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Chemical Safety in Laboratories

 

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Chemical Procurement and Classifications

The PI for any laboratory shall be responsible for the procurement of all lab chemicals.  Employees involved in the receiving of chemicals should be informed about proper handling, storage and disposal procedures. Chemicals should not be accepted without accompanying labels, MSDS and proper packaging. Damaged or leaking containers shall not be accepted for any reason. All chemicals should be dated upon receipt. The PI should always inform employees and students about the proper handling of any new chemicals introduced into the laboratory.

The laboratory PI is responsible for the instruction of all laboratory personnel in the safe use of chemicals. Information regarding the classification and safe use of chemicals can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health & Safety (OSHA) Guide to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) website.

 

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Chemical Transportation and Storage

Carts used for transport should be sturdy and have a substantial rim around the edge. All chemicals should be transported in an appropriate secondary containment vessel.

Important safety rules for the storage of chemicals:

 
  • Store chemicals according to their chemical classification.
 
  • Never store chemicals anywhere other than an approved storage area.
 
  • Store especially hazardous chemicals in a secondary container.
 
  • Never store chemicals in a fume hood.
 
  • Return chemicals to their storage areas at the end of the day
 
  • Store flammable chemicals that should be refrigerated in an approved, explosion-resistant refrigerator that is labeled as such.
 
  • Never stack bottles on top of each other.
 
  • Label all chemical containers with the date of receipt and the date opened.
 
  • Be aware of procedures for transferring chemicals that may be needed for proper dilution or storage.  (for example, never add water to concentrated acid, etc.).

 

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Inventory Control

The security of the laboratory chemical inventory rests with the lab PI. All PIs are required to inventory their chemicals when they initially set up their labs.  Subsequent shipments of chemicals must be dated and the PI shall also conduct an annual inventory of all chemicals on hand.  A copy of this inventory shall be maintained in the laboratory and a copy shall be sent to the chemical stock room, to NS and then to EHS. Additionally, the following principles should be applied in an effort to keep an accurate track of laboratory chemicals.

 
  • Before any work involving hazardous chemicals is performed, turn the hood fan on and make sure it is working.
 
  • Chemicals must be purchased in limited amounts. A six-month supply is preferred.
 
  • An expiration date should be assigned to each chemical container. Expired chemicals will be properly disposed of.
 
  • Chemicals should be examined annually.  During this inspection, chemicals which are beyond their shelf life, show deterioration of the chemical, have questionable labels, are in leaking containers or have corroded caps will be eliminated.

 

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Chemical Fume Hoods

All hazardous laboratory work should be carried out in an appropriate chemical fume hood. All chemical fume hoods should be regularly inspected and certified on an annual basis. Uncertified hoods should not be used.

 
  • Before any work involving hazardous chemicals is performed, turn the hood fan on and make sure it is working.
 
  • Check the inspection sticker to make sure the hood has been inspected within the last year.
 
  • Fume hoods should be used with the sash positioned at 18 inches or less when possible for optimal performance.
 
  • All equipment should be kept at least six inches inside the face of the hood to prevent disruptive airflow patterns.
 
  • No chemicals should be stored in fume hoods (either for use or for disposal).
 
  • Maintain an air space under large equipment by placing on blocks to allow air currents to freely pass under the equipment. This minimizes “dead space” at the hood face and thereby improves overall hood performance.
 
  • Do not use the fume hood as a storage cabinet.  Excessive storage can obstruct airflow and cause areas of low air velocity at the face opening.
 
  • Do not put your face or head inside the hood.
 
  • Minimize sources of cross drafts (open windows, doors, fans, etc.) which may pull contaminated air from the hood.
 
  • Ensure all fume hood users are aware of safety procedures in case of an emergency.

 

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Chemical Disposal​

Hazardous chemicals used in the UHD laboratory will be disposed of in a safe, approved manner consistent with all applicable laws and the UHD Campus Waste Management Program.  Laboratory staff should use the smallest quantity of hazardous substance that is practical in an effort to generate the least amount of hazardous waste. This should include reviewing experimental protocols with the goal of substituting non-hazardous or less hazardous reagents, using micro-scale procedures, and using materials that can be easily neutralized or detoxified. UHD has an approved, underground chemical neutralization/dilution system that is connected to the laboratory sinks. Small quantities of lab chemicals can be flushed down the sinks.  Maintenance of the dilution tank as well as the approved disposal of any leftover chemical waste in the tank is the responsibility of the Director of the Physical Plant.

 

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Last updated 11/13/2019 2:17 AM