Lab Safety/Safety Contract

C. Massengale

    An important part of your biology work will take place in the laboratory.  The lab is a safe environment in which to work if some general rules are observed and if the people who work in the lab are informed and careful.  THESE GUIDELINES ARE SPECIFICALLY FOR BIOLOGY.

Read the following safety rules to make sure that you understand each rule.  Ask your teacher about the rules that are unclear to you.  When you are sure that you understand all of the safety rules, sign and date the contract in the space provided.  Signing the contract indicates that you are aware of the rules of the laboratory. 

 You will be allowed to work in the lab only after you have signed this contract, had your parent sign the contract, made a MAP OF THE ROOM INDICATING SAFETY EQUIPMENT AND EMERGENCY EXITS, and have PASSED A SAFETY TEST.  


1.     Conduct yourself in a responsible manner at all times in the laboratory.

2.    FOLLOW ALL WRITTEN AND VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS carefully.  If you do not understand a direction or part of a procedure, ask the instructor before proceeding.

3.    Never work alone.  No student may work in the laboratory without an instructor present.

4.    When first entering a science room, do not touch any equipment, chemicals, or other materials in the laboratory area until you are instructed to do so.

5.    DO NOT EAT FOOD OR DRINK beverages in the laboratory.  Do not use laboratory glassware as containers for food or beverages.


7.    Be prepared for your work in the laboratory.  Read all procedures thoroughly before starting the laboratory experiment.

8.    Never fool around in the laboratory.  Horseplay, practical jokes, and pranks are dangerous and prohibited.

9.    OBSERVE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING PRACTICES.  Work areas should be kept clean and tidy at all times.  Bring only your laboratory instructions, worksheets, and/or reports to the work area.  Other materials (books, purses, backpacks, etc.) should be stored under your chairs or in the classroom area.

10.  Keep aisles clear.  Push your chair under the desk or table.

11.  Know the locations and operating procedures of all safety equipment including the first aid kit, eyewash station, safety shower, fire extinguisher, and fire blanket.  Know where the fire alarm and the exits are located.

12.  Be alert and proceed with caution at all times in the laboratory.  Notify the instructor immediately of any unsafe conditions you observe.

13.  Dispose of all chemical waste properly.  Never mix chemicals in sink drains.  Sinks are to be used only for water and those solutions designated by the instructor.  Solid chemicals, metals, matches, filter paper, and all other insoluble materials are to be disposed of in the proper waste containers, not in the sink.

14.  Labels and equipment instructions must be read carefully before use.  Set up and use prescribed apparatus as directed in the laboratory instructions or by your instructor.

15.  KEEP HANDS AWAY FROM FACE, eyes, mouth, and body while using chemicals or preserved specimens.  Wash your hands with soap and water after performing all experiments.  Clean all work surfaces and apparatus at the end of the experiment.  Return all equipment clean and in working order to the proper storage area.

16.  Experiments must be personally monitored at all times.  You will be assigned a laboratory station at which to work.  Do not wander around the room, distract other students, or interfere with the laboratory experiments of others.

17.  Students are never permitted in the science storage areas or preparation areas unless given permission by the instructor.

18.  Know what to do if there is a fire drill during a laboratory period; containers must be closed, gas valves turned off, and any electrical equipment turned off.

19.  Handle all living organisms used in a laboratory activity in a humane manner.

20. When using knives and other sharp instruments, always carry with the tips and points pointing down and away.  Always cut away from your body.  Never try to catch falling sharp instruments.  Grasp sharp instruments only by the handles.

21.  If you have a medical condition (e.g., allergies, pregnancy, etc.), check with your physician prior to working in lab.




22.  To protect your eyes from possible injury, ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES when working with heat, chemicals or glassware (except microscope work).   Your grade will suffer if you aren’t wearing safety goggles.  Wear glasses rather than contact lenses unless you have permission from the instructor.  Goggles will fit over glasses. 

23.  TIE BACK long hair and loose clothing and REMOVE JEWELRY when you work at the lab station.  ROLL UP LOOSE SLEEVES that might fall into chemicals or become caught on equipment. 

24.  Do not wear open-toed shoes or sandals in the lab when using glassware or chemicals.  Never go barefoot.



25.  Prepare for the experiment by READING ALL OF THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE YOU START THE LAB.  Be sure you understand all directions.  Discuss the procedures with your lab partner or team.  Assign specific tasks to individuals, especially if time is a factor in the procedure.

26.  Before you begin work, make sure that you know how to operate the equipment that will be used in the experiment.


27. KEEP YOUR LAB WORK AREA CLEAR OF ANY MATERIALS that are not needed for performing the experiment.  Texts, notebooks, bookbags, sweaters and other materials should be stored away from the work area.  Push in chairs when not in use and as you leave the lab area.

