Laboratory Safety Guidelines

The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology offers these suggestions for improving laboratory safety. We believe that having an understanding of inherent hazards and learning how to be safe should be an integral and important parts of the education process.

We want to insure safe practices in our laboratories and have adopted the following guidelines. They will be consistently enforced. Non-compliance will result in suspension from the laboratory.


Personal Safety

  • Know the location of the nearest telephone.
    • Emergency Numbers Include:
    • Emergency 911
    • Police (Public Safety) – non emergency (815) 753-1212
    • Environmental Health and Safety (815) 753-0404
  • Horseplay or other acts of carelessness are prohibited.
  • Perform no unauthorized experiments, tasks or job and perform given experiments, tasks or job only according to directions.
  • Never work in a laboratory alone or at least without another person within easy call.
  • Smoking is not allowed in any indoor area.
  • Wear safety glasses or face shields when working with hazardous materials and/or equipment.
  • Wear gloves when using any hazardous or toxic agent. They should be removed before leaving the lab, using telephones, opening refrigerators, or entering common areas.
  • Clothing: When handling dangerous substances, wear gloves, laboratory coats, and safety shield or glasses. Shorts and sandals should not be worn in the lab. Shoes are required when working near machinery.
  • Do not use any equipment unless you are trained and approved as a user by your Professor or Instructor.
  • Pregnant women should take special care with exposure to certain chemicals, which can be harmful to fetal development. Consult the Material Safety Data Sheet, Professor, Instructor, or Environmental Health and Safety at (815) 753-0404 for further information or contact your physician.
  • Wash hands before leaving the lab and before eating.
  • Consumption of food or beverages in the laboratory is forbidden. Food may not be stored in refrigerators located in a laboratory.
  • Tie back medium length and long hair when working near flames or entangling equipment.
  • All accidents, no matter how minor, should be reported to the faculty/staff member supervising the laboratory or, if unavailable, Public Safety at (815) 753-1212 or 911 if an Emergency.
  • Know the location of all safety equipment (e.g. eyewash, fire extinguisher, fire blanket, safety showers, spill kit) and how to use them.
  • Incident and Hazard Report Forms are also available through Environmental Health and Safety. Submitted reports will help alert Environmental Health and Safety to hazards on campus or unsafe work practices, and determine the frequency of accidents and/or injuries.

General Laboratory Safety

  • Keep aisles clear.
  • Maintain unobstructed access to all exits, fire extinguishers, electrical panels, emergency showers, and eyewashes.
  • Do not use corridors for storage or work areas.
  • If leaving a lab unattended, turn off all ignition sources and lock the doors.
  • Do not store heavy items above table height. Any overhead storage of supplies on top of cabinets should be limited to lightweight items only. Also, remember that a 36" diameter area around all fire sprinkler heads must be kept clear at all times.
  • Spills should be cleaned up immediately.
  • Be careful when lifting heavy objects. Lift comfortably, avoid unnecessary bending, twisting, reaching out, excessive weights, lift gradually and keep in good physical shape.

Electrical Safety

  • Electrical equipment must be GFI-protected (i.e. "grounded") when used near any water source. If water or fluid is spilled in or around electrical equipment, FIRST shut off circuit breaker, then unplug the equipment before cleaning up the spill.
  • Maintain a 36" unobstructed access to all electrical panels.
  • Avoid using extension cords whenever possible. If you must use one, obtain a heavy- duty one that is electrically grounded, with its own fuse, and install it safely. Extension cords should not go under doors, across aisles, be hung from the ceiling, or plugged into other extension cords.

Mechanical Safety

  • When using compressed air, use only approved nozzles and never direct the air towards any person.
  • Guards on machinery must be in place during operation.
  • Exercise care when working with or near hydraulically- or pneumatically-driven equipment. Sudden or unexpected motion can inflict serious injury.

Chemical Safety

  • Make sure all chemicals are clearly and currently labeled with the substance name, concentration, date, and name of the individual responsible.
  • All pressurized containers (e.g. gas cylinders) will be moved and installed only by staff personnel.
  • Secure all gas cylinders and label all chemicals to show nature and degree of hazard.
  • Use volatile and flammable compounds only in a fume hood. Procedures that produce aerosols should be performed in a hood to prevent inhalation of hazardous material. Be sure the fan is on at all times when using a fume hood. Fume hoods should not be used for storage.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) shall be provided for all hazardous chemicals before use. MSDS shall be kept in a predetermined area for each laboratory.
  • Clean up of large spills should not be attempted by students or teaching assistants. Ask a faculty member for help or call Public Safety at (815) 753-1212 or 911and/or Environmental Health and Safety (815) 753-0404. Evacuation of a laboratory should be conducted in event of a large chemical spill.
  • Know the proper use of chemicals and proper disposal of waste. Your Professor or Laboratory Instructor can supply this information.

 


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