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Handling Laboratory Glassware

Broken glassware causes more laboratory accidents than any other hazard. Because it is so fragile, glassware can easily fracture if it is bumped, dropped or too much pressure is applied to it. Some glassware accidents don't require much more than a Band-Aid, while others can result in a loss of blood and the need for medical attention. The threat of contamination from the materials in a broken container can also be a serious problem. Our training products on "Safe Handling of Laboratory Glassware" discuss the nature of various types of glassware, and the problems it can cause, as well as the need for employees to use and maintain laboratory glassware safely.

LAB GLASSWARE HANDLING TIPS:

  • Glassware is designed for a specific purpose. It should only be used for that purpose. A makeshift apparatus may be unstable and could lead to accidents and injuries.
  • When selecting glassware, determine the compatibility of the glassware with the chemicals or process. Some chemicals react with glass or cause damage (etch) glass.
  • If your process involves temperature or pressure changes, ensure the glassware can withstand the changes.
  • Inspect glassware before working with it. Inspect it for flaws and If defects are discovered, the glass should be removed from service. Scratches in glass can grow to cracks later on.
  • Dispose of flawed glassware if repairs are not possible.
  • Safe Handling and Storage Proper handling of glassware can reduce the risk of injury and accident.
  • Never carry a flask by its neck.
  • Never carry a beaker by its side. Always use two hands carrying any glassware (position one hand under the glass for support.
  • Appropriate gloves should be worn when there is a risk of breakage (e.g. inserting a glass rod), chemical contamination, or thermal hazard. When handling hot or cold glassware, always wear insulated gloves.
  • Avoid physical stresses to the glassware. Where necessary, stabilize it by using clamps and platforms to relieve pressure.

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