Laboratory Safety Rules and Regulations

Safety Rules

A: Eye Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations (29CFR1910.133) require that all persons in a chemical laboratory must wear suitable eye-protection at all times while in that laboratory. These eye-protective devices shall be furnished free of charge to the student and are, by law, not transferable. During the first laboratory period you will be issued one pair of chemical splash goggles. These must be returned in good condition upon completing or dropping the course. These devices must be worn at all times in the laboratory. Anyone with a severe eye condition that requires other protection may wear individual eye protection that has been certified in writing by an optician (or equivalent) to meet all pertinent OSHA regulations. Contact lenses are never recommended and by themselves do not constitute appropriate eye protection. Students that choose to wear contact lenses will be asked to sign a waiver form releasing NCSU from liability in the event of damages as a result of wearing contact lenses in the laboratory.

B: Clothing and Personal Items

Shoes must be worn during the entire time that you are in the laboratory to protect you from splashes of chemicals, broken glass, and other hazards that may occur in the lab. The shoes must cover your feet without gaps such as open toes. Sandals, thongs and similar footwear are never permitted in the lab. Students are urged to dress with potential lab hazards in mind. It is never a good idea to wear expensive clothing in the lab due to the chances of spills. Clothing should be worn that protects as much of the body as possible.
Shorts (regardless of length), short skirts, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and halter tops are not considered safe attire and are not permitted.
Clothing may have to be removed immediately if ignited or grossly contaminated with chemicals during an experiment.
Laboratory aprons or lab coats may be worn to provide extra protection from accidents and spills. Lab coats and aprons may be purchased at the NCSU Bookstore. Loose fitting clothes, easily combustible clothes, and long, unrestrained hair are all fire and accident hazards, and are not appropriate in the laboratory. Since hearing is important for learning and to avoid accidents, radios or mp3 players may not be used in the lab.

C: Handling Chemicals

Chemicals spilled on hot plates can result in fire.

Emergency Procedures

Immediately alert your instructor to ANY accident or fire.

A: Fire

In the event that your hair or clothing catches fire — DO NOT RUN. This will fuel the fire. STOP - DROP - ROLL to smother the fire. Help to smother any fire on a co-worker with your apron or lab coat, or with your own body. If a fire begins and is confined in an open container such as a beaker, it can usually be extinguished simply by covering the top of the beaker to remove the source of oxygen. Be careful to avoid spreading a confined fire by blasting it with a fire extinguisher. It is usually best to have the TA operate a fire extinguisher if one is needed at all. Much damage can be done by the improper use of a fire extinguisher.

B: Evacuation

Whenever a Fire Alarm sounds, turn off water and electrical devices at your lab station, collect your purse and/or calculator and exit the building by the stairwell closest to your lab.
Avoid inhaling smoke from a chemical fire. Assemble in front of the FOX building. Your teaching assistant will check the student roster to be sure everyone is safe. Do not leave the area until your TA has checked your name on the roster. Return to the building ONLY after a security officer gives clearance.

C: Injury

Be familiar with the location and operation of the eye wash fountains and safety showers. Any chemical splash into the eye should be flushed for a full 15 minutes using the nearest eye wash. First aid supplies are available in the Stockroom. Slight wounds or burns may be treated there. Report all burns, cuts, or other injuries to your instructor.



Laboratory Work Area

In the laboratory each student has the use of and the responsibility for drawers containing itemized equipment. The student may share the use of a bench top and a sink. These latter areas consist of a center shelf, gas outlets, a fume exhaust hood, water taps (undistilled water), and a computer.

1. Drawer and Bench Top

Maintain general order and cleanliness in all parts of these areas. This is essential. Your observation of these rules will be evaluated in lab grading. Clean up any spills IMMEDIATELY. Equipment must be kept clean, intact, and in the amounts indicated on the equipment sheet. Keep your bench top uncluttered. Coats, book bags, umbrellas, etc. should be kept only in designated areas, not at your lab bench. Nothing should be present except authorized equipment and chemicals, and writing materials. Keep materials not in use well away from the work area and the edge of the bench. Objects that may roll (e.g., a thermometer) should be carefully placed in a drawer and not allowed to remain on the bench top.

2. Sinks, Gas Outlets, Hoods

Each sink has a tap for undistilled hot and cold water plus a tap providing a connection for suction tubing attached to an aspirator trap. A small exhaust hood is located over each sink. Do not attempt to adjust it. Place any sample emitting vapors directly under the hood to get optimum vapor trapping.
  • a
    Do not allow trash to accumulate in the sink.
  • b
    Discard glass only in containers marked "BROKEN GLASS".
  • c
    Do not leave rubber tubing attached to taps after experimental work is completed for the period.
  • d
    A detergent soap bottle should be located behind the water taps.
  • e
    Never hold glassware under the faucet nozzle while turning the tap ON or OFF. Water pressure may splatter chemicals or force the vessel from your grasp.
  • f
    Always check gas valves upon entering the lab and before leaving.

Instrument room

The instrument room is a community area. Items located in the instrument room area include: Balances, Mel-Temps, weighing paper, and electronic equipment.

