Safety Rules

Departmental Safety Policies and Recommendations

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).

Peroxide-Forming Reagents. RMS requires that certain peroxide-forming reagents (such as ether) be certified periodically to be peroxide free. When required, test the reagents with peroxide test strips, and report the results to For further information, see the Guidelines for Peroxide Forming Chemicals.

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 ventilated 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 will require special arrangements, such as the installation of a ventilated gas cabinet. Avoid purchasing gas cylinders from non-approved vendors, since they may not accept the cylinders for return (empty or otherwise). For further information, see the Gas Cylinder Safety document.

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

Chemistry Building Evacuation Procedures. When the fire alarm sounds, 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 elevator. Do not reenter the building until authorized to do so. Please review the Emergency Evacuation Plan.

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. Do not turn the building water supply all the way open -- adequate cooling requires only a slow and continuous trickle of water.

Aspirators. Aspirators should be avoided for use with rotary 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.

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, as well as the Auburn RMS Pyrophoric Chemicals Overview.

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.

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.

Water-Reactive Chemicals. Water-reactive materials can react violently or vigorously in contact with water, wet surfaces, or even the moisture in the air. These chemicals may react to give off a flammable gas (such as hydrogen), or a toxic gas (such as phosgene), or spontaneously burn or explode. Water is obviously NOT a good choice for putting out fires caused by water-reactive chemicals. A class D fire extinguisher is designed to be used to fight fires caused by certain water reactive chemicals. For a more detailed list of examples and procedures, refer to the Water-Reactive Chemicals Overview.

Syringes and Needles. Syringes having a simple Luer tip should not be attached to needles for transferring hazardous substances. Instead, use a Luer-Lock syringe and needle combination; it will help prevent the needle from falling off during the transfer. When withdrawing hazardous substances, use a needle long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle; this will make it unnecessary to tip the bottle. Waste needles must be treated as medical waste (even if they were not used for medical purposes) and placed in a waste sharps container. The container should be disposed of by submitting a request to RMS.

Diffractometers and other X-ray sources. All personnel working in a room that houses one of these devices must take in-person training with the appropriate member of the AU radiation safety office  and be in possession of a Certificate of Training. Annual online refresher training is also required. Download the RMS Radiation Safety Manual here.