Chemical Safety

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet we are exposed to many hazards we must constantly be aware of in teaching chemistry and the safe use of chemicals. Our building contains acids and bases in a variety of strengths, capable of doing great harm to our bodies and the environment. We have equipment in this building that if used improperly will harm the operator or those near it. Our students work with glassware capable of producing a bad cut if used improperly. We use flammable solvents and poison gases in large quantities, and regularly transport cryogenic liquids from room to room, and we do this with very few accidents. How is this possible? Because of training you receive that makes you aware of the hazards and the consequences of handling something in the wrong way. Being safe requires the right attitude. Remember, the best safety device ever made is sitting on top of your shoulders. Use it! My goal as chemical safety officer is to see every one walk out of this building at the end of your work day injury free. By working together we can continue to do this.

Listed below, in no particular order of importance, are several of the things we need to continue working on to improve safety in the building;


No lab or office should be crowded with books, equipment or furniture to the point that a safe, fast exit can not be made.

Chemical Disposal

We generate a lot of waste during the course of a normal work week. This waste MUST be properly labeled and stored till it can be picked up and disposed of by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) people. Unlabeled waste is automatically categorized as "unknown", and must be analyzed before disposal. This adds greatly to the cost of disposal. Guess who gets to pay for this! That's right, you do. Less money spent on disposal means more to spend on our students.

Personal Protective Equipment

Eye protection is required for all classes, use them every time. Gloves are available for handling hot/cold items and acids. Minimize bare skin, no shorts or open toe shoes. Long sleeve shirt or blouse is recommended. If a student shows up for lab dressed inappropriately they will not be allowed to participate.

Chemical Labeling

All material transferred from bottle to bottle MUST have a label attached to it. Without a label it becomes an unknown to OSHA and can result in a heavy fine for the university.

Violence on Campus

In the wake of incidents on other campuses we must have a plan to deal with violence here. There are two scenarios to deal with; violence in a building other than chemistry, and violence in chemistry. If we are notified of violence on campus, the chemistry building will be locked down in approximately two minutes. No one will be allowed into the building, all students, faculty and staff will be asked to move to an interior hallway and away from doors and windows. Should gunfire or explosion occur in chemistry, leave the building through an exit away from the event and keep moving till safe. If exit is not possible, lock interior doors, turn out lights and seek shelter behind any available solid object. Stay there till an all clear is sounded.

The information above is listed for your safety and those around you. If you have a safety concern please bring it to the attention of Teri Anderson, your Teaching Lab Technician, Dr. Ho or Dr. Whalen, or finally, the Department Administrator who will ensure that the proper authorities are notified of your concerns.

Emergency Action Plan for Clark Hall

An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards. [29 CFR 1910.38(a)] The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. 

Read the Emergency Action Plan for Clark Hall.

Related Resources

The University of California at Berkeley's Chemistry Department Environment, Health and Safety