contingency plans to deal with the unexpected so that people are not hurt, facilities are not damaged, and the public and the environment are protected. But unexpected situations can develop despite the best experiment planning. With good contingency plans, the worker might be able to change reaction conditions or procedures to obtain valuable information from experiments that do not proceed as expected, while, at least, preventing them from becoming harmful accidents.
A complete assessment should be made of the equipment proposed for the experiment to highlight any associated hazards. The location of the equipment within the work space should also be noted. The equipment hazards to be considered include those associated with reactors, tubing, relief devices, pumps, refrigerators, glassware, heat sources, electrical devices, lasers, ultrasound generators, photochemical equipment, compressed gases, and equipment for working at temperature extremes. Consideration should be given to whether proper maintenance procedures have been followed and documented for all equipment. The proper use of personal protective equipment such as aprons, face shields, gloves, safety glasses, and respirators should also be planned. Certain equipment will require the use of warning signs, lights, barriers, equipment monitors, alarms, and safety interlocks, particularly when temperature extremes, pressurized gases, or extremely hazardous substances are involved. The use of certain materials might also require industrial hygiene monitoring and/or special occupational health reviews.
Various institutions and local, state, and federal agencies may require certain considerations, documentation, or training for some laboratory operations, particularly (but not restricted to) those involving especially hazardous materials, equipment, or procedures. The laboratory worker and supervisor are responsible for understanding and ensuring compliance with such mandates, but they need to be aware that not all hazards are regulated and not all regulations are sufficient and that other safety measures may be necessary.
Environmental and waste disposal issues for source reduction, waste minimization, and recycling of materials must be considered in any experiment plan. The chemical composition of all products and waste materials generated by the experiment should be considered, and appropriate handling and disposal procedures for each of these materials should be evaluated in advance. Careful attention to regulatory requirements is essential for waste disposal. Special issues to consider include the frequency and amount of waste generated, methods to minimize waste, steps to neutralize waste or render it nonhazardous, procedures for dealing with unstable waste or waste that requires special storage and handling, and the compatibility of materials being accumulated. During the planning stage, particular attention should be given to the minimization of multihazardous waste, such as waste that represents both a chemical and a biological hazard.
Precautions should be taken to minimize the release of hazardous chemicals to the environment. A fume hood is a safety device and not a waste disposal facility. Therefore, fume hoods should not be used to dispose of volatile hazardous materials—to do so could cause toxic materials to be released. Special ventilation and exhaust systems, scrubbers, filters, or some other control equipment for discharges to the air or chemical sewer systems may be required under some circumstances.
The facilities proposed for an experiment should be assessed completely to identify any associated hazards and to determine if the facilities are adequate for the purposes of the experiment being planned. The location of the equipment in the work space relative to the location of emergency response facilities should be considered. Work with hazardous chemicals should be carried out with fume hoods, elephant trunks, and glove boxes for some operations. The use of certain materials might also require industrial hygiene monitoring and/or special occupational health reviews. General consideration of the type of work space, its layout, and infrastructure may be appropriate. Special needs for bench space, storage, ventilation, shielding, and so forth might also affect the planning of the experiment.
Regulations are an intrinsic part of modern laboratory work that cannot be separated easily from other matters and should be considered at each step of experiment planning. It is only prudent for laboratory workers and supervisors to ensure regulatory compliance in conducting laboratory experiments. However, the responsibility of leadership goes beyond compliance to the protection of individual laboratory workers,