Safety Images and Symbols

Safety Images and Symbols

Laboratories often contain highly dangerous chemicals.  Chemicals can be carcinogens, toxins, irritants or corrosives, all of which can cause employees in laboratories major harm.  For that reason, OSHA has limited the amount of employee exposure allowed for about 400 substances.  OSHA further requires that certain laboratory safety protocols be followed, that an occupational exposure standard be provided, and that a chemical hygiene plan is available.  With all of these rules surrounding laboratories and the high number of non-native speakers working in labs, it is necessary to employ laboratory safety shorthand: safety symbols.  We will take a look at some of the free, standard laboratory safety symbols available.

•  Eyewash Symbol:  The eyewash symbol shows an eye in the top right corner, a first aid symbol (a plus sign) in the top right, and a shower symbol in the lower left.  This symbol would be placed near the eyewash station for easy identification in an emergency.  All employees should also be aware of the location of the station at the start of employment.

•  Safety Shower Symbol:  This symbols depicts a person standing underneath a shower  on the left side with a first aid symbol in the top right.  The safety shower symbols should also be posted near the safety shower in an easily identifiable and known location.

•  First Aid Sign:  The standard plus sign is a key safety symbol for the laboratory workplace.  Hang yours conspicuously near your first aid kits.

•  Defibrillator Symbol:  The heart with a lightening bolt on the left with a first aid plus sign in the top right indicate the location of a defibrillator.

•  Fire Blanket Safety Sign:  This symbol shows a person seated on the ground with fire around the legs and another person approaching with a fire blanket.  It should be placed near the fire blanket in a previously identified location.

•  Radiation Symbol:  This round sign depicts six triangles of alternating yellow and black with a black circle in the middle.  The easily identifiable sign should be placed near all areas in which radiation is prevalent.  Employees should also be aware of radiation locations and radiation safety.

•  Biohazard Symbol:  This symbol is an elaborate mix of three interconnected, oblong circles.  Another circle is placed in the middle of the three-circle triangle, and a simple circle with three equidistant lines is cut out of the three-circle triangle.  This elaborate symbol should be placed on or near any biohazards.

•  Toxic Symbol:  The skull and crossbones symbol should be placed conspicuously on all toxic chemicals or materials.

Even though laboratories present many dangers, labs can become or remain safe workplaces if the proper safety procedures are followed.  The addition of some safety symbols to your laboratory can make your lab a safer place to work.  Symbols can never replace safe practices and new-hire introductions to all lab safety station locations, but in an emergency, these signs can help injured workers easily identify safety stations and hazardous materials.

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