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Laboratory Rules and Safety

Chemistry wet laboratories contain certain inherent dangers and hazards. As a chemistry student working in a laboratory, you must learn how to work safely with these hazards in order to prevent injury to yourself and others around you. You must make a constant effort to think about the potential hazards associated with what you are doing, and to think about how to work safely to prevent or minimize these hazards as much as possible. The following guidelines are here to help you. Please understand and follow these guidelines and act according to the principles behind them to help everybody to be as safe as possible. Ultimately, your own safety is your own responsibility. Please make sure you are familiar with the safety precautions, hazard warnings and procedures of the experiment you are performing on a given day before you start any work. If you are unsure of how to do something safely, please ask the TA before proceeding. Experiments should not be performed without an instructor in attendance and must not be left unattended while in progress. No unauthorized experiments are allowed. No modification of the experiments is allowed. No work outside of regular hours is allowed, except under exceptional circumstances.

Anyone who fails to be governed by the Safety Regulations is subject to disciplinary action and possible removal from the laboratory and course.

Safety Rules
  1. Make sure you are familiar with all the safety information given to you about each experiment before starting the experiment. This includes your manual, these safety guidelines, any posted information or any other information provided to by your TA.
  2. Always wear safety glasses (including during check-in and check-out), except when their removal has been specifically authorized by the TA prior to their removal. Contact lenses are forbidden. You must also wear a face shield when requested to by the TA.
  3. You must wear a lab coat (and do it up) in all Chemistry labs. 
  4. Footwear must completely cover the foot and heel (no sandals, baby dolls, ballet flats, mules, open-toed footwear, etc.). 
  5. You must wear long pants (no shorts, capris, skirts, or dresses). 
  6. If you arrive at your Chemistry lab and do not have the required clothing, you will be directed to rent or purchase missing items (glasses, lab coats, disposable foot coverings and long pants) from Chemistry Stores before you will be allowed to participate in the lab. 
  7. Loose hair must be tied back so as to be out of the way. Dangling jewellery must be removed. 
  8. Do not eat or drink in the lab. 
  9. Visitors are not allowed to be in the lab. 
  10. Please keep your work area and the common work areas tidy. Also, please make sure the aisles, safety showers, eyewash stations and doorways are unobstructed. 
  11. Please leave all glassware, equipment, tools, etc. as clean or cleaner than you found them. 
  12. Please clean up spills immediately. If the spill is large or is of a hazardous material, inform the TA immediately. Use spill mix to absorb solvent or caustic liquids. 
  13. Please dispose of waste properly and in a timely manner and according to the instructions provided in your lab manual. If you are not sure, please ask your TA for the proper method of disposal. 
  14. Wash your hands before you leave the lab. 
  15. Do not remove chemicals or equipment from the lab except when required to do so for analysis. 
  16. Please notify your TA of any serious medical conditions. 
  17. Do not wear earbuds or earphones while in the lab.

Chemical Safety 
  1. The vapours of many organic solvents are flammable or combustible. Do not expose electric sparks, open flames and heating elements to organic solvent vapours. UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ASSUME ALL ORGANIC SOLVENTS ARE FLAMMABLE. 
  2. Many chemicals (solid, liquid or vapour) are poisonous. Do not taste chemicals. If it is necessary to smell a chemical, do so by fanning the vapours towards your nose. Never inhale directly. Avoid inhaling dust or fine powders. Use fume hoods and personal protective equipment when necessary. 
  3. Do not pipet with your mouth. 
  4. Be extremely careful when transferring, distilling or refluxing volatile liquids. 
  5. Do not return used chemicals back to the stock container. 
  6. Do not tap flasks under vacuum. 
  7. Do not heat, measure or mix any chemicals in front of your face. 
  8. Never heat a closed system – it will act as a bomb! 
  9. Never pour water into concentrated acid. Pour acid slowly into water, stirring constantly. Mixing acid with water is often exothermic. 
  10. Concentrated acids and bases are stored in the fume hood. Do not carry them to your bench. 
  11. Make sure test tubes containing reactions are pointed away from people, especially when they are being heated. Pressurized gas cylinders must only be operated by the TA. 

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System, or WHMIS, is the name given to the legislation covering hazardous materials used in Canadian workplaces, including educational institutions. In basic terms, suppliers are required to adequately label their products and provide accompanying Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), employers are required to educate workers and ensure that the appropriate safety information is available to the employees, and employees are required to learn the information on hazardous products before using them. In Chemistry laboratories, you are the employee, and therefore, are required to know the properties of the chemicals you will be handling before you enter the laboratory. 

