Environmental Health and Safety
maintains web pages containing information of campus news/alerts, contact info,
emergency info, programs, policies, safety guides, etc..... Please check them out.
All research students in the department are required to attend a two-part training
course in laboratory safety offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Research students using ionizing radiation must attend an additional course.
The content of this document and training is summarized in two local
The information below is intended as a local guide to our department.
We all want everyone to complete their classes/research,
and get meaningful results. More importantly,
we want this do be done in a safe manner.
Why? Because, a safe person/operation does not
endanger himself/herself, colleagues, the public,
equipment, facilities, and the research. More importantly,
a safe person is in control. An injured person is not
capable of control. Hence, unsafe conditions lead to
All students must take a two-part training class, offered by EHS.
Students using ionizing radiation and lasers must take an
additional class. CTSR has an additional class.
The classes are offered in the fall, spring, and summer.
Check colloquia schedule for dates and times.
Check users list for trained students.
To be safe, here are a few general guidelines.
- Laboratory Rights
- You really do not have any rights, except for:
- The right to a safe environment.
- The right to question the actions of others.
- The right to information on potential hazards.
- The use laboratory facilities is a privilege.
- With that comes responsibilities.
- If you work in a common laboratory,
then you have to follow the rules of that facility.
- If you work in the lab of an individual researcher,
then you have to follow the rules of that researcher.
- You always have to obey the rules of the department and college.
- You always have to obey the policies of the university.
- You always have to obey the laws of the county.
- You always have to obey the laws of the state.
- You always have to obey the laws of the nation.
- You always have an obligation to protect
the safety of your fellow humans.
- Clear communication of information is the chief protection
against hazards and the prime reducer of danger situations.
This is one case where "knowledge is power".
- Personal Protection
- Always protect your body, when there
exists the chance of implosion, explosion,
flying objects, noxious chemicals, etc.....
- Eye-protection is required when working with chemicals.
- A face mask can be required in the more extreme situations.
- Gloves are required when working with chemicals,
and they must be the appropriate gloves.
Polyethylene gloves DO NOT
provide proven protection against acid-spills.
Instead, use heavy-duty acid-resistant gloves.
- DO NOT wear gloves in the hallways, since
you may contaminate door-knobs, hand-rails, etc...
- Wear long-sleeves or a lab-coat to protect your exposed arms.
- Shorts and sandals leave you open to exposure of chemicals and heavy objects.
- Do not work alone and late-at-night if you know what
you are doing is dangerous or if you are unsure of
your abilities. You may protect others from danger,
but you are putting yourself in greater danger.
- If you do not understand a "sign" or "label", then
do not proceed.
- General Safety
- Do not block your points of entry or exit.
- Do not clutter the walk-ways.
- Do not leave dangerous objects or situations
- Be careful of cooling water leaks. A "blown cooling line"
can flood the building overnight. Severe electrical-hazards
can occur in a flooded laboratory.
- Pressurized Gas Tanks
- Always move a tanked-gas bottle with the CAP ON.
If you drop a gas-bottle without a cap, then
the valve can "break off". If the tank is fully
pressurized (2500 psi), then the gas will escape
through the broken tip. Most likely, it will
shoot through several cinder-block walls, and
destroy the last laboratory. THIS HAS HAPPENED ON CAMPUS.
- Always keep gas tanks secured to fixed objects.
You would not leave a hand-grenade hanging around,
so do not leave a loose tank by the door and "untied-down".
- Do not use Teflon tape or other sealant on a
gas regulator, they provide no sealing capability
for a "flare-fitting". Infact, they can only
cause leaks, which is dangerous when using
oxygen, hydrogen, etc......
- Never fully open a valve, always "back-off" a bit.
In an accident scenario, you may turn the valve
the wrong way in an attempt to close the valve.
If the valve is fully open, then you might
break the valve-stem or jam it open.
- Never over tighten a valve; this can tear
the seal, and cause leakage.
- Fire Safety
- You must leave the building immediately during a fire alarm.
- Fires do happen on campus, people do get hurt.
- Do not begin any experiment/procedure that you cannot
safely leave alone, incase a fire-alarm is sounded.
- Do not place solvents and combustibles near potential
sources of ignition (hot plates, heat guns, HV supplies).
- Before you use chemicals, plan for
the removal/storage of waste.
- Never buy/mix/prepare more chemicals
than you need, can store, or safely remove.
The "economy of scale" in purchase, may
not apply toward removal.
- Properly label all chemical containers:
- Chemical Compound
- Chemical Formula
- Type of chemical (solvent, acid, base,.....)
- Hazards (flammable, corrosive, etc....)
