Don't Get Burned!
Research laboratories are challenging places to work safely. This month the Safety Guys alert you to a potential significant radiation hazard present in the workplace: UV. UV is short for ultraviolet light. And most of us remember from high school science class that UV represents a small band on the electromagnetic spectrum and that the sun is our largest source of UV. Perhaps many of us work with UV daily and are well versed in the science of electromagnetic radiation.
According to the Health Physics Society: “Accidental UV overexposure can injure unaware victims due to the fact UV is invisible and does not produce an immediate reaction… Reported UV accident scenarios often involve work near UV sources with protective coverings removed, cracked, or fallen off. Depending on the intensity of the UV source and length of exposure, an accident victim may end up with a lost-time injury even though he or she was totally unaware of the hazardous condition.”
Access to rooms with open-source transilluminators should be controlled and posted with a warning sign indicating that face and other skin protection is needed to enter when a transilluminator is in use. The protection required is standard laboratory apparel and includes a fully buttoned lab coat, gloves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. While working with UV radiation sources, lab workers must be careful to prevent gaps in clothing that will expose the skin, such as around the neck and wrists. In addition to the standard lab attire, a polycarbonate face shield labeled for UV protection (as opposed to just glasses/goggles) should be worn to protect the eyes and face. It is not uncommon for lab workers to receive facial burns in the areas not covered by the goggles or glasses.
Click here to read more about UV safety in the lab.