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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
be undertaken without knowledge of the following points:
How to report a fire, injury, chemical spill, or other emergency to summon emergency response;
The location of emergency equipment such as safety showers and eyewashes;
The location of fire extinguishers and spill control equipment; and
The locations of all available exits for evacuation from the laboratory.
The above information should be available in descriptions of laboratory emergency procedures and in the institution's Chemical Hygiene Plan. Laboratory supervisors should ensure that all laboratory workers are familiar with all of this information.
Inappropriate action by individuals inadequately trained in emergency procedures can make the consequences of an emergency worse. Laboratory workers should be aware of their level of expertise with respect to use of fire extinguishers and emergency equipment, dealing with chemical spills, and dealing with injuries. They should not take actions outside the limits of their expertise but instead should rely on trained personnel.
Names and telephone numbers of responsible individuals should be posted on the laboratory door.
5.C.11.2 Handling the Accidental Release of Hazardous Substances
Experiments should always be designed so as to minimize the possibility of an accidental release of hazardous substances. Experiments should use the minimal amounts of hazardous compounds practical, and such materials should be transported properly, using break-resistant bottles or secondary containers. Personnel should be familiar with the properties (physical, chemical, and toxicological) of hazardous substances before working with them. A contingency plan to deal with the accidental release of each hazardous substance should be in place. The necessary safety equipment, protective apparel, and spill control materials should be readily available. In the event of a laboratory-scale spill, the following general guidelines for handling it should be followed in the indicated order:
Notify other laboratory personnel of the accident and, if necessary, evacuate the area (see section 5.C.11.3).
Tend to any injured or contaminated personnel and, if necessary, request help (see section 5.C.11.4).
Take steps to confine and limit the spill if this can be done without risk of injury or contamination (see section 5.C.11.5).
Other nearby workers should be alerted to the accident and the nature of the chemicals involved. In the event of the release of a highly toxic gas or volatile material, the laboratory should be evacuated and personnel posted at entrances to prevent other workers from inadvertently entering the contaminated area. In some cases (e.g., incidents involving the release of highly toxic substances and spills occurring in nonlaboratory areas), it may be appropriate to activate a fire alarm to alert personnel to evacuate the entire building. The proper authorities should be called on for emergency assistance.
5.C.11.4 Treatment of Injured and Contaminated Personnel
If an individual is injured or contaminated with a hazardous substance, tending to him or her generally takes priority over implementing the spill control measures outlined in section 5.A.11.5 below. It is important to obtain medical attention as soon as possible by calling the posted number.
For spills covering small areas of skin, follow these procedures:
Immediately flush with flowing water for no less than 15 minutes.
If there is no visible burn, wash with warm water and soap, removing any jewelry to facilitate clearing of any residual materials.
Check the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to see if any delayed effects should be expected.
Seek medical attention for even minor chemical burns.
Do not use creams, lotions, or salves.
Take the following steps for spills on clothes:
Do not attempt to wipe the clothes.
Quickly remove all contaminated clothing, shoes, and jewelry while using the safety shower.
Seconds count, so do not waste time because of modesty.
Take care not to spread the chemical on the skin or, especially, in the eyes.