Published September 17, 2020
During these difficult times, protecting ourselves from COVID-19 has been on everyone’s mind. We wear face coverings, maintain six feet of distance from our colleagues, and wash or sanitize our hands often. However, two recent eye injuries caused by chemical splashes in Washington University research labs remind us that protecting ourselves from laboratory hazards remains as important as ever. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has provided the following recommendations to reduce the risk of eye injuries and improve best practices in research spaces:
- Consider the safety implications caused by changes in operation, including increased potential for working alone, rushing during shortened work hours, and working at unusual times.
- Assess and select personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the hazards in the lab. Protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, goggles) is required at all times while working with or near hazardous materials. Prescription eyeglasses are not a substitute for protective eyewear.
- When there is potential for contamination by potentially hazardous chemicals or biological materials, a disposable mask should be used and disposed of prior to departing the laboratory.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Call Protective Services (314-362-HELP (4357)) on the School of Medicine Campus or Washington University Police Department (314-935-5555) on the Danforth Campus in the event of a chemical exposure.
EH&S can assist in the selection of proper PPE. Contact us at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can reach us at (314) 362-6816 during normal business hours (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). You can also visit the Lessons Learned section on our website for more information on a recent eye exposure incident.