Several factors, many of them unintentional, can affect laboratory safety. Hazards can emerge due to complacency and familiarity, tediousness, or distraction. The requirements and recommendations of this manual and the Laboratory Safety Plan will not fully protect you unless you exercise diligence in your daily work, or at least stop periodically to assess your environment.

Step back and look carefully at your laboratory environment, looking at it as a first-time visitor would. Does it look safe, neat, and orderly? Are chemicals stored properly? Are you and other personnel taking appropriate precautions? Can you see ways to make the lab safer? You are strongly encouraged to conduct at least an annual (and preferably more frequent) assessment of your laboratory’s safety practices. Appendix 1-D at the end of this Chapter is a laboratory self-audit form that can assist with this. The items on this checklist are some of the most frequent causes of preventable laboratory accidents, and frequently cited by EHS during lab inspections. Contact EHS with any special concerns that arise from these self-audits, and repeat audits frequently in order to track whether your lab is making improvements.

Figure 1.1
When you stop to look closely at your lab environment, what potential hazards do you see? Use the self-inspection checklist (Appendix 1-D) for periodic assessments.