The Department of Chemistry strives continuously to provide a safe working environment in all of our instructional and research laboratories and support facilities. Despite the variety of potential hazards inherent in chemical laboratories, proper observance by all faculty, staff, and students of the safety practices outlined in this guide will minimize the possible risks and help to maintain an excellent safety record.
The TAMU Hazardous Waste Management Program is administered by the University's Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHSD) . TAMU is not permitted to treat or dispose of hazardous waste locally. Information on specific responsibilities and procedures may be obtained by calling EHSD at 845-2132. EHSD collects hazardous waste from Room 001G in the Chemistry Building, transports it, and properly stores it until it is shipped for disposal and maintains permanent records of all disposed waste. Generators of hazardous chemical are responsible for following University disposal procedures, for assuring that their employees are trained in proper disposal procedures, and for properly identifying the hazardous chemical waste generated. The following procedures are intended to assure compliance with applicable Federal and State regulations for the proper management of hazardous chemical waste and to reduce adverse effects to human health and the environment.
For additional information about hazardous or non-hazardous chemicals, contact the Environmental Safety Health Department, 845-2132.
All waste collection containers must be kept closed, except when adding or removing material.
Print the information on the tag legibly.
Follow the example below to properly complete hazardous waste disposal tags.
The U.S. Congress has made waste minimization a national policy and the goal of each waste generator. The following practices will help to reduce the volume and toxicity of hazardous waste, benefitting everyone's health and safety, protecting the environment, and reducing disposal costs:
Many operations in chemical laboratories involve dangerous materials. The well-being of an individual as well as of those around him/her demands that careful attention be given to safety. It is tragically true that the results of a moment's carelessness or thoughtlessness can cost a life, or a lifetime of disability. Equipment which operates unattended must be posted with emergency shut-down procedures. It must be interlocked to be fail-safe in the event of failure of utility service such as power, water, compressed air, etc.
Discuss every hazardous procedure with your research director, with your supervisor, or with persons knowledgeable in the field. Any occurrence, even though improbable, that produces a highly dangerous situation must be anticipated (e.g., pressure vessels must be equipped with safety valves; highly toxic materials being processed in a glass equipment train or vacuum line will be released if the train breaks; therefore, the operation must be carried out in a suitable hood, etc.)
Reports of unsafe conditions should be brought to the attention of your supervisor, the Department Head's Office, or the departmental Business Office.
A written report on every accident involving a fire or personal injury must be filed with Judy Ludwig in Room 121, in order that procedures to replenish all fire extinguisher and to secure Workers' Compensation coverage for injured individuals will be activated. Standard forms on which these reports must be written are available from Judy Ludwig in Room 121.
Because of the complexity of the Chemistry Building, it is impractical to assign evacuation routes. Plan your evacuation route before it becomes necessary to use it. Be familiar with it, and always have an alternative route in mind. As a rule, DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS. (If fire alarms have been activated, elevators will not operate.) Persons who are unable to walk should be carried. All personnel should assemble in the following areas after evacuating the building:
It is imperative that any emergency be reported quickly and precisely.
Call 9-911 or 5-2345 to notify the University Police on a 24-hour basis.
Call 5-3335 to notify the departmental Business Office during regular working hours.
Outside normal business hours, contact the Physical Plant Radio Room at 5-4311.
In the event that it is necessary to evacuate part of or the entire Chemistry Building complex, each research group and instructional laboratory will be notified by a designated contact person.
Not Life Threatening (e.g., electrical power failure, water failure, nontoxic chemical spill).
Life Threatening (e.g., fire, toxic chemical spill, bomb scare)
If minor injury occurs, employees should see a healthcare provider or medical center of their choice. For workers’ compensation coverage employees should, upon check-in, report their visit as a work-related injury. Non-employee students and visiting scholars who are not covered under the Texas A&M University System Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program can see a healthcare provider or medical center of their choice.
Non-employee students can visit the Beutel Health Center.
IN THE CASE OF BURNS, ANY BURN COVERING AN AREA LARGER THAN THE PALM OF A HAND OR ANY BURN WHICH OCCURS AROUND THE FACE OR HEAD SHOULD BE TREATED AS A SERIOUS INJURY.
For serious injuries, such as the burns described above or any injury where there is the possibility of traumatic shock, the following procedures should be followed:
The University Police or an ambulance will transport the injured person to the nearest off-campus medical center.
N THE EVENT OF ANY INJURY, WHETHER MINOR OR SERIOUS, A WRITTEN INJURY REPORT FORM MUST BE FILED WITH JUDY LUDWIG IN ROOM 122.
The following is a list of recommended manuals and handbooks dealing with safety in the laboratory. They are available in the Business Office, Room 119.
The chemical fume hoods in our laboratories are designed to protect you from toxic and noxious vapors. They are the most important item of safety equipment in your laboratory. In order to gain the full protection these hoods afford, the following operating procedures should always be observed:
Mercury spills should be cleaned up immediately. A vacuum cleaner for picking up mercury is available from the stockroom in Room 014. This unit has a special cell to trap the mercury and has a filtered exhaust that prevents mercury vapor from being expelled into the atmosphere and is to be used exclusively on mercury.
Use of the Mercury Vacuum:
PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ATTACHED TO THE UNIT FOR OPERATION PROCEDURES.
To check out the unit, contact the stockroom personnel, Room 014. Sign out in the "Mercury Vacuum Log Book". A clean bag is inside the unit; please replace it with a new one (available next to the vacuum) after use. Seal the paper vacuum cleaner bag in the plastic bag provided and bring it back to the research stockroom with the vacuum during business hours, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Gloves are available in the research stockroom.
If you suspect the presence of mercury vapor in your area, call Ronald G. Carter at 845-3335.
If there is a problem with fire alarms, fire extinguishers or other built-in fire protection, call the Business Office at 5-3335.
It is not the responsibility of our students or employees to fight fires. However, if you are trained in using a fire extinguisher and are sure that there are no hazards from which you are not protected, you may prevent further injury or damage by taking the following steps:
It is an unfortunate fact that floods do occasionally occur in our buildings. This is a common occurrence in most laboratory buildings where water is used extensively for cooling instruments, condensers, etc. As with most accidental incidents, preventive measures are best. Make sure that you know how to prevent them and what to do if they occur.
The following measures can be taken to prevent floods:
What to do when a flood has occurred:
The term "flammable" is defined to be any substance having a flash point of 30 C or lower (e.g., all Class I-A and I-B liquids).
Texas A&M University's implementation of the Texas Hazard Communication Act requires that all employees attend a general orientation session at least once during their employment, during which the purpose of the Act and employee's rights under it will be explained. The Chemistry Department periodically arranges training sessions throughout the year, as needed.
All personnel who routinely use or handle hazardous chemicals must also undergo annual work area-specific training conducted by their supervisor. This training provides additional assistance and practice, as needed, in interpreting Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's) and labels on chemical containers and in proper handling of hazardous chemicals and disposal of chemical wastes.
We are dedicated to the implementation and improvement of a departmental safety culture. One of the latest initiatives in the department is the biannual departmental Peer to Peer Safety Review program. Currently, this program involves twenty volunteering research groups (see below). In the initial phase, these twenty research groups are paired up into ten teams based on similarities in research background and experimental techniques ("cold eyes" reviews will be implemented at a later stage). Within each team, volunteering students of each research group inspect each other's laboratories and discuss potentials for improvements as well as highlight exemplary safety procedures. The results from the student inspections are communicated during group meetings and initiate discussions about safety procedures. Furthermore, this program offers a facile route for different groups to communicate about safety and, importantly, learn best practices from each other.