within the Department of Biological Sciences.
The lab supervisor will notify the proper personnel, the injured person will be transported to the health center or emergency room, and the injury will be examined and properly treated.
If you get a burning sensation on your skin or in your eyes, report to the health center or a physician, and explain your symptoms as well as its possible connection to your lab work.
Burning of the eyes should be treated by flushing with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. It is necessary to hold open the eyelid during the flushing process.
Burning of the skin should be treated by extensive washing with soap and water.
All chemical spills, glassware breakage, and fires must be reported to your supervisor. Chemical spills and fires require a written report within 24 hours.
If there is an extensive chemical spill on a person, use the safety shower. Remove all contaminated clothing. There is no room for embarrassment in emergency situations. It could be the difference between life and death.
If your clothes are on fire, roll on the floor. Don't run to the fire blanket (located near the exit of each lab) or the shower.


Bottom Photo

Won't you help invest in our undergraduate research efforts??

Click here to make your gift! Be sure to designate "Biological Sciences" as the recipient!

Biological Sciences
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone: 610-758-3680
Fax: 610-758-4004
Email: inbios@lehigh.edu