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Lab Health and Safety

Provide Fire Extinguishers, Safety Showers, Eye Wash Fountains, First Aid Kits, Fire Blankets, and Fume Hoods in each Lab

Not only should these items be provided but they should be test or checked monthly.

James A. Kaufman

 Not only should these items be provided but they should be test or checked monthly.

Fire extinguishers need to be appropriate to the type of fire. Type A fires form an Ash. A water extinguisher is for fires involving burning wood or paper. Type B fires consist of Boiling liquids like oil and grease. Carbon dioxide is an extinguisher for B type fires. Type C fires carry an electric Charge. Halon extinguishers and dry chemical powders are to be used here. Active metal fires are type D. Sand and special powders can be used on these fires.

The extinguishers should be mounted at the correct height and designated with a sign above to indicate the location. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z-358.1-1991 standard provides design and performance recommendations for safety showers and eye wash fountains.
Safety showers should provide water at a rate of 30 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes. The valve should be a single-action level which stays on until it is pushed off.
Eye wash fountains should have a similar type actuating lever. The flow rate should be 1.5 gallons per minute for eye wash only and 4.0 gallons per minute for eye wash/face wash combination devices.
First aid kits need to be specified by the consulting physician. Employees should be trained in the appropriate use of the materials provided. First aid and CPR courses can be offered.
Fire blankets are very useful. They can be used as a temporary stretcher, to cover up after disrobing in the safety shower, to extinguish a fire on equipment or a person (while he or she is doing the "Stop, Drop and Roll", to prevent shock, and as a pillow for comfort to an injured person.
Fume hoods are your most important protection against toxic volatile chemicals. An airflow of 80 to 120 lfpm is recommended.
The OSHA Lab Standard require that employers indicate in the written chemical hygiene plan how these devices will be maintained and who is going to be responsible to checking and testing them. Monthly inspections are appropriate.
The inspection process is an opportunity to involve employees, managers, and
students. Make them all part of the inspection procedure on a rotating basis.