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1.2: Safety

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    General Information

    Chemical Safety is one of the most important topics covered in the general chemistry laboratory. There are two different types of goals in the safety curriculum. First are the obvious goals of keeping the students safe during the lab and not creating hazards for others. The second is to develop the proper protocols and procedures for performing experimental activities so that when the student enters advanced courses or the work force, they have the skills needed to function in a safe and prudent manner. In fact safety is the biggest complication to running an online lab where students will be working at home, sometimes alone and in their kitchens.  So you will see two components to the safety content of this class, those associated with maintaining a safe laboratory experience at home, and those with teaching you the safe operating procedures you would have learned if you were at a university laboratory.

    Chemical Hygiene Plan

    Every university has a CHP (Chemical Hygiene Plan) as required by OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.1450 and a CHO (Chemical Hygiene Officer) who is responsible for its implementation, and UALR's CHP can be found at this Facilities Management Web Page. Within the CHP are a set of standard SOPs (Safe Operating Procedures) that represent the minimum safe practices for the handling of hazardous chemicals. Every research lab at the university is required to develop and maintain SOPs for the laboratory practices that are performed within their labs, and here is a link to the template for developing laboratory specific SOPs.  The CHP also defines the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) needed to perform work in a laboratory, and in the university teaching laboratory the instructor would be responsible for ensuring students abide by the established SOPs, and wear proper PPE, like safety glasses and closed toe shoes (no flip-flops in the chemistry laboratory), and do not perform any unauthorized experiments. Unfortunately, it will be impossible for an instructor to ensure students abide by the SOPs in an online course where lab work is being performed remotely, and thus for reasons of safety we will not be able to perform many of the experiments that could be done remotely in a kitchen.  

    Chemical Safety Resources

    Prudent Practices

    The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences  has published a book "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory" that can be downloaded for free and has a wealth of information on chemical safety, including a copy of OSHA's Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450).  There is also an accompanying zip file of a CD that contains Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries (LCSS) and additional information.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): NRC Prudent Practices in the Laboratory 


    UN GHS

    OSHA's laboratory standard is actually integrated into the United States implementation of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and the 8th edition can be downloaded as a PDF.  Within the GHS are the requirements for Safety Data Sheets (SDS) which have superseded the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) that are required for any chemical transported or sold within the US.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): On left is an image of the 2019, 8th edition of the UN GHS and on right are the 16 GHS mandated categories for chemical SDS.  


    MSDS HyperGlossary

    The MSDS hyperglossary is a glossary of terms used in SDS and MSDS sheets, and the demystifier is a web tool developed by Dr. Toreki of Interactive Learning Paradigms almost 20 years ago parses SDS and MSDS sheets, connecting them to the definitions within the hyperglossary. The following YouTube demonstrates how to use the MSDS/SDS demystifier.


    PubChem LCSS

    The National Institute of Health's (NIH) National Library of Medicine's (NLMPubChem have developed LCSS that model the LCSS of the NRC, but extract data from multiple chemical compound databases. As of May 2020 there are LCSS for 141,993 chemical substances that can be obtained through PubChem.  This is a very valuable resource for finding safety information on chemicals.

    COVID-19 Pandemic Issues

    To complicate matters this course is being taught in an online environment where students may need to purchase items directly through a store, or through an online service. Students are expected to follow CDC guidelines when in public, which includes covering your mouth and nose when in public. The following YouTube went viral (no pun intended) and if you have not seen it, you may want to watch and think about it.  The last thing you need to do is catch COVID-19 because you had someone deliver supplies, and they coughed on the box.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    UALR Online Lab Material

    For this lab we will be using Google Classroom. If you already familiar with it - great! If not, don't worry, it is very easy to navigate. There are two types of assignments that you could encounter during this online lab: group assignments and individual assignments. You can learn some more about each type below.

    Group Assignments

    In this lab, most of the work you will do during the lab will be a group assignment. For the group assignments, you will be divided into Zoom Breakout Rooms. Each group will have a shared Google Doc that all group members have access to and can edit at the same time. Each student is required to submit their copy of the group assignment by the due date to get credit. For group assignments, your participation levels will be evaluated by each of your group members to ensure you are all working together. Your participation counts towards your overall grade! It is important to attend the full lab and interact with your group.

    Individual Assignments

    In this lab, individual assignments will include Pre-Lab Assignments, Post-Lab Problem Sets, and some In-Lab Assignments. Each person will have their own copy of the assignment to work on. You are welcome to discuss the problems in the individual assignments with your group members, but the final answer has to be written in your own words. Each student is required to submit their individual assignments by the due date to get credit.

    Lab Procedures

    Safety Agreement

    You will need to sign the safety agreement. It is a standard procedure for all students who are working in the lab. The agreement that you will be introduced to during this safety lab is the same agreement you would have signed if you were taking an in-person lab, but there are a few points that were added to ensure your safety during this remote lab. Your safety is our number one priority during this lab. Make sure you understand every single statement and if you have any questions or concerns feel free to ask for clarification. 

    This is a preview only. You will be able to find your assignment to work on in Google Classroom.

    Interactive Element


    Safety Video

    While you will not be in a physical laboratory doing experiments this semester, it is still important to introduce you to proper lab safety protocols. You are required to watch this video and answer the questions of the Safety Video Quiz in Google Classroom on your own. This will be an individual assignment for you to complete by the due date in your Google Classroom. 

    While this video covers everything you need to know about lab safety, we wanted to show you one of the labs at UALR. Due to COVID-19 you will be taking this class at home, but it is important that you are familiar with the setup for your future labs.

    UALR lab.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): UALR lab

    Let's take a closer look at the eyewash. To operate the eye wash open the dust covers and push the handle located immediately to the right from it.  Just in case some debris has settled on the water spout you should always flush out the water from the nozzle before flushing your eye with it.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Eye wash

    When you start working in a lab make sure you know where all the safety equipment is located and how to use it. 

    Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Safety shower


    Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\): First aid wool blanket and fire extinguisher 

    Always remember to dispose of chemicals in the way indicated in your lab manual. In the lab you will find waste jars labeled for each experiment.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\): Chemical Hazardous Waste jar

    Always remember to ask your instructor if you're not sure about something!


    Never Work Alone in the Lab

    Although we will not be doing in-person experiments, we will mimic being in a lab together by working on assignments in Zoom. Most of these will be Group Assignments and you will also be graded on your participation. Therefore, it is important for you to turn on your cameras and get to know your group members. Please watch this video to understand why you should never work in a lab on your own.


    SDS Worksheet

    Using information provided on this page, complete the SDS Worksheet. This is a group assignment where you collaboratively develop this in a Google Doc within your Google Classroom. You will find this assignment in your Google Classroom. Use MSDS HyperGlossary to answer the questions asking for definitions.

    This is a preview only. You will be able to find your assignment to work on in Google Classroom.

    Interactive Element


    Contributors and Attributions

    Robert E. Belford (University of Arkansas Little Rock; Department of Chemistry). The breadth, depth and veracity of this work is the responsibility of Robert E. Belford, You should contact him if you have any concerns. This material has both original contributions, and content built upon prior contributions of the LibreTexts Community and other resources, including but not limited to:

    • Elena Lisitsyna

    This page titled 1.2: Safety is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Robert Belford.

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