Department Of Chemical Engineering :: Unit Operations Laboratory

Safety Guidelines

Safety is an important consideration when working in the lab. Even if your experiment does not have an apparent safety hazard, another group may be working on an experiment with gases at high pressure, hot fluids, or toxic chemicals. The following safety rules apply to all experiments in the Unit Operations Lab. Some experiments may require additional safety precautions. Make sure to check the safety manual for individual experiments!

Personal Protective Equipment Required for All Experiments

  • Hardhat
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Long pants
  • Insulated gloves when working with steam
  • Nitrile gloves when working with chemicals
Some experiments may require additional safety equipment. Consult the safety manual for each experiment before the lab!

Safety Guidelines Common for All Experiments

  1. Understand every part of the equipment before starting the experiment.
  2. Think carefully before you operate the equipment.
  3. Check Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals involved in the experiment.
  4. Follow operating instructions and use checklists posted on the course website.
  5. Only explosion-proof or intrinsically safe electronic devices are allowed during laboratory operations. All other electronic devices (including computers, cell phones, and calculators) must be turned off.
  6. Contact lenses should not be worn in the lab.
  7. Nitrile gloves should be removed before leaving the lab.
  8. Mechanical pipetting devices must be used; pipetting by mouth is not allowed.
  9. In experiments involving steam (TFE, CD, and BD), keep the water on while the steam is on.
  10. Be aware that floors are slippery when wet and should be kept as dry as possible by pushing excess water into the gutters with a squeegee.
  11. Do not play around.
  12. No food or drink in the lab. If needed, get your TA’s permission to have a snack in the hallway.
  13. Pick up all trash and dispose of it properly. Hazardous waste should be disposed of in labeled hazardous waste containers.
  14. Wash hands before leaving for the day.
  15. Remember the basic rules for chemicals:
    • Don’t get them on your skin;
    • Don’t breathe the fumes;
    • Don’t eat them;
    • Don’t expose them to any combustion source.
  16. Go through the checklist before starting a new experiment
  17. Follow additional safety guidelines for individual experiments.

Chemical Spill Clean up

  1. Make sure you know the location of the nearest spill kit before you start your experiment.
  2. Do not touch the chemicals with your hands and make sure you wash your hands and arms after spill control is finished.
  3. Small spills may be absorbed using Kimwipes. Make sure to wear gloves while doing this!
  4. In case of a large spill:
    • Pour enough absorbent onto the spill so that:
      • The spill does not spread out and
      • All of the spilled fluid is absorbed.
    • Block access to the spill area by safety cones and yellow warning tape.
    • Notify the lab technician or the lab director.
    • Wait until the spilled material is absorbed.
    • After the spilled material is absorbed, collect the absorbent and place it in doubled trash bags with a hazardous waste label properly filled out. Bags and labels are available in Room 118.
    • Place filled bags into the designated area for hazardous waste collection.
    • All group members must remain in the lab until the spill is cleaned up and either the lab director or the lab technician has inspected the spill area.
  5. In case of a very large spill, such as a drum or tank rupture:
    • Evacuate the area.
    • Notify the lab technician, the lab director, and the Main Office.