Apart from requiring that MSDS be available to workers, one of the other important aspects of WHMIS is the requirement for clear labels and hazard symbols on hazardous products. The following eight hazard symbols should be used as guides for the handling of chemical reagents:

Emergency Procedures
  • Become familiar with the location of the safety showers, eyewash stations, first aid kits and fire extinguishers. Remember, every sink with a hose can act as an eyewash station. 
  • Know the route you are supposed to take in case of an evacuation. 
  • If your clothes catch on fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL. 
  • In a potentially life threatening emergency situation, notify your TA and call 911. 
  • For non-life threatening security emergency situations, notify your TA and call Campus Security at 2-5050. 

First Aid
  • Burns 
    • Burns represent the most common injury in the chemistry lab. They are generally of either the thermal or chemical type. First aid for surface burns of the thermal type involves immersing the burned part in cool water or applying an ice pack to relieve pain and prevent swelling and blistering. The burn is then covered with a clean, sterile, lint-free dressing. Do not apply lotions, ointments or oily dressings. For more serious burns involving deeper layers of skin and tissue, arrange for immediate medical aid. 
    • To minimize injury due to chemical burns, the chemical must be removed from the skin immediately. Flush liquid chemicals away with water; continue to flush for 20 minutes. Continue first aid as for a thermal burn (preceding paragraph). Medical attention should always be sought in the case of chemical burns, especially as delayed reactions are not uncommon. 

  • Chemicals Spilled on the Skin Over a Large Area
    • Quickly remove all contaminated clothing while using the safety shower to flush the chemical from the skin. Time is of the essence here and there is no place for modesty. Continue to flush the affected area with water for at least 20 minutes. Do not use chemical neutralizers. Treat any chemical burns as outlined in the Burns section above. 

  • Chemicals Spilled on the Skin Over a Limited Area 
    • Immediately flush the affected area with cold water. Once again, time is of the essence. Do not use chemical neutralizers. Treat any chemical burns as outlined in the Burns section above. 

  • Chemicals Splashed into the Eyes 
    • Immediately flood the eyes with water so as to dilute and eliminate the chemical. Hold the eyelids open to facilitate the process. Flush the eyes for at least 20 minutes. Apply clean dressings over both eyes and arrange for immediate medical aid, regardless of the severity of the injury. 

  • Accidental Ingestion of Chemicals 
    • Contact the Poison Control Centre at 1-800-332-1414. Relay the following information: identity of the poison, the quantity taken, the route of entry into the body and the time elapsed since the ingestion. Follow the instructions given for treatment. 

  • Medical Aid 
    • Medical aid is available from Student Health Services, 2nd floor, SUB. If medical aid is required, do not try to go by yourself. The TA in charge of the lab will make arrangements to have someone accompany you. 

Rules Specific For The Organic Chemistry Laboratories.
  • Be careful when packing melting point tubes or using Pasteur pipettes - glass capillaries and pipettes are very fragile and can result in cuts to the hand. 
  • Broken glassware should be CLEANED and then disposed of in the yellow ‘Broken Glass’ containers. 
  • Do NOT force glass tubing through corks or stoppers. Use lubricant if necessary. 
  • Hot glassware burns! (Hot glassware looks the same as cold glassware!) 
  • Chemical reagents should always be stored in labeled bottles. Read the label carefully before using the reagent. Do not take more than the required amount of chemical and do NOT return any unused chemical back to the reagent bottle. 
  • Solid waste should be disposed of in the ‘Solid Waste’ container in the fumehood. 
  • Organic liquid waste should be disposed of in the ‘Organic Liquid’ waste container located in the fumehood. 
  • Chemically contaminated paper (e.g. filter paper, weigh paper) should be disposed of in the contaminated paper waste container (located in the fumehood). 
  • Paper waste is discarded in the waste paper basket found under the central sink. 
  • Silica gel and TLC plates should be disposed of in the silica waste container (in the fumehood).
  • Mercury spills from broken thermometers must be cleaned up immediately. Notify your TA and obtain a mercury clean up kit from the chemistry store room (W1-32). 
  • Dilute aqueous inorganic solutions, acids, and bases can be disposed of down the drain with large volumes of water. 
  • Do NOT pour any organic liquids (including acetone!) down the drain. If you are not sure, please ask your TA. 
  • At the end of the lab, ensure that your gallenkamp and digital thermometer are turned OFF.