4 Common Laboratory Accidents and What to Do if You Are Injured

Working in a laboratory can expose workers to many risks including heat burns, chemical burns, cuts, and inhaling dangerous fumes.

A laboratory setting poses serious risks to workers and leaves them susceptible to workplace injuries from handling toxic substances, continuous exposure to noise, poor posture, and electrical hazards.

Research by Laboratory State Institute indicates that around 32% of lab personnel have been in an accident in the lab. What’s worse is 25% of laboratory researchers lack sufficient laboratory safety training. These factors make it necessary to discuss common accidents they are likely to encounter when working in the lab and how to avoid them.

female worker in a lab

Heat Burns

Burns are among the most common workplace injuries. This is because most lab experiments require heat, mostly from open flames and hot surfaces to run. Unfortunately, interacting with these heat sources and hot objects without protective gear can result in serious burns. The severity of your burns could range from first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns, depending on the extent of your injuries.

Fortunately, you can easily escape the above heat-related burn injuries by wearing protective clothing, using proper tools such as tongs when handling heated objects, and limiting direct contact with hot surfaces.

Chemical Burns

When a chemical spill lands on your skin, it eats away at the tissue surface, leaving you with deep wounds, which later become scars. Things can get worse when a chemical spill enters your eye.

The best way to protect against chemical spillage in the lab is to wear gloves and goggles. Also, measure chemicals carefully and put them in labeled containers. Additionally, handle all chemicals carefully and avoid hurried movements as they increase spillage chances.

Cuts and Scrapes

Sharp objects are very common in laboratories. Laboratory personnel often use razor blades and other sharp objects to dissect specimens and conduct other functions. Unfortunately, when such sharp objects fall, they shatter into tiny pieces and can hurt you in the process. To minimize cut and scrape injuries, carefully dispose of sharp objects and thoroughly clean work surfaces.

Inhalation

Some lab experiments release dangerous fumes into the atmosphere. This can cause respiratory issues among lab workers. It’s worse where the chemical fumes are undetectable, and you only get to know of their effects when you start showing symptoms such as vomiting or dizziness.

To avoid inhaling dangerous gases, ensure there’s proper ventilation in the lab. You can also purchase a multi-gas detector to help you know when the air has contaminated gases.

Is My Employer Responsible for My Laboratory Accident?

While you are responsible for following lab protocols and exercising proper safety measures, your employer also needs to ensure that the laboratory meets OSHA guidelines.

OSHA mandates all employers to provide safe working conditions to their employees. Therefore, the absence of warning signs and failure to provide the employees with protective gear can hold your employer responsible for any injuries you may suffer in the workplace.

Regardless of who was at fault, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured while working in a laboratory. We highly recommend you speak with an experienced St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

Contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffman

If you have been injured while working in a lab in Missouri, give us a call 24/7 for a free case evaluation. We have over 30 years of experience protecting the rights of injured workers and can help ensure you do not settle for less than you are legally entitled to.

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Updated: September 9, 2021