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Medical Emergencies in the Laboratory

It is important that you do not attempt any medical treatments with which you are unfamiliar. However, there are certain serious injuries in which time is so important that treatment must be started immediately. The proper aid is outlined below accor

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Immediately provide the minimum necessary first aid to prevent further injury to the victim. If the injury requires more than a band aid (use this as a general rule of thumb), call 911 and request assistance. Medical help will be sent to you immediately. Be prepared to describe accurately the nature of the accident and your location (see front cover for building addresses). Provide first aid within the scope of your training while waiting for professional help to arrive. It is important that you do not attempt any medical treatments with which you are unfamiliar. However, there are certain serious injuries in which time is so important that treatment must be started immediately. The proper aid is outlined below according to the type of injury. Report all injuries to your supervisor/advisor after professional help arrives.

If serious medical attention is required, you are expected to call for help by calling 911.

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Stoppage of Breathing

For stoppage of breathing (e.g. from electrical shock or asphyxiation), the mouth-to-mouth method of resuscitation is far superior to any other known. If the victim is found unconscious on the floor and not breathing, rescue breathing must be started at once, seconds count. Do not waste time looking around for help, yell for help while resuscitating victim.

Severe Bleeding

Severe bleeding can almost always be controlled by firm and direct pressure on the wound with a pad or cloth. The cleaner the cloth, the better; however, in an emergency, a piece of clothing will suffice. In addition:

1. Wrap the injured to avoid shock, and call immediately for medical attention.

2. Raise the bleeding part higher than the rest of the body and continue to apply direct pressure.

3. Keep victim lying down.

4. Never use a tourniquet.

Thermal Burns

1. If the burn is minor, apply ice or cold water.

2. In case of a clothing fire:

a. The victim should drop to the floor and roll. Do NOT run to a safety shower. A fire blanket, if nearby, should be used to smother the flames.

b. After flames are extinguished, deluge the injured under a safety shower, removing any clothing contaminated with chemicals.

c. Keep the water running on the burn for several minutes to remove heat and wash area.

d. Place clean, soaking wet, ice-packed cloths on burned areas, and wrap to avoid shock and exposure.

e. Never use a fire extinguisher on a person with burning clothing.

Chemical Burns

1. For chemical burns or splashes, immediately flush with water.

2. Apply a stream of water while removing any clothing that may have been saturated with the chemical.

3. If the splash is in the eye, flush it gently for at least fifteen minutes with clean water. Wash in a direction away from the other eye. Have aid summoned immediately!

4. If the splash is on the body, flood it with plenty of running water for at least 15 minutes. For large scale exposure have someone call an ambulance (phone 911).

5. A safety shower, hose, or faucet should be used in an emergency.

6. For chemicals spilled over a large area, quickly remove contaminated clothing while using the safety shower; treat as directed under the section thermal burns. No time should be wasted for modesty. Seconds count.

7. If safety goggles are worn during a chemical exposure to the face, leave them on until the surrounding area is thoroughly rinsed; they may be the only thing keeping the chemical out of your eyes.

Traumatic Shock

In cases of traumatic shock, or where the nature of the injury is not clear, keep the victim warm, lying down and quiet. Wait until medical assistance arrives before moving the victim. One should treat all injuries as potential shock situations, as they may turn into one. Some common symptoms of shock are cold and clammy skin, paleness, and deliria.