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Promoting Chemical Laboratory Safety and Security in Developing Countries
or even prison sentences may be implemented if leaders do not provide a safe and secure working environment for students and staff.
Accommodating Propriety in Dress and Behavior
All laboratory members should be educated about and kept aware of the need to wear proper clothing and protective equipment. They should have ready access to proper clothing for the laboratory such as lab coats and gloves even if they prefer to wear traditional clothing outside. Feelings and traditional standards of propriety may discourage persons, particularly women, who have been splashed with caustic chemicals or other hazardous materials in the laboratory from immediately removing contaminated clothing to reduce chemical burns and from going to and using emergency safety showers properly. It may be necessary for educational institutions to provide laboratory sessions for female students that are separated in time and possibly location from those for male students, or to specially design personal protective clothing and equipment that can accommodate fitting under or over traditional attire.
Confronting Coworkers or Superiors
Laboratory workers may witness safety or security breaches but be fearful of or apprehensive about confronting coworkers and authorities. These are normal feelings and reactions that should be countered by providing anonymity for informants, if possible, by protecting informants and by preventing reprisals.
Proper handling of such a situation depends heavily on having clear, agreed rules and an objective, fair, well-publicized, and understood strategy for investigating incidents and administering the consequences of breaking or disregarding the rules. The messenger should not be blamed but rather thanked for rendering a valuable service. Please refer to earlier section on protection for those who report incidents.
Looking Out for Coworkers
A person’s sense of survival or concern for the well-being of others can be complicated. Specific rules or strong guidance may be needed for training workers on when and how to help others and one’s self in emergencies, and even more importantly, on when to cooperate with others to prevent accidents and emergencies. All laboratory workers and students should also receive adequate education on the importance of both wearing PPE and training in its proper use; these are critical for compliance with laboratory safety rules.