Practicing Laboratory Safety
UTPA Department of Chemistry: LABORATORY SAFETY POLICY
Students are required to be covered from wrist to ankles. This means one of the following:
- a lab coat that extends from the wrist to 10 inches below the bench top and long pants
- an apron, long sleeved shirt, and long pants
- an extra garment (such as a heavy, oversized, long sleeved shirt) that extends from the wrist to 10 inches below the bench top and long pants.
Everyone is required to wear goggles or protective eyewear at all times when experiments are being conducted in the lab. Prescription lenses without side shields are not considered safety glasses. Safety glasses must have side shields.
Everyone is required to wear closed-toed shoes at all times when experiments are being conducted in the lab. Sandals and flip-flops are not allowed.
No one is allowed to bring food or drinks into the lab.
Chewing gum is not allowed in the lab.
Students are required to tie back loose or long hair.
Students violating any item(s) 1 through 5 will be sent to the Chemistry Secretary’s office where their names and student identification numbers will be recorded and kept on file.
If the student’s name appears three (3) times on the list described in item 6 above, the student will be given a grade of DP if the student is passing, and a DF if the student currently has a failing grade. Students will check out at this time.
Students are required to observe cleanliness of the work area at all times. This includes their personal workspace, sinks, and the area in the back of the lab.
At the beginning of the semester, students will sign a document that declares understanding of the safety policies and consequences of policy violations. A signature is considered an agreement to abide by the policies and accept the consequences of violation of said policies.
Know where the emergency equipment is in the laboratory.
- Fire extinguisher
- Eye wash
- First aid box
- Safety shower
Think about the experiment you are going to perform.
Look at the chemicals you will use and make sure that you know the hazards of each. If you are not familiar with them, read the Material Safety Data Sheet. How to access these sheets is indicated in a later section.
Think about the hazards of the steps in your experiment. Should it be set up in the fume hood?
Good Practices in the Laboratory
- Always wear eye protection.
- Wear a lab coat.
- Wear appropriate gloves when necessary.
- Wear covered shoes, not sandals.
- Use a face shield or work behind the fume hood if there is a risk of an explosive reaction.
- Do not eat, drink or store food in the lab.
- Never pipette by mouth.
- Long hair and loose clothing should be confined with rubber bands.
- Wash hands before leaving the laboratory.
- Know the hazards of the chemical before using it.
- Never work alone.
Handling Spills of Chemicals
Spill kits are available in all storerooms.They consist of a plastic pail containing goggles, a pair of rubber gloves and a bottle of Spill Mix. The Spill Mix is a mixture of equal weights of sodium carbonate (to neutralize any acid present), clay cat litter (sodium bentonite, to absorb any liquid) and dry sand (to moderate any reaction). On the side of the pail there is a detailed procedure for handling spills. This is also given below.
Procedures to follow if a hazardous chemical is spilled
- Assess the hazard.
- Get help and seal off the area.
- If the chemical has contacted anyone's skin, get that person to water immediately and wash the affected area.
- Cover liquid spills with Spill Mix (available in all storerooms) until all liquid is absorbed.
- As necessary, protect yourself from fumes or contact with the chemical.
- Scoop the residue into a plastic pail.
- Place the pail in a fume hood.
- Depending on the chemical spilled, dispose of the residue appropriately.
- For acids and bases, add water to the pail, test the pH, neutralize if necessary and pour the supernatant liquid into the drain.
- For flammable liquids, allow to evaporate in the fume hood.
- For solids, package in a plastic container, label clearly with the name of the chemical spilled and take to the storeroom, WB for disposal.
Disposing of Waste Chemicals
- Organic liquids should be poured into the red waste containers.
- Do not pour any organic solvents into the drain.
- Waste solids should be packaged and labeled for disposal.
- Do not throw any chemical waste into garbage containers either in the lab or in the hallways.
- Place broken glass in the yellow garbage containers in the center hallways.
- Do not place any chemical or other type of waste in these containers.
- Chemicals should be removed from the glass before placing it in the yellow bin.