Department of Chemistry

Laboratory Attire and Conduct in and out of the Lab

In the instructional laboratories, the Chemistry Department requires that if one is to wear shorts or short skirts that do not cover the knees, a lab coat or lab apron must also be worn. Open-toed shoes are not allowed in the lab. The Chemistry Department does not require any particular clothing for teaching assistants except that cited above, but we encourage your consideration of these points:

  • You should dress neatly. You will have a definite psychological advantage in quickly establishing control of your class if they can distinguish you from their colleagues.
  • Protective clothing is often advantageous; you may wish to routinely wear a lab coat in your classes.
  • Your students will look upon you as a member of the faculty. You are to conduct yourself (in and out of the lab) in a professional manner. Serious violations may result in dismissal without previous warnings.

Laboratory Safety Regulations in Teaching Laboratories

Major safety concerns are listed below but others may arise; if so, consult with your instructor or course coordinator as early as possible. Everyone involved with the teaching of laboratories is required to attend announced training sessions; to possess knowledge of protocol for preventing, treating and reporting laboratory related injuries; to be familiar with simple emergency first aid methods and emergency evacuation procedures in accordance with Departmental and University guidelines and rules. Many of the department's "Laboratory Safety Regulations" for research laboratories also apply to the teaching laboratories and vice versa.

Laboratory instructors, departmental staff, laboratory supervisors, and course coordinators are all responsible for the enforcement of course, departmental and university safety standards. Interpretation of the rules to be followed by everyone is that of the course coordinator and the departmental safety office. Any time after the first session of the semester, anyone who does not comply with the safety regulations must, without further warning, be prevented from remaining in the laboratory or laboratory area.

In coordinated courses, it is the TA's responsibility to conduct the lab as presented by the laboratory textbook being used and the course coordinator. It is the students' responsibility to conduct the experimentation as presented by the laboratory textbook being used and/or the instructions given by the TA. If there are practices that one believes to be unsafe, he or she should bring them to the attention of the instructor, the faculty supervisor or course coordinator, but no one is to modify the experiment unless directed to do so by the course coordinator.

  1. Supervision
    Never work in a chemical laboratory without proper supervision. Your best protection against accidents is the presence of a trained, conscientious supervisor who is watching for potentially dangerous situations.
  2. Eye Protection
    In the teaching laboratories, safety glasses (goggles) of an approved type must be worn by all persons in the room at all times that anyone is working with or transporting glassware or conducting any experimental work. Experimental work includes many simple tasks such as transporting chemicals, cleaning glassware or work area, obtaining quantitative measurements that involve chemicals, etc. Light-weight "visitors' shields" or prescription glasses with side shields are not suitable for use in the instructional laboratories.
  3. Protective Clothing
    Proper protective clothing must be worn by all persons in the room at all times that anyone is working with or transporting glassware or conducting any experimental work. Exposed skin is particularly susceptible to injury by splattering of hot, caustic, or flammable materials. Students and instructors must be protected from their necks to below their knees. This requirement includes no shorts, no short skirts, no sleeveless garments, and no bare mid-riffs. Long lab coats or aprons are required if shorts or short skirts are worn. Makeshift coverage, such as shirts being used as aprons, paper taped over the knees, etc., is not considered to be suitable. Tight fitting clothing, long unrestrained hair, clothing that contains excessive fringe or even overly loose-fitting clothing may be ruled to be unsafe.
  4. Protective Footwear
    No sandals, no open-toed shoes, and no foot covering with absorbent soles are allowed. Any foot protection that exposes any part of one's toes is unsuitable for wear in the laboratory.
  5. Bicycles, Roller-skates, etc.
    Bicycles are not allowed in the buildings where chemistry labs meet. Using skate boards, in-line skates, roller-skates, and unicycles is also not allowed. If skates, etc., are brought inside the building, they may not be stored by laying them on the floor.
  6. Food and Drinks in the Labs
    Food and drinks are never allowed in the labs. This includes all visible insulated water bottles or mugs, containers of water or flavored drinks, containers of ice intended for consumption, etc. If a food or drink container is empty or unopened, it must be inside a backpack, etc., and out of sight.
  7. No Unauthorized Experiments
    "Simple" chemicals may produce undesired results when mixed. Any experimentation not directed by the laboratory manual or approved by your instructor will be considered to be unauthorized experimentation.
  8. Removal of Chemicals and Equipment from the Laboratory
    The removal of chemicals and/or equipment from the laboratory is strictly prohibited and is grounds for severe disciplinary action.
  9. No Horseplay
    Horseplay and pranks are prohibited in instructional chemistry laboratories.