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1: Safety Laboratory Exercise

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    Exercise 1. Safety in the laboratory

    CHEM 173 Physical Chemistry Laboratory

    Profs. Stockwell and Morris

    August 2016


    Students will become aware of laboratory hazards, safety rules, safety equipment and responsibilities.


    The report for this exercise will consist of the following:
    Your quizes for each of the safety modules taken,
    A paragraph on what you find in the Material Safety Data Sheet for Toluene,
    A Material Safety Data Sheet for a compound of your choice,
    A paragraph on what you find in the assigned Material Safety Data Sheet for the compound of your choice,
    A 1-2 page summary on one of the examples of a saftey disaster given below,
    A map of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory and exteriar hallway showing safety equipment and exits,

    Core Safety Rules to be Followed at ALL TIMES

    1. No one, including professors, should work in the laboratory alone.
    2. Proper clothing must be worn.
    3. Use the prescribed amounts of material. Do not waste.
    4. Report broken equipment immediately.
    5. No smoking in the laboratory.
    6. No eating or drinking in the laboratory.
    7. Eye protection - Safety goggles or eyeglasses must be worn at all times.
    8. Reactions that produce toxic vapors must be carried out in the fume hood.
    9. Wash with lots of water in the event of a strong acid or base burn.
    10. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect.

    More General Rules

    Electrical Hazards

    If you ever have to maintain an electrical apparatus or computer it should be unplugged from any power source. It is not safe to simply turn it off. If you must place electrical test probes in a solution use one hand to avoid any possibility of conducting an electric current through your heart.
    Heating mantles, used to heat solutions, are to be plugged into the variable transformers and never directly into the power outlets.

    Laser and Radiation Hazards

    Do not look into the beam of a laser even if the beam has a very low power. Shiny watches and/or jewelry are not okay in a laser lab under any conditions because they may reflect stray radiation into someone’s eyes. Certain types of UV lamps can damage eyes and produce a sunburn effect on the skin.

    Vacuum and High Pressure

    Special glass vessels without cracks or scratches, with thick walls, are preferred when constructing vacuum apparatus. They should be wrapped in tape to prevent glass from flying if the vessel implodes.

    When you place a regulator onto a gas cylinder you want to secure it firmly but not so that you risk twisting the neck off the cylinder. Whenever you turn it on you want to stand away from the direct line between the regulator and the cylinder in case the regulator was installed incorrectly and flies off the cylinder.


    Part 1:

    Take the safety training course at:

    * The course list is at:

    * Take the course: Introduction to Laboratory Safety.

    * Print and attach your certificate of completion to your report.

    * You will have to register but the course is free.

    Part 2:

    Find and describe Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
    Your best source of safety information on chemicals is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS describes the properties of a laboratory or industrial chemical and chemical mixtures. It is concerned with safety and product stewardship. It is especially for workers and safety personnel. It gives important warnings and procedures for safe handling of the substance. The information may include melting and boiling points, hazards, toxicity, health effects, first aid and other useful things such as storage and disposal information. See:

    There are many sources for MSDS. A list is at
    Click at the link marked MSDS Library (Air Liquide) You will come to a page marked "Click here to find the safety data sheet you need" and click here. That will give you a search box.

    Enter the chemical in the search form and perform the search. Try searching for “Toluene” and be sure you click on the menue to set "Begins With". You will come to a page with a number of choices. Select the entrywith just Toluene and write a paragraph describing the entry that you find.

    Do a similar search on another chemical that you believe has some dangers. Write another paragraph describing the MSDA that you find for this chemical. Print the first page of this MSDS that you find and include it with your report.

    Fill free to try the other sources of MSDS on the Oklahoma State University list.

    Part 3:

    Prepare a 1-2 page summary of one of the examples (the topics can be selected randomly) and they will be expected to discuss in detail next week. There are some fundamental chemical concepts in play with both of these types of the explosions and fires that are interesting to explore. The first is a very tragic example of why safety should be followed at all costs.

    UCLA Chemist Fatality:

    Propane plant in Florida:

    Fertilizer plant in Texas

    Part 4:

    Survey the Physical Chemistry Laboratory and the surrounding hall way for safety equipment.

    Make a map on the attached worksheet. Identify the layout of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory and hallway outside in order to draw a map. On the map show the location of the following: fire blankets, fire extinguishers, fume hoods, spill kits, eye wash, safety shower and first-aid kits. There are containers in the lab to throw away all sharp objects, broken glass, and hazardous chemicals. Identify them on the map and use them. The chemical spill kits for acids, bases and solvents are in the hallway along with other fire extinguishers. List these on your map too.


    Map of Howard University Physical Chemistry Laboratory

    with Surrounding Hallway.


    1: Safety Laboratory Exercise is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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