Safety Services


Mobile Devices in Laboratories

Mobile phones, tablets and other portable devices have become a part of our daily lives but restrictions are in place on their use in hazardous areas. Always follow the local rules for your workspace.

Scientist using mobile phone

5 reasons to restrict use of personal devices in laboratories


Laboratory operations require individuals to concentrate fully, for example when completing calculations, making dilutions, setting up equipment or handling hazardous materials. Even small distractions can lead to accidents. Mobile conversations, viewing videos, playing music, browsing or taking photos in laboratories can draw attention away from the task in hand and lead to serious incidents.

Risk of contamination

Imagine a situation where you receive a call on your mobile phone, you answer the call without taking off your gloves but they could be contaminated. The contaminated mobile phone is now a risk to you and to all those who may handle it once you take it out of the laboratory, including your friends and family. 

Disturbance due to mobile signals

Mobile phones and other devices can also be a carrier of harmful viruses and bacteria. Using them in certain settings can result in contamination of sterile working areas, for example in tissue culture and microbiological laboratories.

Modern laboratory instruments are operated by electronic signal commands. In cases where the frequencies of signals correspond to the mobile phase electromagnetic signal, there can be interference which can lead to distortions. Mobile phones and other devices should not be used in the vicinity of such instruments.

Danger of fire or explosion

Keep in mind that highly flammable solvents with low flashpoints are sometimes used in laboratories, so you should avoid use of mobile phones in the vicinity of such chemicals. There have been recorded cases of mobile phone fires due to spontaneous combustion of batteries. Such accidents can prove disastrous in laboratories, particularly where flammable materials are present.

Security of laboratory data

Laboratories engaged in critical research projects lay down strict restrictions on mobile use. This is necessary as cameras can be used to take unauthorised pictures of sensitive documents or facilities.

Last updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2020