Anyone who has worked in a laboratory knows the importance of lab equipment. Without the proper lab supplies any laboratory is little more than a room full of benches. A well-equipped lab includes both working and safety equipment. What about Lab Safety? You cannot work in a lab without putting safety first and foremost. The typical laboratory environment includes both strong chemicals and high temperatures. Safety concerns include: Fire Safety: Fire is always a hazard in any environment, and chemical fires can often worse because they don't always respond to water-based fire extinguishers. Make sure you have chemical extinguishers easily available to every station.
Chemical Safety: Many labs use corrosive chemicals that can be very harmful to the human body. Every lab not only needs eye wash stations in case something gets in behind your safety goggles but also materials to clean up harmful spills safely. This includes absorbent materials such as diatomaceous earth which can neutralize many harmful chemicals.
Equipment Safety: Always make sure you know exactly how to use a device before turning it on. Also inspect all laboratory glassware before use and discard any with chips or cracks.
Laboratory Equipment: Very few labs have exactly the same needs for lab supplies and laboratory equipment. Some need different tools, while others need different chemicals.
There are some categories of equipment that all laboratories need:
Sterilization: Labs that work with biological samples have to use sterile tools and glassware. Sterilization equipment like autoclaves help prevent contamination and the potential spread of disease. Temperature: Many chemical reactions are controlled by temperature. Laboratory ovens and chillers can not only provide the precise temperature you need, but also maintain that temperature as long as necessary for the reaction to complete. Analysis: Analytical equipment can range from something as simple as a PH testing strip to something as complex as a spectrometer. There are oxygen meters and air sample kits; some labs also need centrifuges to separate out different components from various samples.
Setting Up a Laboratory
When you set up a laboratory you need more than just a collection of flasks, burners, and beakers. You also need to make sure that the space is properly configured for laboratory use. This means you need clear space around all your fire sprinklers, as well as paths to the exits. Laboratory furniture has to be both clean and non-reactive so that you can work safely with harsh chemicals. Mark the locations of the exits and any first aid equipment including eye wash stations. Store all chemicals safely, and lock the more reactive ones away. Taking time to set up the lab properly first reduces the chance of problems later.