Laboratory employees must consider safety training, attire, and hygiene when entering a laboratory environment. However, laboratory management must also adhere to certain standards to provide a safe environment for employees. Although an eyewash station, first-aid kit, and proper chemical storage may seem obvious to the seasoned laboratory manager, furniture within the lab must also keep the individual, potential hazards, and agency guidelines in mind. Through advancements in technology and government guidelines of laboratory safety, accessibility to safe laboratory furniture is possible. Here are 4 safety tips to keep in mind when choosing furniture for your lab.
1. Flame Resistant Furniture
One of the biggest hazards in any lab is the possibility of fire. Proper labeling and storage of flammable chemicals is the first step to reducing this risk. The next step is to ensure that furniture near flammables is flame resistant. In the event a fire is started in the laboratory, you want to help reduce the spread of the fire by using furniture with flame-retardants and fire resistant materials. This offers employees time to seek help and will keep the fire confined to a smaller area.
2. Easily Cleaned, Non-absorbent Furniture
Another common hazard in laboratories is chemical spills. Furniture that is made with absorbent material is difficult to clean and may pose a risk to the lab member through contact with skin or inhalation. Many laboratory chairs are now made with polyurethane, vinyl, or other non-absorbent materials making clean-up from spills easy and safe.
3. Mobility of Furniture
Whether it is a chair, stool, or bench, you have to determine if you want your furniture to be mobile or stay in place. A chair, for example, may be cumbersome to move if it does not have wheels, whereas, a 200 lb centrifuge will be unstable on a mobile bench top or table. Remember to keep functionality and safety in mind when purchasing furniture with or without wheels.
4. Ergonomically Friendly Furniture
Lastly, physical hazards also pose a risk to the employee, especially in the laboratory industry, where repetitive motions are frequent. Laboratory members may sit for long periods of time analyzing data or pipetting samples, so effective ergonomic furniture can help reduce back and neck strain. Many companies now offer ergonomically friendly chairs, with adjustable seats and backs, as well as standing desks to reduce sitting for too long.
Laboratory furniture options may seem overwhelming, especially when there are many regulations to consider; however, by keeping these tips in mind and recognizing the hazards in your own lab, you will be able to make informed decisions about the right furniture for your laboratory.