Workplace Safety Guides

   Fires in Labs


Fire is one the most dangerous hazards in a lab.

Ignitable and explosive materials, if they are not handled properly, are a major cause of fires. To prevent fires it is imperative that you know the correct procedures for handling and storing these materials.

In the event a fire does start, you must know what to do. Learn how to activate your fire alarm system and be sure you know proper reporting procedures. Also familiarize yourself with the location of all fire extinguishers so that you can get to one as quickly as possible should it become necessary. The fire blanket is an important piece of personal equipment. If a person's clothing catches on fire you must be able to quickly locate the fire blanket and know how to use it.

Hazardous materials are not the only possible cause of fires in the lab. Electrical equipment, wiring, and switches are also potential sources of danger. Make sure that all electrical devices are in proper working order. Regular maintenance of equipment and proper reporting of wiring or switch problems will help keep the prospects of a lab fire to a minimum.

It is also critical that you know what atmospheres created within the lab constitute fire hazards. Fumes and gases may not be easily detectible when they are so common. But if they are ignitable or explosive they can cause a serious situation. Always be sure the atmosphere in the lab is safe before operating electrical equipment.

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