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DIY Podcast: Lab Safety Expert Videos

Lab Safety Resources

Two students smile as they look into microscopes Lab Safety Home


 


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Lab Safety Audio/Video Clips

Bill McArthur, who was the commander of International Space Station Expedition 12, discusses and demonstrates lab safety equipment and techniques from the station. You can mix and mash these video clips with NASA images and your own narration, original video of your science lab, special effects and transitions. Preview the video and download the clips you want to use in your creative masterpiece.

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Title & Download Links Transcripts
Meet Bill McArthur
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(McArthur) Well, hi. Welcome aboard the space station. I’m Bill McArthur, the Expedition 12 commander and NASA science officer. And you’ve caught me doing a little work setting up for some experiments.
Always Keep Safety in Mind
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(McArthur) For all the work we do, it’s very important to always keep safety in mind because accidents will do two things. One is they’re dangerous to you. Also, they’ll ruin the experiment.
Safety Principles
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(McArthur) There are a couple of important principles that we employ to help ensure safety while we’re up here. And the first one, of course, is we try to prevent accidents to begin with. In any laboratory environment, occasionally you may work with hazardous materials or hazardous instruments, hazardous objects. And so it’s always important to wear appropriate safety equipment like you can see I was wearing as I was working behind the rack. In this case I was wearing eye protection and a dust mask so that as I worked in the equipment, if I kicked up any particles, any dust wouldn’t get in my eyes. I wouldn’t inhale it.
Microgravity Science Glovebox
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(McArthur) You can see the device I’m floating in front of is called the Microgravity Science Glovebox. It also serves an extremely important function to help isolate us from potentially hazardous materials. What we can do is we can set up experiments inside the glovebox. And so now we have the glass front of the glovebox, or the plastic, and that protects us from the materials.
Electricity in the Lab
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(McArthur) Of course, like any laboratory, we use a lot of electricity. In the space station here in the U.S. segment we use 120 volts DC. Woohoo! Let me tell you. That will give you a shock.
Power Strip Safety
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(McArthur) Here in space, because we are dealing with such a high level of direct current -- as I said, 120 volts -- unlike in your home or perhaps in your laboratory, we never connect a piece of electrical equipment to an outlet that has power applied already.

And what you can see here just above my head is a power strip, and every outlet on the power strip has its own switch. And the power strip itself is powered from an outlet over here which has yet another switch.
Electrical Safety
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(McArthur) Before we will actually connect a piece of equipment or disconnect it, we turn its power off. Then we make or break the electrical connection. If we’ve connected an electrical device, the first thing we do is make sure the outlet is off, connect all the cables that are required to go to that piece of equipment. Then we will turn the power on here and then sequentially turn on any equipment that is downstream from the power outlet here. Therefore, we are never actually making a connection into live, electrical power.
Be Aware of Hazards
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(McArthur) We’re very conscious of the various hazards that exist in space or in a ground-based laboratory. You should be very conscious of all these hazards. Always pay attention to them and take steps to make sure that you protect yourself, that you isolate yourself, that you have some type of barrier between yourself and dangerous materials.
Contamination Protection Kit
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(McArthur) This is our little, miniature hazmat kit in a bag. It’s the crew contamination protection kit. Among other things, it has goggles and a dust mask very similar to the ones you saw me wearing earlier. It also has Ziploc® bags. They’re great for us up here and on the ground as well. You can just take any contaminated material and initially put it in a Ziploc bag, and then you’re ready for final disposal.
Chemical-Resistant Gloves
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(McArthur) We also have chemical-resistant gloves. Maybe not as neat as a spacesuit glove, but it’ll do the job.
The Eyewash Kit
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(McArthur) Any of you swimmers out there may recognize these and say, “Hey, those are just swimming goggles.” And you would be absolutely correct. That’s what they were. But what we’ve done is connected a series of hoses to them. And so what we can do is we can allow water to flow first into the uncontaminated eye. It fills up that part of the swim goggle. It goes through another tube to the other half of the swim goggle -- the contaminated eye. And then it flows out into this bag in which we would collect the contaminated water.
Know Your Safety Equipment
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(McArthur) Fortunately, on this mission so far we haven’t had to use any of these items. But first, we have them. Secondly, we know where they are. Lastly, we’ve been trained to use them. So don’t forget laboratory safety. It can be the difference between having a wonderful experiment and having just a very, very unpleasant day.
Follow the Rules
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(McArthur) Follow all the safety rules. Make sure you have some protection between you and hazardous materials, hazardous objects, hazardous equipment. Know what safety equipment that you have. Know how to use it, and follow the safety rules. If you do, you’ll have a wonderful day in science.
Power Strip
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Eyewash Demo
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Page Last Updated: August 20th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Education