SAFETY EQUIPMENT FOR STORAGE AND HANDLING OF CHEMICALS IN UNIVERSITY LABORATORIES
Free (open access)
345 - 356
JOSE MORA, JOSE SIBAJA, WENDY UMAÑA, GILBERTO PIEDRA, OSCAR MOLINA
Persons who work in scientific laboratories must deal with different types of hazards. The main objective of laboratory safety operations is the prevention of accidents and emergencies. However, the potential for accidents is real, and when they take place, good safety equipment and adequate emergency protocols can help to minimize injuries or damages. The main purpose of this research was to determine the quantity of laboratories that had in their facilities any safety materials and equipment, in order to evaluate the necessity to install new equipment according to; 1) the descriptions of operations and tasks related to the handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials in the laboratories, and, 2) a list of potentially hazardous substances, including toxic chemical, biological, and physical agents that might cause harm to a facility´s employees. In order to get such information, a diagnosis of health and safety equipment and material availability, and their management in academic instructional and research laboratories was carried out in 91 laboratories. According with the results obtained, the hazardous products stored in biological and clinical laboratories are mainly infectious products. In chemical laboratories, flammable substances are the most common hazard chemicals stored, and physical laboratories mainly stored corrosive chemical products. In general, the majority of flammable, toxic, corrosive and explosive products are localized in chemical laboratories. Most of the laboratories inspected did not have adequate storage facilities for flammable, toxic, explosive and corrosive products. Some had “solvent rooms” with quite inadequate facilities, and in the absence of adequate solvent cabinets, fume hoods or open shelving were used for storage. The inspection and training processes, as well as the purchase and installation procedures used, made the laboratories safer through the use of best practices and protective equipment. However, the restricted space in laboratories also makes it difficult to install some safety equipment. The need for, and possibility of installation of, other systems such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, and emergency exits must be evaluated. Careful handling and use of chemicals, together with the availability of adequate and proper safety equipment, and the application of good practices in housekeeping and personal hygiene, will greatly reduce the probability and severity of injuries.
safety equipment, laboratory, chemical substances, storage, hazardous materials and products, university, Costa Rica