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Emergency Response in Laboratories


Types of incidents

Each lab should consider the types of incidents that could have an adverse effect on people, research efforts, property, and/or the environment. Planning efforts should be aimed at mitigating the impact of the emergency (for example, arranging for critical laboratory equipment to be maintained on emergency power) and should consider the necessary response for each situation.

Response actions

For possible chemical-related incidents, the lab should consider the response actions that will be needed -- such as use of spill pads, additional personal protective equipment, and emergency equipment, as well as reliance on Baylor resources.

Written plan

Where a response will be needed at the time of an emergency, a written plan should be prepared by the lab, describing the actions that will need to be taken.

Preparedness

Each lab should make sure that it has the equipment and other resources available to implement its emergency plans. The following resources will be necessary for all research and clinical labs; if additional resources are needed, the PI and/or Lab Safety Coordinator should identify those resources in the written emergency plan, and make sure that they are available.

Laboratory Emergency Response Guide

Each lab should post an up-to-date copy of the Laboratory Emergency Response Guide near the exit and/or primary telephone for the lab. This guide lists emergency contacts and procedures for various types of incidents.

Laboratory Contact List

Each Laboratory has an emergency information posting outside the lab that includes emergency contact information, as well as hazard information for the lab.

The Laboratory-Specific Chemical Hygiene Documentation must include an emergency contact list for laboratory employees, especially the Principal Investigator and Laboratory Safety Coordinator.

Eyewashes, drench hoses, and safety showers

OSHA (29 CFR 1910.151(c)) requires that, "where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate use."

  • Contact Environmental Health & Safety for more information on requirements for placement and testing of these emergency drench devices.
  • It is very important for laboratory employees to be familiar with the location of the nearest eyewash/drench hose unit and/or safety shower. This must be covered in laboratory-specific training.
  • Use the Eyewash Activation Log or other means to document that regular checks of the equipment have been completed.

Spill response kits

  • Spill kits with appropriate instructions, adsorbents, and protective equipment must be made available in the laboratory so that laboratory employees may safely clean up a minor chemical spill.
  • Mercury spills are never considered minor. They always require emergency response.
  • It is the responsibility of the Laboratory Safety Coordinator to ensure that it is stocked with needed supplies, and that all employees know where spill kits are stored and are trained on how to use them.
  • Laboratory employees generally will not have respiratory protection available to them and should not expect to clean up spills that involve hazardous concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  • Laboratory employees should be familiar with the hazards (including volatility) of the chemicals they work with and should have a sense of the likely need for spill clean-up outside assistance (See Emergency Response section below).

Fire extinguishers

Labs using flammable materials should be equipped with the appropriate fire extinguisher. If there are any questions concerning extinguishers, contact Fire Safety at 710-7468.

Antidotes

Some laboratory chemicals have acute exposure effects that may be relieved or minimized by an antidote. The laboratory should determine if there are any counter-indications. For example, those who work with hydrofluoric acid (HF) must stock calcium gluconate gel to be used as first aid in case of an HF burn. (Medical attention should still be sought immediately for HF burns.)

Emergency Response

Most of the following information is also found in the Laboratory Emergency Response Guide, which should be posted near the main exit and/or main telephone for each lab.

Minor chemical spills (those that the laboratory staff is capable of handling without assistance)

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Avoid breathing vapors from spill.
  • Turn off ignition and heat sources if spilled material is flammable.
  • Put on appropriate personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, suitable gloves, and long-sleeved lab coat.
  • Confine spill to small area.
  • Use appropriate kit to neutralize and absorb acids and bases.
  • Use appropriate kit or spill pads for other chemicals.
  • Collect residue, place in appropriate container, and dispose as chemical waste (Call 710-2900 for waste collection).
  • Clean spill area with water.

Chemical spill on body

  • Flood exposed area with running water from faucet, drench hose or safety shower for at least15 minutes.
  • Remove all contaminated clothing and shoes.
  • If needed, obtain medical care by calling the Baylor Police Department at 911 or 2222 from a campus phone or call 710-2222 from any phone
  • Report incident to supervisor and complete an Incident Report Form.

Hazardous material splashed in the eye

  • Immediately rinse eyeball and inner surface of eyelid with water continuously for 15 minutes.
  • Forcibly hold eye open to effectively wash behind eyelids.
  • Obtain medical attention.
  • Report incident to supervisor and complete an Incident Report Form.

Major chemical spills

  • Alert people in the area to evacuate.
  • Turn off ignition and heat sources if spilled material is flammable.
  • For immediate assistance, contact the Baylor Police Department at 911 or 2222 from a campus phone or call 710-2222 from any phone
  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure, if it is safe to do so.
  • Have a person knowledgeable of the area assist emergency personnel.

Mercury spills

  • For immediate assistance, contact the Baylor Police Department at 911 or 2222 from a campus phone or call 710-2222 from any phone.

Personal Injury

  • All work-related injuries and illnesses, regardless of the severity, must be reported to your supervisor.
  • If needed, obtain medical care by contacting the Baylor Police Department at 911 or 2222 from a campus phone or call 710-2222 from any phone
  • Complete an Incident Report Form.

Fire

  • See your lab site-specific fire plan for emergency procedures related to a fire.

Other incidents affecting property or the environment

  • For EMERGENCIES that may impact building integrity and/or harm people:
    • Evacuate the immediate area. If the entire building needs to be evacuated, activate the building fire alarm.
    • For immediate assistance, contact the Baylor Police Department at 911 or 2222 from a campus phone or call 710-2222 from any phone