Departmental safety policies and recommendations: (draft of 1/26/12)

Below is a partial list of departmental lab safety policies and recommendations. This information is intended to supplement the policies imposed by the campus department of Risk Management and Safety (RMS).

1)  Peroxide-forming reagents.

2)  Toxic gas cylinders.

3)  Safety training.

4)  Chemistry Building evacuation procedures.

5)  Water cooling hoses.

6)  Aspirators.

7)  Handling of pyrophoric reagents.

8)  Shock-sensitive compounds.

9)  Heating baths. 


1)  Peroxide-forming reagents: RMS requires that certain peroxide-forming reagents (such as ether) be certified periodically to be peroxide free. Peroxide test strips are available from Lynn in the main Chem. office. For further information see the RMS website at

2)  Toxic gas cylinders: Proper handling is contingent on the specifics of the individual gas. However, at a minimum the cylinders should be stored in the hall closets or (for lecture bottles) in the ventillated cabinets under the hoods. When in use, lecture bottles and other small cylinders with toxic gas may be used in the hoods. Larger toxic gas cylinders may be used in conjunction with the gas plumbing installed in the hall closets; otherwise, special arrangements (e.g., ventillated gas cabinet) must be installed. Avoid purchasing gas cylinders from non-approved vendors, since they may not accept the cylinders for return (empty or otherwise)."

3)  Safety training: No lab keys will be issued to lab workers until they have completed the safety training provided by RMS.

4)  Chemistry Building evacuation procedures: When the fire alarm rings, evacuate the building as soon as possible, taking appropriate measures to ensure that experiments in progress are safely brought to a halt.  Exit the building via the stairwells, not the elevators. Do not reenter the building until authorized to do so.

5)  Water cooling hoses: When practical, water cooling systems should be set up with a recirculating cold-water bath to minimize the damage done when a water leak occurs. If the hoses are connected to the building water supply, the connections must be secured tightly (wired on), and the drain lines must be anchored securely into the drains.

6)  Aspirators. Aspirators should be avoided for use with rotory evaporators and suction filtration; this will help minimize the chance of a building flood, and it will help prevent the pollution of building waste water. Instead of aspirators, use of reduced-pressure vacuum pumps is recommended.

7)  Handling of pyrophoric reagents.  Pyrophoric reagents are extremely hazardous and should not be handled without proper precautions.  See the Aldrich Technical Bulletins 134 and 164.

8)  Shock-sensitive compounds. Certain classes of compounds may reasonably predicted to be shock sensitive (explosive). Among these are the perchlorates. When dealing with such compounds take appropriate precautions. Their explosions occur unpredictably and can be very dangerous. A widespread rule for perchlorates is never to isolate more than 100 mg of product. Even 100 mg can explode, causing the loss of eyes, fingers, etc.

9)  Heating baths: Hydrocarbon-based oil (mineral oil, pump oil, etc) baths can get too hot and catch fire. Keep them below 200 °C. Use a thermometer! And don't get it so hot that the oil starts smoking! Use a stir-bar for even heating. Silicone oil can be used up to 300 °C. When oil baths must be left unattended, a thermocouple sensor that protects against overheating should be used.  For further information on oil baths see page 158 of chapter 7 of Prudent Practices.