Safety Procedures

Lab safety rules help create a safe environment in which to work and learn.

Read the Flinn Scientific Safety Contract for Students for detailed laboratory safety considerations. This is important information to remember in order to keep you, your instructor(s), and your fellow students safe while working in a science laboratory.

Safety Information

Why should you care about safety anyway?

Safety rules are established to protect everyone from accidents or injuries. They are usually written as a result of an accident or injury that happened to someone.

Example 1: Why can't I wear my sandals in the lab?

image of feet with chemical burns from wearing flip-flops


This student did not have on proper shoes while using chemicals in the lab. The accident resulted in second degree chemical burns to the feet.




Source: Kerry's Feet, The Consumerist, Flickr


Example 2:

man on ladder in pool using power tools


Yes . . . This is a REAL picture! Can you list the safety rules and symbols he probably missed on his safety quiz?

In your notes, list the safety violations you see in the picture above.





Source: Safety Ladder in Pool, Orange County Register

Safety Rules

Lab safety rules can be different depending on which area of science you are studying.  Here is a list of some of the different rules that apply to different areas of science.

General Safety Rules

  • Follow all instructions!
  • Never perform activities without the approval and supervision of the teacher.
  • Absolutely no horseplay!
  • Do not eat or drink in the laboratory.
  • Keep work areas clean and free of papers.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. No open-toed shoes or loose clothing.

Glassware Safety

  • Do not use chipped or broken glassware. Never handle broken glassware with your bare hands. Hot and cold glass looks the same!
  • Use tongs or clamps to handle heated glassware.
  • Never point a test tube toward yourself or another person
  • Keep work areas clean and free of papers.

Animal and Plant Safety

  • Do not perform experiments that cause harm or pain to animals.
  • Inform your teacher of any allergies to plants, molds or animals before doing an activity.
  • Wash your hands after handling animals, animal parts, plants, plant parts or soil.

Using Sharp Instruments

  • Handle sharp instruments with care.
  • Never cut material towards you; cut away from you.

Heating and Fire Safety

  • Keep all combustible materials away from flames.
  • Do not heat substances in a closed container.
  • Use an oven mitt to pick up a container that has been heated. 

First Aid

  • Report all accidents to your teacher, no matter how small or minor you think it is.
  • Know where these are located: First-Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher, Fire Blanket, Eye Wash Station, and Emergency Shower.

After the Experiment

  • Clean up your work area.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances.
  • Dispose of wastes as instructed by your teacher.
  • Wash your hands after every experiment.

Chemical Safety

  • Do not directly inhale chemicals. Waft them gently under your nose.
  • Never touch, taste, or smell chemicals unless a teacher tells you to.
  • Use only the chemicals needed. Keep all 8 containers closed when not being used.
  • Dispose of chemical as instructed by your teacher.
  • When mixing acids and bases, always pour the acid into the water. Do not pour water into an acid.
  • Wash chemical spills with plenty of water.
  • Keep all containers closed when not being used.


Safety Symbols and Labels

Directions: This is a brief overview of some of the most common safety symbols and labels that you might be asked to interpret. Drag and drop the correct label that matches with the safety symbol and meaning.

Images used for the exercise above as they appear, top to bottom:
Biohazard symbol,
Flammable symbol, Warning Signs Direct
Poison symbol, Wordpress
Dangerous for the environment symbol, Warning Signs Direct
NFPA label, Compliance Signs
Sharp objects symbol, Science with Sandy
Eye protection required symbol,
Corrosive materials symbol,
Hand protection required symbol,
>Hazardous fumes symbol, Science with Sandy
High voltage warning sign,

Lesson Review

Below is an illustration of students working in a science lab. Notice that each student has been labeled with a letter from the alphabet.

In your notes:

  1. List the unsafe lab behaviors you can identify in this picture. Explain why that behavior would be considered unsafe. Use the letter of the alphabet that corresponds with the student(s) that are exhibiting unsafe behavior.
  2. List the safe lab behaviors you can identify in this picture. Explain why that behavior would be considered safe. Use the letter of the alphabet that corresponds with the student(s) that are exhibiting safe behavior.

Image of Classroom with Safe and Unsafe Lab Practices



View unsafe lab behaviors or practices.


View safe lab behaviors or practices.