Darkrooms are generally safe environments and with the use of hypoallergenic chemicals many of the risks associated with darkroom usage have been significantly reduced.
Occupational health and safety is not only about safe practice but also about professional practice and conduct.
Here are some points to keep in mind when working in the darkroom
- Make sure the ventillation system is on when you begin any session in the darkroom. ( Ventillation and safe lights are the two switches below the main power for the overhead lights).
- Make sure that the safe lights are on and the main lights are off before you open any paper in the darkroom.
- Make sure that no light is coming through the light trap (your paper will fog if any stray light enters the darkroom). It’s generally a good idea to also make sure that the door to the adjoining classroom is also closed.
- Do not leave any unexposed paper in the darkroom if there is any possibility of exposure to light.
- Avoid leaving anything lying around on the floor or benches that you could bump into or trip over.
- The heads of the enlargers will become hot if left on for an extended period of time. This can cause minor burns if contacted, so don’t handle the enlarger by the head if you suspect that it has been on for a long time.
- Remember to turn off all power points when you leave the darkroom.
- Clean up undiluted chemical spills promptly – use plenty of water and wear protective gloves. Chemical spills on clothing will stain so be careful.
- Use tongs to transfer paper from one tray to another during processing. Avoid contamination by removing paper approximately 10 sec before the recommended time to allow chemicals to drain from the paper to the tray.
- Read the manufacturers instructions relating to the use of chemicals and treatment for contact with skin and contamination of clothing. Remember; that although photgraphic chemicals are not dangerous, misuse can be potentially harmful.
- If you get any chemicals in your eyes, wash them thoroughly in running water and let your teacher know. It’s always advisable to follow up with a medical checkup just to be on the safe side. Your particular body chemistry and makeup may produce results outside the normal range of responses.
- Chemicals can enter the body via contact, inhalation and ingestion so don’t eat or drink in the darkroom as precipitates usually sit low in the air where you might traditionally hold food or drink in your hands when not eating or drinking.
- No smoking in the darkroom
- Phones should be switched off so that the screen is inactive and not emitting light
- Wash you hands with warm soapy water at the end of each session in the darkroom.
- If at any stage you feel light headed or dizzy, leave the darkroom and get some fresh air. Stay out for at least 5 minutes before returning to work.
- Only authorised persons are to be in the darkroom. This means only enrolled students and staff.