28.  Handle all equipment as directed.  Note safety precautions in the instructions for your experiments.

29.  Handle all sharp instruments with extreme care.  Remember that they are considered weapons if they go out of the room or are handled in an inappropriate manner. Never try to catch falling sharp instruments.  “Dueling” with probes will net an automatic “0” on a lab and a call home.

30.  Do not stir solutions with a thermometer; use a glass stirring rod.  If a thermometer breaks, inform your teacher at once, and your teacher will clean it up.  Do not touch the mercury from broken mercury thermometers.

31.  Take extreme care not to spill materials in the lab.  Report all spills immediately, and follow your teacher’s directions for cleaning them up.  Keep your lab area neat and clean.

32.  Never use an open flame in Biology lab. Use tongs or a clamp to pick up hot containers.  Test the temperatures of equipment and containers that have been heated by placing the back of your hand near any object before picking it up.  If you can feel heat, the object might be too hot to handle.

33.  Dispose of materials only as directed.  Do not pour chemicals or other solids into a sink or put specimens or their parts into the trash or sink.

34.  After you have completed your work, turn off all equipment and clean your work area.  Return all equipment and materials to the place that you got them. Report any broken or missing equipment.

35.  Keep hands away from your face, eyes, mouth and body while using chemicals or preserved specimens.  Wash your hands before and after each experiment.

36.  Never eat, drink, or chew gum in the lab.  Never eat or drink from lab equipment.

37.  Perform only those experiments authorized by your teacher. Never do an experiment that is not called for in the laboratory procedures or your instructor.

38.  Do not work alone in the lab.  When entering the room, do not touch any equipment, chemicals or other materials in the laboratory area until you are instructed to do so.

39.  Experiments must be personally monitored at all times.  You will be assigned a laboratory station at which to work.  Do not wander around the room, distract other students, or interfere with the laboratory experiments of others.

FIRST AID or EMERGENCIES  spinning_first_aid_box_top_view_md_clr.gif

40.  REPORT ANY ACCIDENT TO YOUR TEACHER IMMEDIATELY, no matter how minor the accident might seem.  Follow your teacher’s recommendations for further treatment.


42.  Report all fires to your teacher at once, and leave the room after turning off electrical equipment.  Do not try to put out a fire by yourself.  If a person’s clothing or hair is on fire, smother the fire with a nonflammable object or use the water faucets.

43.  Know the locations of the fire extinguisher, eyewash, first aid kit, and other safety equipment. Learn how to use each item.

44.  Know the shortest exit route from the lab, from the corridor, and from the building.

45.  Rinse off any chemical spill with lots of water and be sure to tell the teacher.

HANDLING CHEMICALS                 

46.  READ THE LABELS on chemical containers twice.  Many chemicals look alike.  Label and date all containers into which you put materials. (This is very important!!)

47.  Do not touch, taste, or smell chemicals unless directed to by your teacher.  Waft fumes toward your nose by waving your hand over the mouth of the container if directed to smell a chemical.

48.  To avoid the contamination of chemicals, take only what you need, and DO NOT RETURN UNUSED CHEMICALS TO THE BOTTLE.  Dispose of chemicals only as directed by your teacher.

49.  Always pour ACID INTO WATER; never pour water into acid.

50.  Do not use your mouth to draw liquids into a pipette; use a pipette bulb.

51.  Never point the open end of a heated test tube toward yourself or anyone else.

52. Never dispense flammable liquids anywhere near an open flame or source of heat.

53. Never remove chemicals or other materials from the laboratory area.

54. Take great care when transporting acids and other chemicals from one part of the laboratory to another.  Hold them securely and walk carefully.



55.  Do not use cracked, chipped, scored, or badly scratched glassware.

56.  Never handle broken glass with your bare hands.  Tell your teacher, and let your teacher clean up broken glass.

57.  Allow plenty of time for hot glass to cool before touching it.  It shows no visible signs of its temperature, and can cause painful burns.

58.  Learn the names of the equipment and glassware you use so there is no misunderstanding.


59.  Treat all microorganisms as if they were harmful.  Use antiseptic procedures, as directed by your teacher, when working with microbes.  Dispose of microbes as your teacher directs.

60.  Treat living organisms carefully.  Do not cause pain, discomfort, or injury to an organism.  Follow your teacher’s directions when handling animals.  Wash your hands thoroughly after handling animals or their cages.


61.  Place the dissection specimens in the pan.  Do not dissect a handheld specimen. Treat specimens respectfully.

62.  Use dissection tools as directed.  Use the right tool for the job.

63.  Pin specimens before cutting (do not hold) and then cut away from yourself.

64.  Dispose of specimen as directed by the teacher & rinse and dry all dissecting equipment.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY outlet_plug_shock_md_clr.gif

65.  Make sure your hands and area are dry and that plugs, cords, & outlets are in good condition.

66.  Make sure electrical cords do not hang off the lab counter.  


67.  Move from area to area carefully.  Do not make sudden moves. Other students may be endangered.

68.  No horseplay. (Yes, shoving is horseplay.)

69.  No practical jokes or pranks.