The safety guidelines and rules listed below are relevant to the Department of Chemistry and many of the links direct you to safety information contained on the EH&S website.  You are encouraged to directly browse the complete list of safety instructional guides and bulletins provided by EH&S if a topic of interest does not appear explicitely in the list below.  For some of the listed topics, additional notes pertinent to departmental policy are provided, these comments complement, but do not replace or override, any EH&S advisory notices which should also be read in full.

The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) found below should be consulted before the relevant activity is undertaken.  Faculty and students are invited to suggest and author new SOP's that they consider important to their field of research. Webpages of other chemistry departments may also provide good sources of SOP's; e.g., the searchable SOP library available on the UCLA website is highly recommended.

OSU Safety Rules General Safety Chemical Safety Laboratory Safety
General Safety Guidelines
Chemical Hygiene Plan Chemical Storage Cryogens
Electrical Safety Elevators Fire Safety
First Aid Fume Hoods Gas Cylinders
Glove Safety Radiation Safety  Safety Glasses 
Eye Wash & Safety Shower Teaching Lab Classes Transporting Chemicals
Waste Disposal Lone Working Practices SDS

Standard Operating Procedures

[UCLA SOP library]

Chemical Handling
General Techniques Specific Apparatus
Alkali Metals Freeze-pump-thaw Degassing Autoclave Hydrothermal Expts
Concentrated Acids Safe Use of Lasers Glass Cutter
  Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)    High temp box furnace
 Pyrophoric Liquids   Pellet Press
     Rigaku Niniflex XRD (PDF)
Chemical Storage

Chem. Dept. Note:  All Chemicals, including novel materials synthesized during the course of research, should be stored in appropriate containers (usually brown glass screw cap bottles) which are clearly labeled.  To better identify synthesized compounds, it is recommended that chemical formulas/structures are included on the label rather than just laboratory notebook numbers. 

  • Do not remove labels from commericially supplied materials which show hazard warnings. 
  • Do not store mutually incompatible materials in close proximity to each other. 
  • Flammable solvents must be stored at all times in metal cabinets designed for this purpose and odoriferous/noxious chemicals should be kept in vented cabinets. 
  • Shelving units used to store chemicals should be anchored to the wall and individual shelves provided with lips to prevent bottles falling from them in the event to mild earthquake (avoid storing hazardous chemicals above head height).

Chem. Dept. Note:  Aside from the obvious frost-bite risk posed by the extremely low temperatures present in cryogenic liquids (and solid CO2), be especially aware of the asphyxiating properties of gases given off upon warming of these substances.  In particular, it is not advised to travel in an elevator with large Dewars containing liquid nitrogen or helium.  If potentially asphyziating cryogenic liquids are to be used in confined spaces, oxygen-level monitoring devices should be installed.


Chem. Dept. Note:  When transporting chemical substances in the elevators, make sure that the elevator car does not become contaminated with any chemical residues.  This includes the elevator controls (gloves previously worn in a laboratory should be taken off before roaming around the department).  The elevator in Gilbert Addition is used by many undergraduate students during teaching hours (MF 8-6, TWR 8-5) and it is asked that this particular conveyance is not used for the purpose of waste transportation at these times.  Care should be taken when transporting cryogens in elevators.  Elevators should never be used in the event of fire.

Fire Safety (EH&S Advisories: Safe Exiting)

Chem. Dept. Note: Avoid using ignition sources in the vicinity of flammable solvents and be very careful during summer months when solvent vapor pressures are high and the risk of vapor flash can be extreme (especially from volatile ethereal solvents).  Historically, many chemical lab fires have been caused by the improper quenching of sodium metal, this material should only be handled by qualified personnel and it is recommended that digestion be carried out with isopropanol (preferrably under inert atmosphere).  Quenching even small flecks of sodium metal with water produces sparks which will readily ignite solvent vapors (e.g. from a waste acetone bottle in a sink).  Similar care should be taken with other pyrophoric materials.

To lessen the risk of small fires spreading rapidly, keep laboratories tidy and free of unnecessary combustible materials, such as waste cardboard and paper.

Apprise yourself of the location of fire extinguishers, alarms and building exits.  Inform EH&S if you notice any fire extinguishers which are not full.  All new employees to the Department of Chemistry receive fire extinguisher training during orientation.  If for whatever reason you missed this opportunity, contact the safety committee and arrange to be included in the next orientation session.

Raise the alarm if you discover a fire (pull alarm handle, shout "fire!" to alert co-workers, call 911).  Only small fires should be tackled with extinguishers.  If your capability to handle the fire is in any doubt, get out (make sure door to room containing fire is shut but not locked) and wait outside building for the fire department to arrive.

First Aid (EH&S Advisory on First Aid Kits)

Chem. Dept. Note:  Chemistry department personnel trained in first-aid and the location of first-aid kits are listed on the Safety Home page.  It is recommended in all but the most trivial cases of injury or sickness that an ambulance is called (911) immediately and before seeking the help of a first-aider.

Safety Glasses (EH&S Advisory on Prescription Safety Glasses Program)

Chem. Dept. Note: Safety glasses/goggles are arguably the single most important piece of personal safety equipment in the chemical sciences and should be worn AT ALL TIMES in our teaching and research laboratories.  All employees of the Department of Chemistry who are required by their job description to work in laboratories, have the right to be provided with prescription safety glasses free of charge.  Follow the link above to learn more about the OSU prescription safety spectacles program.

last update: 11/4/13 (PRB)