18. Chemical Safety

Before beginning to work in any EAS Laboratory you must have either attended a WHMIS and EAS Safety talk OR completed the online WHMIS training and EAS Safety Training and passed the written test for both. Go back to the first page of this program to find the web-link for the   U of A WHMIS training on the Office of Environmental Health & Safety website.

Chemical spills in the lab can and do occur. Th safety talks and the online department safety program has been presented to inform all EAS personnel how to deal with small chemical spills and who to call in the event of a large or very toxic spill. All information is to be considered to be “generictraining“. The “site specific” training in the laboratory MUST be OBTAINED from the Lab Supervisor. The Lab Supervisor is responsible to fully train all personnel who work in their designated laboratories. All workers in all EAS Laboratories must work safely and wear the protective equipment provided, (PPE).  Your supervisor must provide the Personal Protective equipment for the type of work in their lab areas, and as a “Worker” in that laboratory, you are required to wear the Personal Protective Equipment.

Here is a link to the U of A, Office of Environmental Health & Safety regarding PPE usage on campus:  http://www.ehs.ualberta.ca/en/LabPPE.aspx

This is a link to Alberta Workplace on PPE’s:  http://work.alberta.ca/SearchAARC/569.html

Before you begin working in a laboratory there are some important Safety Checks you should do for your safety and for the safety of others.

Have a Safety Plan in Place:                                                                                                                     All labs should have a Safety Plan in place so that everyone knows what to do when something goes wrong in the workplace.  What to do if someone is injured; what to do if equipment failure poses a hazard; who to call when things go wrong in the lab.  This can be as simple as having emergency numbers posted in the lab.  Make sure to keep this list up to date.

Know:
Where all safety items are located. Gloves, lab coats, safety glasses or goggles or face shields, hearing protection. Be sure to wear the appropriate safety protection for the job you will be doing.

Find:
The First Aid kit in your laboratory.

Locate:
Where the spills kit and chemical spills absorbent are located. If the lab uses spill pillows for small spills, find the pillows and check which types of spills they are to be used on. If the lab uses prepackages spills kits, check the types of spills they are meant to be used on.

Note:
Where the safety shower is located in the room and be sure the pathway to this shower is unobstructed. Also note where the eye-wash is located and that the pathway to the eyewash is unobstructed.

Find:
The MSDS Binder for your laboratory and READ the MSDS sheets on all of the chemicals you will be using in your experiments. Know their hazards before you work with the chemicals.

Locate:
The nearest exit from the room and locate the nearest fire exit from the building.

Check:
Which type of fire extinguisher is in your lab and note its location. You are not required to try and put out a fire.

Locating the safety equipment is essential for your safety and the safety of others. When an incident occurs, that is not the time to look for the first aid kit. You should not work in any laboratory alone; in an emergency the assistance of another lab worker is vital.

Chemical Exposures:

If you splash or spill a chemical on yourself, you must remove all clothing, (clothing will wick and hold the chemical closer to your body and cause a deeper burn from a corrosive chemical), and use the safety shower for at least 15 minutes. You need to have another lab worker contact one of the EAS Chemical Spills Designates; they all have their first aid. You will seek medical attention after showering; always take a hardcopy of the MSDS sheet with you.

If you splash or get a chemical in your eye – you must immediately use the eyewash for at least 20 minutes. Again, contact one of the EAS Chemical spills designates. You will seek medical attention for all eye injuries – take a hardcopy of the MSDS sheet with you to the doctor/hospital.

REMEMBER: SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY