Lab Safety Resources

Read about a fatal accident at UCLA Jan 2009

It is your responsibility to keep yourself and others safe in the lab.

Remember… safe science is good science.

Please help maintain a safe, clean and efficient lab by practicing appropriate safety measures. You should be familiar with the OSU Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) official rules:

Also please review the following orientation presentation:

In case of an EMERGENCY:

For any emergency the basics are the same:

  1. Keep yourself safe.
  2. Isolate the area.
  3. Sound the alarm.

For a chemical spill (nota bene: 4-6 are for large/flammable spills):

  1. Notify personnel.
  2. Perform immediate first aid.
  3. If contaminated, flush copiously with water and remove contaminated clothing.
  4. Eliminate sources of ignition.
  5. Evacuate the room.
  6. Call the Fire Department.

Material Safety Data Sheets

Most laboratory chemicals (even water!) have been evaluated for safety and handling issues. These are described in excruciating detail in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), often shipped with chemicals by the supplier. An alternative, potentially more useful format is the Laboratory Chemical Safety Sheet (LCSS) defined by the National Research Council. While the MSDS is intended to cover all possible situations (from transport in railroad cars to firefighting to handling in the lab), the LCSS is specifically intended to provide only the information necessary to handle the compound safely in working quantities.

You should know the meaning and implications of the following terms often found in an MSDS:

  • Mutagen: may cause genetic changes
  • Carcinogen: may cause cancer
  • Teratogen: may effect fetus/offspring

Locations of MSDS and safety information:

We also have an example of an LCSS for acetaldehyde that can be used as a template. Ideally, we should have an MSDS and an LCSS for any hazardous compound in the lab.

Labeling and Storage

All chemicals, particularly liquids, used in the lab should be clearly labeled. Be sure to make a note, on the container, of the date a chemical is first opened. If you transfer a chemical to another "secondary" container, that container should be clearly marked with the chemical name, and any unusual hazards (this is true even of a beaker of water).

It is strongly suggested that any stock solutions, secondary containers of chemicals, samples, supernatants, etc., etc. be clearly labeled with the following:

  • Concise description of the contents
  • Any hazards associated with the contents
  • Your name or initials, and the date
  • A notebook reference (if possible) — this is extremely helpful when trying to identify random samples later.

Anything stored in a public area (cabinet, fume hood, refrigerator/freezer, etc.) must carry this information!

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Working with chemicals and equipment can be dangerous. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, close-toed shoes, long pants, etc. when necessary. They are your risk barriers.

Disposable nitrile or latex gloves are not impervious to all chemicals! Consult the Chemical Resistance Guide (also posted on the dry chemical cabinet underneath the glove boxes in GLSN 300) to determine an appropriate choice. If you have latex allergies, you can wear a nitrile or cloth glove beneath latex gloves.

If safety goggles are worn during a chemical exposure to the face, leave them on until the surrounding area is thoroughly rinsed — they may be the only thing keeping the chemical out of your eyes!

Training and Information

The following resources provide more information on lab safety and skills.

External Links