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Laboratory Safety

Important Contact Information

  • Environmental Safety and Health: 215.895.5919
  • Facilities Management: 215.895.1700
  • 24 Hour Call Center Drexel Public Safety: 215.895.2222 or 911
  • Richard Knight, PhD

    Teaching Professor, Associate Department Head, and Undergraduate Advisor
    LeBow 342

Laboratory Safety Training

Everyone working in MSE Dept. Labs is required to undertake appropriate training relating to safety in laboratories. Drexel's Department of Environmental Health & Safety Online Training Site makes this easy via an on-line, self-paced, training program. Everyone must make and take the time to complete this, including any tests included in the program, and to follow all relevant policies, directives and guidelines.

Visit their website and select the "Training" tab on the left hand side of the list along the top of the page. On the next screen, select the "Research Personnel Laboratory Safety Training" menu item and then follow the on-screen directions. You will need to enter your Drexel ID #, which ensures that a record of your having taken the on-line training is established. The Dept. subsequently receives periodic reports of who has, and who hasn't, taken the on-line safety training. Depending on the nature of your research, a few of you may also need to take the "Packaging and Shipping of Biomedical Materials" module.

Safety Training Presentation

The following PowerPoint presentations contain useful supplemental information relating to laboratory safety, including information relating to specialized equipment, such as the thermal spray processes, located in some MSE Dept. labs.

MSE Safety Training Presentation [PDF]

Downloading and review of the above presentation is strongly recommended.

Individual Responsibilities

Some specific individual responsibilities warrant further explanation. These include "chemical waste", radiation safety and secondary labeling.

Chemical Waste

Doing research inevitably generates "waste" chemicals in various forms. These all need to be disposed of in accordance with established protocols, guidelines and regulations. Chemical waste must never be simply thrown into the trash. Empty 1-gallon clear or brown glass bottles should be saved and used to collect liquid "waste" in each lab. Solids should be collected in suitable containers. Do not label these containers as "chemical waste" - only Drexel's Department of Safety & Health can place such a label on these containers, instead label the containers as "Chemicals to be Disposed Of" or "Hazardous Material". Likewise, do not place the date on the hazardous material container. Drexel's Safety and Health Dept. will place a date on the container when they come to collect it. A complete list of all chemicals known to be in the container should be written (in words) on the container label. As a general guideline, do not mix chemicals from different hazard classifications in the same container…use different containers for "mixed organic solvents", "mixed inorganic acids" and "mixed bases" and so on. When a container is full, you legally have 72 hours to fill out a "Chemical Waste Removal Form" to request pick up of the chemical to be disposed of. This can be done online at the Safety & Health Website or by filling out and faxing the appropriate form to Drexel's Department of Safety & Health. Once an official request for a chemical pick-up has been submitted, you have fulfilled your legal obligation in this respect!

Radiation Safety

Any students, staff, faculty or guests whose primary research involves the regular and frequent use of equipment which emits radiation needs to be issued their own film-badge. Within the MSE Dept. this would apply to the X-ray Diffraction (XRD) or MicroCT equipment.

Film badges are obtained through Drexel's Department of Safety & Health. The first step is to fill out and submit the Radiation Worker Registration form. Once this has been processed, a film badge will be issued and should be worn whenever you are using the radiation-emitting equipment. New film badges are issued quarterly and should be collected from the MSE Dept. CHO (Dr. Knight), who will also collect your previous badge for return to Drexel Safety & Health for processing. Radiation dosage reports are issued subsequently.

Secondary Labeling, NFPA Labels & MSDS Sheets

All samples in the labs must be properly labeled so that in the case of an emergency, everyone affected, including emergency personnel who may be responding to an incident -Drexel's Facilities or Public Safety personnel, City fire, police or ambulance personnel - has sufficient information readily available for them to be able to handle the emergency correctly. For example, use of a water-based fire extinguisher may not be an appropriate tool for fighting a fire involving metallic sodium! The Department has developed a label template [PDF] to be used for all chemicals currently in use in the department…please remember to use it! This label should be filled out with the name(s) of the chemicals in words (remember, emergency personnel may not be trained in chemistry!), some valid contact information and the date, and placed under or next to your samples. There is no excuse for having a chemical in this Department that is not labeled.

Containers of chemicals should also all have a properly filled out NFPA label attached to them, as detailed in the MSE Safety Training 6-06.ppt presentation. The NFPA label assists in extinguishing fires and/or during other accidents that could put someone, maybe you, at risk. The Dept. CHO has a limited supply of NFPA and other hazard warning labels (Toxic, Flammable, Acid etc.).

Important information pertaining to the safe handling, storage and use of all chemicals is detailed on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) [Insert hyperlink to MSDS presentation] for each chemical. MSDS sheets also contain information on first-aid and subsequent medical treatment in the event of an accident or exposure to the chemical. Each lab. is required to maintain a prominently labeled folder containing the MSDS sheets for all of the chemicals in the lab., arranged alphabetically and located in a prominent, easily-accessible location, such as immediately inside the door. This folder must be updated whenever new chemicals are brought into the lab.

Drexel Laboratory Safety Documents

Department Forms

Standard Operating Procedures

Useful Links