Content that belongs in Safety in Laboratories section (safety/lab)

Hot Plate Safety

Household appliances are not designed to withstand the hazardous materials utilized in a lab nor the processes in which they are utilized. Household hot plates should never be used in a laboratory.

Hot plates are normally used for heating solutions to 100 C or above when steam baths cannot be used. New hot plates should be designed in a way that avoids electrical sparks and other interlock features. Hot/stirrer plates have an additional risk when operators turn on the wrong feature.

Ovens, Dryers, and Washers

Laboratory dryers, ovens, and washers are used for the washing and drying of glassware and plastic and for removing water or other solvents from chemical samples.


Autoclave Safety

Autoclaves are common in research labs on campus and are used to sterilize glassware, lab instrumentation, and solutions. If you are using an autoclave to deactivate biohazardous waste, please contact UVM's Biosafety Officer.

While the controls for different brands of autoclaves may have their own unique characteristics for loading, load sizes, cycle types, and cycle settings, autoclave hazards remain the same.


Bare feet, sandals, and open-toed shoes are not permitted while working in any UVM laboratory because there is often the potential for an exposure to hazardous materials and physical hazards. 

Formaldehyde Program

This page, along with the referenced training course, constitute UVM's program to comply with OSHA's Formaldehyde standard at 29 CFR 1910.1048

Hearing Conservation

Hearing protection must be considered when working in a laboratory or in the field. Follow ANSI and OSHA regulations to ensure proper protection. 

Hearing loss is often ignored because it can happen gradually over a period of time. OSHA requires a hearing conservation program to be in place when workers are exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels (dB) and above. Anyone exposed to excessive noise must wear hearing protection, such as ear plugs or ear muffs.

Lab Coats and Skin Protection

To minimize exposure to hazardous materials, proper clothing and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) should provide reasonably complete coverage of the skin and clothing.  Best practices include wearing a knee-length, long-sleeved, elastic-cuffed laboratory coat while working with hazardous materials.  

A lab coat provides a protective layer and can be easily removed if contaminated or in the event of a lab accident. Reusable lab coats should be cleaned regularly.

Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection is required whenever there is a risk of injury to the eye or face.

It should be worn to protect from:

  • accidental chemical or biological splashes
  • unexpected flying objects or particles (chips, shards) from a nearby machine or hand tool
  • non-ionizing radiation
  • UV lights


Hand Protection

Choosing the appropriate hand protection is an important decision in a laboratory setting. Protective gloves should be worn when handling:

  • hazardous or infectious materials
  • laboratory animals (puncture-resistant gloves may also be required for handling more aggressive animals)
  • chemicals of unknown toxicity
  • corrosive materials
  • rough or sharp-edged objects
  • very hot or very cold materials


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