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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
6.F.2.6 Storage and Inspection of Emergency Equipment
It is often useful to establish a central location for storage of emergency equipment. Such a location should contain the following:
self-contained breathing apparatus,
blankets for covering the injured,
stretchers (although it is generally best not to move a seriously injured person and to wait for qualified medical help to provide this service),
first aid equipment (for unusual situations such as exposure to hydrofluoric acid or cyanide, where immediate first aid is required), and
chemical spill cleanup kits and spill control equipment (e.g., spill pillows, booms, shoe covers, and a 55-gallon drum in which to collect sorbed material). (Also consult Chapter 5, sections 5.C.11.5 and 5.C.11.6.)
Safety equipment should be inspected regularly (e.g., every 3 to 6 months) to ensure that it will function properly when needed. It is the responsibility of the laboratory supervisor or safety coordinator to establish a routine inspection system and to verify that inspection records are being kept.
Inspections of emergency equipment should be performed as follows:
Fire extinguishers should be inspected for broken seals, damage, and low gauge pressure (depending on type of extinguisher). Proper mounting of the extinguisher and its ready accessibility should also be checked. Some types of extinguishers must be weighed annually, and periodic hydrostatic testing may be required.
Self-contained breathing apparatus should be checked at least once a month and after each use to determine whether proper air pressure is being maintained. The examiner should look for signs of deterioration or wear of rubber parts, harness, and hardware and make certain that the apparatus is clean and free of visible contamination.
Safety showers and eyewash fountains should be examined visually and their mechanical function should be tested. They should be purged as necessary to remove particulate matter from the water line.
The following emergency procedures are recommended in the event of a fire, explosion, spill, or medical or other laboratory accident. These procedures are intended to limit injuries and minimize damage if an accident should occur. Telephone numbers to call in emergencies should be posted clearly at all telephones in hazard areas.
Have someone call for emergency help. State clearly where the accident has occurred and its nature.
Ascertain the safety of the situation. Do not enter or reenter an unsafe area.
Render assistance to the people involved and remove them from exposure to further injury. 4. Warn personnel in adjacent areas of any potential risks to their safety.
Render immediate first aid; appropriate measures include washing under a safety shower, administration of CPR by trained personnel if heartbeat and/or breathing have stopped, and special first aid measures.
Extinguish small fires by using a portable extinguisher. Turn off nearby equipment and remove combustible materials from the area. For larger fires, contact the appropriate fire department promptly.
Provide emergency personnel with as much information as possible about the nature of the hazard.
In case of medical emergency, laboratory personnel should remain calm and do only what is necessary to protect life.
Summon medical help immediately.
Do not move an injured person unless he or she is in danger of further harm.
Keep the injured person warm. If feasible, designate one person to remain with the injured person. The injured person should be within sight, sound, or physical contact of that person at all times.
If clothing is on fire and a safety shower is immediately available, douse the person with water; otherwise, move the person to the floor and roll him or her around to smother the flames.
If harmful chemicals have been spilled on the body, remove them, usually by flooding the exposed area with sufficient running water from the safety shower, and immediately remove any contaminated clothing.
If a chemical has splashed into the eye, immediately wash the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelid with plenty of water for 15 minutes. An eyewash fountain should be used if available. Forcibly hold the eye open to wash thoroughly behind the eyelids.
If possible, determine the identity of the chemical and inform the emergency medical personnel attending the injured person.