Lab Safety When Using a UV Cell

Hi everyone!  We’re back with another great article for you.  This time we’ll be covering general lab safety when using a UV Cell, aka a UV cuvette. 

Now a lot of people can be careless.  So proper lab safety can save your health and in some cases, your life.  We’re just going to go over a few basics to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

Each lab has its own risks to one’s health and we must keep in mind that our health and safety is partially in the hands of our peers.  Also keep in mind that you can correct other people’s errors by following the procedures below.

Always Wear Gloves

Ayyyy! Don't forget those goggles!

Ayyyy! Don't forget those goggles!

When handling a UV Cell or any other type of glassware, gloves are mandatory.  Your hands are covered with oils that will be transmitted to the optical surfaces of the cuvette and this can distort your measurements.

Also, wearing gloves is critical when handling chemicals and reagents.  Some chemicals used in a lab can have some nasty effects on your skin.  No matter how careful you are or how simple an experiment may seem, you need to wear gloves.  Putting on a pair of gloves takes about 10 seconds, but the peace of mind it brings is well worth the effort. 

We like to use nitrile gloves here.  Keep in mind that certain gloves won’t protect you against everything.  Our nitrile gloves are pretty good, but they won’t protect our hands from chloroform.  So make sure you get the proper gloves for the chemicals you are using.

A friend of mine always has gloves on while in the lab.  People think he is a bit over cautious and he is always taken aback when he sees most other people not wearing any gloves when working with common organic solvents, handling glassware, etc.

Wearing Safety Goggles

Here is something I hated doing in chemistry class, wearing safety goggles.  They were big, not comfortable and of course not stylish at all (at least back in my day).  The only one who looks cool in those lame goggles is the Fonz!

However I am glad that I used them because there were incidents were they served their purpose and I’m grateful that I took the precaution and had them on.

So no matter how much of a nerd they make you look like, just go ahead and wear them whenever you are in the lab.  Keep in mind anyone can launch a UV cell at you at any moment, so you’d best be protected!  But seriously, it can happen…

Keep Your Work Bench Clean

Watch out!!

Watch out!!

A UV cell is a very fragile piece of laboratory equipment and must be kept 100% clean or else your measurements will not be accurate.  Having a clean work area will ensure your cuvettes do not become contaminated. 

Be sure to clean up a spills immediately and dispose of them in the proper places.  One of the worst things is when someone forgets to clean up a spill and someone accidentally puts a UV cell down on it.  Now we have to clean up the spill and the cuvette! 

Wear a Lab Coat

Ah, lab coats.  Nothing says “Hey, I’m a scientist,” like a lab coat.  Besides making you look really smart and official, lab coats have an alternative purpose as well.  First of all they protect your skin and clothing in case anything spills or splashes on it.  In addition, it is much easier to take off than regular clothing if something gets on it.  Lastly many lab coats are fire and heat resistant.

Clean a UV Cell and Other Glassware When Finished

One thing we hear from a lot of people is that they spend a lot of time cleaning their glassware.  And what I mean is that they clean them before they use them because they don’t trust that the last person who used them cleaned them properly.   It is a good practice to do so, but it can take a lot of valuable time.  So let’s make sure that you clean those UV cells, flasks, beakers, etc. as soon as you are done with them.

Just as a last thought, it’s a great idea to wear the proper lab gear anytime you’re in the lab.  Even if you think you’ll be there for only a short time, you never know if one of your colleagues will ask for your help or if there is an accident you will be ready to help right away.

All people who work in labs are intelligent people, but even the best of us can make mistakes. 

Here’s to your success!!

The FireflySci team