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Health & Safety: Working With Hazardous Materials

All personnel must complete a WHMIS training course as soon as possible after starting work in the department. This course will introduce you to the requirements of working with hazardous materials.

All hazardous materials containers require WHMIS labels. Check compressed gas cylinders, dewar flasks, safety solvent dispensing cans and reused reagent bottles for labels. Chromic acid cleaning baths, electrophoresis chambers, dry ice buckets, and pesticide spray tanks, for example, all require workplace WHMIS labels. These are available from the Physical Resources Stockroom on Trent Lane.

Regulators must be appropriate for the compressed gas; homemade adapters are not acceptable. Transfilling of cylinders is prohibited, as it is a very dangerous practice. Glass dewar flasks must be protected by outer covers or by applying self-adhesive tape to the outside to protect against flying glass if the dewar is broken.

An up-to-date inventory of all hazardous materials including radioactive and biohazardous materials must be easily accessible to emergency personnel unfamiliar with the laboratory. It must be located near the exit of the laboratory. In addition, a chemicals inventory for each lab should be maintained on the HazChem site, Environmental Health and Safety.

Chemical stock should be appropriate for work currently being carried out in the laboratory. Flammables are to be limited to one day’s supply. Any amount in excess of this must be in approved safety cans, or storage cabinets. Flammables are not to be placed in ordinary domestic refrigerators, or freezers, or incubators. Signage is to be posted on refrigerators and freezers indicating this. (available from Pathobiology Safety Committee and Environmental Health and Safety)

Persons using biohazard materials in the laboratory must be knowledgeable of procedures. Decontamination procedures are to be documented and easily accessible to persons not familiar with the laboratory. “Biohazard” signage and bags are to be used appropriately. Projects must be posted as BioHazardous in a prominent area, usually on the entrance door to the lab.

The inventory and wipe-test records for radioactive materials are to be easily accessible to persons not familiar with the laboratory. Signage must be appropriate and waste stored in proper containers in a secure area. Projects must be posted in a prominent area.