1. General

2. Reagent Use

3. Reagent Disposal

4. Equipment handling

5. Analytical Balances

Hazards and Fires

The Organic Chemistry Laboratory is a "High Hazard" area. However, with proper attention to details and by following the "Safety Tips" given in lecture, lab briefings, and with most of the experiments in this book, this experience can be a totally safe and interesting one. We have made a concerted effort to eliminate the use of unusually toxic compounds. However, we will use a few compounds that are known to be, or which are suspected to be, quite toxic. This is inevitable if we are to give you a realistic experience with a wide variety of compounds. We will provide a special warning in these instances, and your TA will provide ideas on how to minimize the risk of handling them. You will notice that we never suggest that you touch, taste, or inhale any compound in any experiment. We will also attempt to use the smallest quantities possible, and to keep these well contained. Please cooperate by following directions closely, taking only what you need from the supply containers, and by carefully disposing of waste according to directions from your instructor. Material Safety Data Sheets ("MSDS") for most compounds used in this course are available for inspection and use in the Stockroom and on the Internet. Each sheet describes the physical and chemical properties, as well as the hazards, of a particular chemical. Be sure you know how to locate the MSDS file in the Stockroom. If you have any safety-related questions, be sure to ask your instructor for the answers. The time to inquire is NOW, before an emergency develops. Useful Internet Sites for Safety, MSDS, as well as other aspects of Organic Chemistry:

Fires in the Laboratory

One of the most feared accidents in any lab is a fire. However, fires are quite rare, and not a cause for undue concern. We have done everything possible to minimize the chances for a fire by drastically reducing quantities of flammable materials, and eliminating most potential sources of ignition (sparks and flames). For your information the following material is provided, just in case a fire does happen to break out. While any fire is serious, it is important to react in a manner that is appropriate for the scale of the fire. Remember that your safety is of primary importance. Never attempt to fight a fire if you fear that you will be unable to escape the laboratory. Your teaching assistant is trained to use the fire extinguishers. Rely on your TA for guidance. Take very good notes when your TA briefs you on laboratory safety.

Requirements for a Fire

All fires require three items:
  • FUEL,
    • OXYGEN, and
      • ENERGY, (a source of ignition)
Without all three of these, there can be no fire. Likewise, if a fire has started, removing the fuel or the oxygen will extinguish the fire.

Classes of Fires

Each class of fire requires a special type of extinguisher. For example, water may serve well for Class A, but it is not very effective for Class B, and it is definitely not acceptable for Class C or Class D. In these latter cases, water would cause much greater problems than the fire itself.

Fire Extinguishers

For a small fire, a portable fire extinguisher is a very valuable piece of equipment. However, there are several things that must be clearly understood before you even consider using one. There are several types of extinguishers for different types of fires. You may cause an even greater problem by using the wrong type of extinguisher.
Check the label on the extinguisher before using it.
Many extinguishers are designed for several classes of fires. A common multi-purpose extinguisher may be effective for Class A, B and C fires. Check the label. It is uncommon to find an extinguisher that is also approved for Class D fires. If this class of fire is possible in your area, for example if you are working with or storing considerable amounts of sodium metal or of magnesium powder or turnings, insist that a Class D extinguisher be available. Also, fire extinguishers require regular inspection. Check the tags on the extinguishers in the lab to verify that they have been inspected within the past twelve months. If they are overdue for inspection, notify your instructor at once. Also, notice that the extinguisher is usually mounted out in the hallway. This is to insure that you are at an escape route before you consider fighting the fire. Also, keep the Exit to your back as you fight the fire. In case the fire appears to get out of control, leave at once. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire, and notify your TA or the Stockroom personnel.

Fighting the Fire

Fight a fire ONLY if ALL of the following are TRUE
  • Everyone has left, or is leaving the lab.
  • Public Safety has been called (911).
  • The fire is very small and confined. (If the fire is in a beaker or a wastebasket, try to smother it by covering the container. Often, this works quite well and does not require the use of a Fire Extinguisher.)
  • You have a way out and you can fight the fire with your back to the Exit.
  • The extinguisher is rated for the class of fire you are fighting.
  • You can stay close to the floor to avoid breathing too much of the smoke.
  • You have had training and you feel confident in the use of the extinguisher, or no other escape alternative is available to you.

When you're ready to use the extinguisher —

What do you do? The key word to operating a fire extinguisher is PASS. This acronym is a good way to remember exactly what to do. Once the fire is out, you should have your TA and the lab supervisor check on the area. They will assume the responsibility of following up the incident with the appropriate authorities—if necessary. This will include making certain that all persons are out of the area, insuring that another fire extinguisher is nearby in the event of a recurrence of the fire, and contacting the appropriate fire safety personnel on campus to replenish the spent extinguisher. Remember you will probably NOT need to use a fire extinguisher at all in your chemistry laboratory.
Abandon the Fight if ANY of the following are TRUE
  • The fire has started to spread.
  • Your escape route may be blocked.
  • You have any trouble operating the extinguisher.
As you leave the lab, close the door to prevent spread of the fire and call 911 to be sure help is on the way. Then leave the building and wait in the designated area (in front of the FOX building) for help to arrive. (Remember that everyone must be accounted for at the meeting place BEFORE leaving that area. Anyone not found at the meeting area will be presumed trapped inside and someone will attempt a rescue).