Lessons Learned: Recent Injuries From Research Laboratories Involving Broken Glass Pipettes

A common task in research laboratories is aspiration of solution through a vacuum line system. The solution is aspirated via a pipette connected to rubber tubing, then collected into a side arm flask for later treatment and disposal.

One hazard posed by this task involves fitting or removing pipettes to the end of rubber tubing. There is a high risk of injury to your hands if the pipette breaks. Recently, several injuries were reported to Occupational Injury Management involving cuts due to broken glass pipettes when removing from rubber tubing.

Below is a summary of the types of control measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk of injury, in order of most effective to least effective.

Substitution or elimination is most effective since the hazard is either replaced with something less hazardous or eliminated entirely. In the case of aspirating solutions, substituting the use of glass pipettes with plastic pipettes would greatly reduce the likelihood of cuts/lacerations while aspirating. When evaluating hazards in a task and the risk posed to individuals performing this task, keep the hierarchy of controls in mind.

As a reminder, it is your responsibility to promptly report accidents and injuries.

Undergraduate students performing research activities in the laboratory must promptly notify their supervisor and contact Emory University Student Health Services if there is an accident, incident or near-miss. Here is the link to Student Health Services: http://studenthealth.emory.edu/hs/about/patient_portal.html

Employees who are injured on the job must promptly notify their supervisor and report to Employee Health according to Emory University Policy 4.93 Workplace Health and Safety.

Additional information can be found at the Emory University Accident/Injury Reporting webpage: http://ehso.emory.edu/accident/index.html

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