why do you never work alone in a chemical laboratory

My mentors used to tell me, Don't work alone in Chemistry lab! The reason is that we all make mistakes. YES, WE ALL! When you make a mistake and start a small fire in the lab, most of the time you will be in a shock and would not know how to react and what is the right thing to do at that moment. But someone near by you -even if he/she is not as smart as you are- can think and act better and save your life! You must have heard about the accident in UCLA chemistry lab few years ago. The under graduate student who was using pyrophoric, t-butyl lithium, made a mistake (not wearing proper lab coat and she was working alone, I believe) and it became a fatal mistake because no one was around when t-butyl lithium spills initiated fire.


If there were a labmate around her at that time, she would be alive by now! Never ever work alone in a Chemistry lab!
Working alone is a bad idea. It s an open invitation to tragedy. The legal consequences can be equally serious. Enforcing this rule means that there is always a second person available to provide immediate assistance in the event of an emergency.


This second person should be knowledgeable about the work being performed and capable of rendering assistance if necessary. Not only should working alone forbidden but no work should be allowed without prior knowledge of a staff member. Experimental procedures should be reviewed prior to their use. This practice helps to insure that significant hazards are identified before the experiments are performed. The National Safety Council s (1121 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143-3201) Research and Development Section has published (June 87) a safety and health information sheet on Off-Hours Laboratory Work.


This safety tip is courtesy of The Laboratory Safety Institute at and Lab Manager Magazine. Dr. James A. Kaufman is the founder and president of The Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) - an international, non-profit center for safety in science and science education. LSI provides workshops, seminars, onsite training programs, lab safety program development consultations, facilities inspections and regulatory compliance assistance. Contact LSI with all your lab safety questions: 800-647-1977 or.

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