Laboratory Safety Checklists & PDF Reports

Identify and report laboratory safety issues immediately with mobile-ready checklists

Published 9 Jul 2022

What is a Laboratory Safety Checklist?

A laboratory safety checklist, or lab safety checklist, is utilized by lab supervisors and safety officers to identify and minimize chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards present in laboratory facilities at schools and hospitals, among others. It helps ensure that the laboratory complies with environmental standards to prevent overexposure to hazardous chemicals, injuries and respiratory-related illnesses or fatalities.

What is Laboratory Safety?

Laboratory safety, or lab safety, aims to prevent laboratory risks and hazards to protect students and staff from hazardous chemical exposure. It is implemented to avoid incidents such as fire, explosions, biohazards and more. Laboratory safety is important as it helps:

  • prevent toxic contamination;
  • secure the property and equipment from damages; and
  • manage an organized and safe laboratory environment.

This article features:

Types of Laboratory Safety Hazards

For clinical, industrial, and academic laboratory personnel, the laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), here are the different types of hazards workers can encounter while in laboratories:

  • Chemical Hazards

    Laboratory chemicals like formaldehyde can include cancer-causing agents (carcinogens), toxins (e.g., those affecting the liver, kidney, and nervous system), irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, as well as agents that act on the blood system or damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes. Air contaminants such as  toluene, xylene, and acrylamide require even more specific hazard communication (HAZCOM) and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

  • Biological Hazards

    Many laboratory workers encounter daily exposure to biological hazards such as blood and body fluids, culture specimens, body tissue and cadavers, and laboratory animals, as well as other workers. These federally regulated biological agents (e.g., viruses, bacteria, fungi, and prions) and toxins can result in but is not limited to infectious bloodborne pathogens, zoonotic diseases, foodborne diseases, Legionnaires’ Disease, and respiratory problems from molds.

  • Physical Hazards

    Some of the common physical hazards that they may encounter include the following: ergonomic, ionizing radiation, non-ionizing radiation and noise hazards. Physical hazards as repetitive movements in the laboratory usually occur during routine laboratory procedures such as pipetting, working at microscopes, and operating microtomes. Moreover, exposure to continuous noise may lead to stress-related symptoms such reduced efficiency and decreased productivity, decreased concentration in the workplace, and increased errors in laboratory work.

  • Safety Hazards

    Laboratory personnel should be properly trained to use autoclaves and sterilizers, centrifuges, compressed gasses, and cryogens and dry ice, as well as be able to recognize and remove potential safety hazards like electric shock and electrocutions, small bench-top fires, and slips, trips, and falls.

Overlooked Laboratory Guidelines

Safety issues often arise and go unnoticed due to lack of protocol, faulty implementation, or oversight guidelines. Most of the time employees tend to overlook simple guides that can lead to possible incidents or bigger issues. You can find below the commonly overlooked safety laboratory guidelines:

  • Dress code safety

    Wearing appropriate PPE is one of the basic requirements when working inside the laboratory. All employees must be informed of the proper dress codes to eliminate any risks of chemical contact. Employees must ensure all equipment including goggles, face shields, safety gloves, body, and respiratory protection are in good condition before entering the laboratory.

  • Laboratory waste disposal

    Hazardous wastes are classified based on their physical or chemical properties. Commonly, inappropriate disposal can cause an acute or immediate effect on employees’ health and safety. Enforcing proper waste management can eliminate potential hazards, including environmental pollution, pathogenic diseases, and chemical reactions.

  • Ergonomic safety

    Repetitive awkward postures can cause discomfort to employees that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Proper training on ergonomics safety can help employees maximize their laboratory efficiency and productivity.

  • Proper labels

    Labels are important elements of laboratory safety. They help in identifying chemicals, its substance, and the hazards associated with it. A proper label should have the name of the substance, its concentration, the date it was received, and the name of the person responsible for it.

  • Record of an incident

    Reporting an incident is essential to raise the organization’s awareness about the things that can go wrong so that corrective and preventative actions can be taken promptly. Keeping a record of an incident can also help both employees and business owners to have evidence in case of an accident to support their insurance claims.

4 Essential Laboratory Housekeeping and Maintenance Tips

OSHA has reinforced rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for workers and other people involved. The following tips can help in maintaining a safe laboratory to protect employees from chemical exposures and unexpected incidents.

  • Enforce laboratory standards

    All employees must undergo proper induction and training about laboratory standards, emergency procedures, and other policies to keep them informed about the hazards in the workplace. Monitoring employees’ permissible exposure limits (PELs) protects employees from possible harm including respiratory ailments and physical injuries.

  • Keep it clean

    It is paramount to maintain laboratory cleanliness throughout the operation to secure the health and safety of employees and the property. Keep the laboratory space unobstructed and clean all spills immediately to avoid accidents.

  • Calibrate equipment

    Keep the functionality, quality, and accuracy of measuring equipment to avoid disrupting the entire experiments. Conducting regular equipment calibration helps the organization prevent accidents and damage that can lead to legal action and profit loss.

  • Remove and replace damaged items

    Maintain equipment in peak condition to prevent production hitch. Immediately report any damaged equipment either for replacement or removal to avoid unnecessary incidents and equipment malfunction.

Mobile-ready Lab Safety Software for Hassle-free Laboratory Safety Inspections

The laboratory environment exposes numerous hazards to students and staff. Conducting regular lab safety inspections help reduce risks. Traditionally, inspectors use pen and paper in performing lab safety inspection and it’s burdensome and consumes a lot of time to document their reports.

Avoid this hassle with iAuditor by SafetyCulture, a cloud inspection software and app used by labs and universities worldwide to improve safety and prevent incidents from occurring. With iAuditor you can:

  • Capture photo evidence, annotate, and attach detailed notes of laboratory damages or repair needs
  • Spot issues and immediately assign corrective actions to other teams within the organization
  • Generate laboratory inspection reports in real-time anywhere, anytime even if you’re offline. It will automatically sync your data once you gain access online
  • Access and share laboratory checklist with other team members
  • Send/receive notifications for scheduled lab maintenance checks
  • Securely recorded laboratory inspections in the cloud.

Get started with this collection of daily laboratory checklists you can download for free and modify for your lab requirements.

Jona Tarlengco - SafetyCulture Staff Writer

SafetyCulture Content Specialist

Jona Tarlengco

Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.