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Student Safety Guidelines

The following are simple procedures that each student must follow when in the lab. In addition, experiment-specific precautions will be given before the start of each experiment. In all cases, students must obey the instructions of the professor and the teaching assistant when in the laboratory.

Equipment for Individual Safety

Protective Eye Ware: Protective goggles (splash/impact type) must be worn AT ALL TIMES while in the laboratory. This is the case whether you are conducting an experiment or just visiting the lab. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Lab Coats: These are optional, but highly recommended for your safety and the protection of your clothing. Some instructors, may however, require them as mandatory items.

Gloves: Gloves (surgical latex type or rubber) are recommended for certain experiments. Your instructor will inform you as to when they are appropriate.

Fume Hoods: Fume hoods are located in each laboratory for your use. You will be instructed regarding their proper usage by your teaching assistant or instructor.

Safety Showers and Eyewash Stations: Each lab is equipped with at least one safety shower and one eyewash station for use by individuals who have suffered an extreme or acute exposure to chemicals. All students must familiarize themselves with the locations of these devices. The professor and/or the teaching assistant MUST be notified IMMEDIATELY if a student believes that he or she must use either of these implements.

Fire Extinguishers and Fire Blankets: All students must familiarize themselves with the location of the fire suppressing equipment present in each lab. Under normal circumstances, most fires will be small and easily contained. Unless there is clearly an immediate danger, students should notify the professor and/or the teaching assistant of a fire before attempting to extinguish it themselves.

Operating Procedures (H2 heading)

Although working with various chemicals can be extremely hazardous, scientists routinely carry out their investigations with a minimum of problems, by observing a few sensible precautions. Substances such as HCN can be lethal in very small concentrations while aluminum trimethyl is pyrophic (i.e., spontaneously flammable in ordinary air) and liquid bromine causes severe skin burns on contact. While we will not be using these reagents, we will be distilling substances as flammable as gasoline and the organic lab (as well as the inorganic lab) is dangerous. For this reason it is imperative that you READ, UNDERSTAND, and PRACTICE the following precautions in the laboratory.

  1. Safety glasses, preferably goggles that offer side protection must be worn at all times in the laboratory whether or not you are carrying out any experiments.
  2. Under no circumstances should you enter the laboratory or attempt to work in the absence of an instructor.
  3. If at any time you intend to deviate from the assignment for the day, notify the instructor and obtain permission.
  4. Never eat, drink, or smoke in the laboratory.
  5. Never sit or lean on the laboratory bench tops.
  6. Treat all chemicals with maximum care. Assume that all are highly toxic and flammable. Be careful with flames.
  7. Clean up all minor chemical spillage immediately, particularly at the balance area, and report all major spills to your instructor.
  8. Keep the bench-top free of towels (both paper and cloth). Only approved apparatus and the notebook should be routinely on the working surface.
  9. Never point the open end of any vessel, flask, test tube, vial, separatory funnel, etc. containing possible reactants toward you or any other person.
  10. Learn the location and correct use of the fire extinguishers, the fire blanket, safety showers, and eyewash fountains.
  11. Always be prepared for each day’s work in the laboratory by reading and making sure of the experimental procedure.
  12. Always have the instructor check your setup of apparatus before starting a procedure.
  13. Check your glassware for cracks before using it in your experiment.
  14. Mineral Acids should be washed down the drain with large amounts of water. For all other waste, follow the disposal instructions of your instructor.
  15. No glassware should be disposed of in the regular trash, use the broken glass boxes provided in each lab.
  16. Before disposing of any glass container in the broken glass box, make sure it is clean and empty of all chemical matter.
  17. No trash is to be thrown in the sink, inform your instructor immediately if any sink overflows or leaks.

The above rules are only some of the simple rules you should observe, remember you will be working with potentially hazardous chemicals, always use your common sense in an effort to maintain a safe working environment for everyone.