Workplace Safety Articles and News
Due to the nature of academic work and research, labs often generate many types of hazardous wastes. Volumes for each experiment are normally small. But, there are many individual points of chemical waste generation in an academic institution. Annual student turnover in campus labs makes difficult to maintain a high level of training and accountability.
Danger is inherent when working with flammables and combustible liquids. They are a fuel for fire. According to NFPA, in 2017, a structure fire was reported every 63 seconds in the US. Flammable liquid storage containers can help prevent fires, alleviating a significant danger.
OSHA and the NFPA develop regulations to keep employees safe and limit the risk of fire. Both organizations have created a set of requirements for flammable storage cabinets and containers.
Flammable and combustible are terms used to describe how easily a liquid ignites. While we usually use the term to describe liquids, it is not the liquid that burns – it’s the vapor given off by the liquid. So, what is the difference between flammable and combustible? Flammable liquids burn at normal working temperatures while combustible liquids need heat before they will ignite.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) tracks structural fires caused by hot work. A 2016 report revealed that from 2010 to 2014, hot work caused an average of 4,440 structural fires each year. These resulted in property damage of $287 million and approximately 12 fatalities annually.
Cleaning equipment parts seems like a simple operation without much risk. But, Plant Engineering highlights the hazards of corrosive cleaning solutions. These types of dangerous chemicals top their list of safety hazards to avoid in manufacturing jobs.
55-gallon drums are a versatile and convenient storage method used in many different industries. They store everything from lubricating oils to diesel and hazardous chemicals. While popular and easy-to-use, they also pose some risks.
Laboratories store and handle different chemicals in their daily operation. Some are flammable and some are corrosive, while others are completely inert. One key to laboratory safety is keeping using chemical containers that minimize the risk of spills, fires and toxic vapors. Carboy containers provide these functions.
Mixing incompatible materials together can result in explosions, fires and severe injuries. An article in Lab Manager Magazine reports that improper storage of chemicals accounts for 25 percent of all chemical accidents in labs. The article describes the following examples of two serious lab incidents, both involving nitric acid: