Safety

 

Lab Safety Basics

The Department of Chemistry is committed to providing a safe laboratory environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors to our beautiful facilities. As teaching and research assistants, graduate students are responsible for helping to maintain that safe environment.

An Image of Graduate Student, Ben England demonstrating proper lab safety

 

  • Be safety conscious at all times.
  • Never work in the laboratory alone, or at least without another person within easy call. Always inform someone (e.g., security at extension x4-6110) that you are in the laboratory if you will be alone.
  • Safety goggles should be worn, particularly when working with glassware under reduced or elevated pressure.
  • Contact lenses should not be worn; chemicals splashed into the eyes or dissolved in tears from vapors can be trapped under contact lenses and are not rinsed away by normal tear action or by washing at an eye-wash fountain.
  • Do not store food or beverages in a chemical refrigerator.
  • Secure all compressed gas cylinders.
  • From phones on the university telephone system, calls for the fire department, metropolitan police (emergencies only) or for an ambulance are made by dialing x9-911.
  • All incidents in the Department of Chemistry must be reported.  Please follow the Accident and Injury Protocol.  In case of an emergency,  call the university police at extension x4-6111. Seek medical attention if necessary.  If more than first aid is required,  an injured student should be taken to the Colonial Health Center. In emergencies or if the student health center is closed, patients should be taken to the emergency room at the GW hospital.  An Incident Report forms should be completed for each incident.

 

Accident or Injury Protocol

 

Accidents occasionally happen in a laboratory or work setting. Oftentimes, these are not the fault of anyone and there is no need to be afraid or embarrassed to report them. Some incidents may appear minor but may have a delayed reaction. It is important for your health and safety, and that of others, to make sure we know an accident, exposure or injury has occurred. Our goal is to be made aware of incidents for the purpose of preventing them in the future only. Please follow this protocol so we can all remain safe!

In case of emergency, call 202-994-6111 or 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Seek medical attention if necessary!

Incidents that should be reported to Dept. of Chemistry:

  1. Any incident involving a person (e.g. cut, chemical exposure, chemical spill on person, non-lab injuries within chemistry facilities)
  2. Any substantial ( > 1L) or noxious chemical spill
  3. Any chemical spill that requires specialized clean-up (e.g. mercury)
  4. Fire
  5. “Near-misses” you saw or experienced and feel we should be made aware of (may report these anonymously)

For small chemical spills or glass breaks, clean up according to SDS guidelines. If you are uncomfortable doing so, notify PI, lab manager or lab supervisor immediately. Near misses would include incidents, such as explosions under the hood, etc., where no one was injured and were easily cleaned up.

Please notify the following people/departments:

  1. Your Principal Investigator (PI) and/or Laboratory Supervisor
  2. Chemistry Department via the online Incident Report Form
  3. Health and Management ONLY upon instruction from Dept. of Chemistry

Reports to the Chemistry Department will go to the laboratory manager and they will follow-up regarding next steps to take, if any. For incidents that occur in teaching labs, TAs should be the reporting party.

Fill out necessary forms listed below

Required for everyone

  1. Dept. of Chemistry Incident Report Form

Upon instruction of Dept. of Chemistry

  1.  Office of Risk Management Incident Report
  2.  GW's Accident Reporting Form

For employees wishing to seek worker’s compensation

  1.  Worker's Compensation

Exposure to chemicals, including contaminated sharps: In the event of an accident or exposure to a hazardous substance, employees should perform the following procedures:

  • Wash/irrigate area of exposure in sink/shower/eyewash for 15 minutes
  • Clean and contain area to eliminate the possibility for other exposures
  • Identify chemical of exposure
  • Follow SDS prescribed exposure/first aid procedures
  • Seek medical attention if necessary

Helpful Resources

Commonly-encountered hazards

How to perform a hazard assessment

 

Campus Advisories

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