Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is an exposure hazard in laboratories that needs to be adequately addressed. Equipment interlocks, safety shields, appropriate work practices, and personal protective equipment can prevent exposure to UV sources when used properly.
Skin and eyes need to be protected from sources of UV radiation to prevent ‘sunburn’ and damage to the cornea. Exposure resulting in injury can occur in only a few seconds. Both acute and chronic injuries and illnesses can result from exposure to UV. Some pieces of equipment that house UV sources are equipped with interlocks or safety shields to prevent exposure. In these cases, work practices must prevent override of the interlock system and users must know to take the equipment out of service if the interlock is not working properly. Safety glasses and face shields used to prevent exposure to UV must be rated for UV protection.
The importance of using appropriate UV protective safety glasses and face shields should be included in new employee and annual safety trainings. UV protective face shields should be left by the source for easy access by all users, and all users must know how to distinguish the UV face shield from face shields that do not provide UV protection.
Know the UV radiation sources in your labs and confirm that proper shielding is available and in use.