- Name and Date
- Replace worn labels. Always replace a "bad" label,
because the label may be gone next-time you look.
- Do not store the following in the same cabinets:
- Dry Chemicals and Metals
- A chemical accident or fire between these four
types is MUCH WORSE than among the type, alone.
- Store solvents, acids, and bases in ventilated
- If you actively use your fume-hood, then do not
use it for storage. Always keep a working hood
clear of debris, electrical equipment, used glassware,
- Never pour water on acid, in a container, i.e., beaker.
ALWAYS POUR ACID ON WATER, when diluting the acid.
In this manner, the gases will not be trapped by the water.
- When working with etchants, keep plenty of water around.
Infact, keep the sink running with cold water. If
you spill acid on your arm, then you may not have
the time or strength to turn on the faucet. It pays
to have the water already available.
- When working with etchants, use the appropriate tools.
- Do not use glassware with HF acid.
- Do not use metal tools.
- When working with chemicals, tongs, and gloves you
should be careful of the placement of your hands,
tongs, and samples. If your hands are holding tongs
which hold a sample in a beaker of acid, then
they are vertically pointing down, from your elbows.
DO NOT lift the sample and tongs out, with
your elbows bent and the sample/tongs pointing upwards.
Because, the acid will "run" down the sample, tongs, gloves,
etc..... on to your elbow and arm. Instead, pull
the sample out of the etchant, keeping your elbow
higher than the sample. Rinse the sample/tongs in
several beakers of water (or appropriate dilutant).
Examine the sample, by looking down at it, NOT UP.
- Be careful of hot plates, especially those in fume-hoods.
DO NOT EVER LEAVE A HOTPLATE UNATTENDED, you
are inviting disaster.
- Always cool a hot plate, unplug it, and keep flammable
objects away from it. Never place an object on a hotplate,
unless you plan to heat that object. The same applies
- Radiation Safety
- Radiation is silent and dangerous. You
have a responsibility to NOT KNOWINGLY EXPOSE OTHER PEOPLE.
- If you deal with radiation, then you must
be properly trained and wear a radiation badge.
- In the public facilities, you will not be
the proper person to train another person.
- Always reduce your exposure through time, distance, and shielding.
- Unauthorized changes to radiation shielding and safety devices
will lead to the removal of the abuser.
- Vacuum Systems
- Never vent a vacuum system quickly,
especially if they have glass fixtures
- Be careful of sealed containers in vacuum,
they can explode/implore.
- Electrical Systems
- Do not use multiple extension cords and receptacle boxes.
- Know the location of your power switches, circuit breakers,
- Do not overload a circuit; know your amperages.
- When possible, unplug electronics before troubleshooting them.
- Keep electrical items out of the fume hoods, when not
in use. Hot-plates and stirrers will corrode in
fume hoods. Electrical insulation will dissolve in
fume hoods. You are inviting disaster.
- Do not block the ventilation of power supplies, computers,
- There is no food and drink allowed in
areas which have chemicals, radiation,
or precision equipment.
- Computer Safety
- Pick good passwords, and use them.
- Unique Phrases
- Use numbers and letters
- Use multiple passwords
- No social security numbers or birthdays
- Check for worms and viruses on public machines.
- Check your own disks before/after using on a public machine.
- Secure your machines and data against theft, fire, water damage,
electrical surges/browns, and premature aging.
- A back-up is only as good your ability to restore it.
- Keep all original documentation, disks, manuals, etc.....
- If you do not know the answer to something, then
first think about the situation, and then
ask someone. Think about their advice.
- Always observe the object of your action,
not necessarily the action.
- Do not be paralyzed by fear, but
do not be over-anxious or brazen.
- Some situations call for quick action;
some call for patience.
- Always warn others and your superiors of danger.
- Your superiors may not tell you the truth, or
may not know the truth. Hence, you must take
responsibility for your actions and the actions
The department and college also have some general rules and policies:
- There is no storage of items in the hallways.
- There is no rubbish disposal in the hallways.
- Shipping boxes (cardboard) should be "cut-up"
and placed in the recycle-container in the
- You may not use or take any equipment or
supplies in the common the departmental
facilities, without authorization.
- You and your researcher may not
give authorization/training to others
in the common departmental facilities.
- You may not use or take any equipment or
supplies in the lab of individual researchers,
without the researcher's authorization.
- You and your researcher are responsible for
the purchase, storage, and removal of all
supplies (film, chemicals, metals, etc....).
- You and your researcher must purchase the
keys to rooms to which you have authorized
access. You must lock these rooms, when not
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Finally, do not believe everything that you read.