Effective responses to laboratory accidents and emergencies require planning. Laboratory supervisors must ensure that workers know the appropriate response measures for accidents and emergencies, and the locations of spill control materials, personal protective equipment, emergency eyewashes, safety showers, and exits.
In the event of a fire the following protocol should be followed:
- Evacuate: make sure you and others are out of danger.
- Pull the fire alarm.
- Call the Huntingdon Fire Department at 911-2 and Campus Security at 911-1 from a safe location.
- If you have been trained in the use of fire extinguishers, fight the fire from a position from which you can escape, only if you are confident that you will be successful. It is easy to underestimate a fire.
- A fire contained in a small vessel can usually be suffocated by covering the vessel with a lid.
- If your clothing catches fire, drop to the floor and roll to smother the fire. If a co-worker’s clothing catches fire, help the person to the floor and roll him or her to smother the flames. Use a safety shower immediately thereafter.
- Move to the following designated assembly points for science buildings and make sure you are accounted for before leaving the assembly point:
- VLCS: Detwiler Plaza / Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center
- C- wing: Enrollment Center
- B- and P-wings: Astronomy Observatory above Mifflin St.
B. Chemical Spills
In the event of a chemical spill, the individual(s) who caused the spill and their laboratory supervisor are responsible for prompt and proper cleanup. Laboratory supervisors are responsible for having spill control equipment appropriate for the chemicals being handled readily available.
The following are general guidelines for handling chemical spills:
- Immediately alert area occupants and supervisor, and evacuate the area if necessary.
- If the spill is large (more than ~ 5 liters), if there has been a release to the environment, or if there is no one knowledgeable about spill clean-up available, call Campus Security at 911-1 and the Chemical Hygiene Officer at x3555.
- Attend to people who may be contaminated: remove contaminated clothing immediately and flush skin with water for at least 15 minutes.
- If a volatile, flammable material is spilled, immediately warn everyone, control sources of ignition and ventilate the area.
- Protect floor drains or other means for environmental release using spill control socks, pads, and/or absorbents.
- Collect all contaminated materials in plastic pails with lids and label "spill debris involving XYZ chemicals". These materials will probably need to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
- Decontaminate the surface where the spill occurred using a mild detergent and water, when appropriate.
- Report all spills to your supervisor and to the Chemical Hygiene Officer.
Mercury Spills - Guidelines for handling mercury spills include:
- For small spills, such as a broken thermometer:
- Obtain a mercury spill kit:
- in von Liebig: room 2117 (science stockroom), x3694
- in BAC, room B225, x3666
- Wear gloves and safety glasses or goggles.
- Mix mercury absorbent powder with water in plastic cup.
- Apply mixture to spilled mercury, wipe up (note: do not use a domestic or commercial vacuum cleaner).
- Use mercury indicator to determine if residual mercury is present.
- Re-apply mercury absorbent until no detectable mercury is found.
- Place all contaminated materials in sealed heavy plastic bag; attach a hazardous waste label and record contents as "Mercury debris".
- Obtain a mercury spill kit:
- For large spills, contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer for instructions or assistance.
C. Chemical Exposure
The following procedures should be followed in the event of chemical exposure. In all cases, the incident must be reported to the laboratory supervisor as soon as possible, regardless of severity. If an ambulance is needed, call 911-2 for Huntingdon Ambulance/Fire/Police.
- Chemicals on Skin
- Immediately flush with water for no less than 15 minutes (except for Hydrofluoric acid, flammable solids, or > 10% Phenol; see below). For larger splashes, use the safety shower
- While rinsing, quickly remove all contaminated clothing or jewelry. Seconds count: do not waste time because of modesty.
- use caution when removing pullover shirts or sweaters to prevent contamination of eyes.
- Do not use solvents to wash skin
- Special procedures:
- For Flammable solids on skin, first brush off as much of the solid as possible, then proceed as described below.
- For Hydrofluoric acid, rinse with water for 5 minutes and apply calcium gluconate gel, then get immediate medical attention.
- For phenol concentrations > 10%, flush with water for 15 minutes or until the affected area turns from white to pink. Apply polyethylene glycol if available; do not use ethanol. Proceed as described above.
- Chemicals in Eyes
- Immediately flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. The eyelids must be forcibly held open and eyes should be rotated to rinse all surfaces.
- Remove contact lenses while rinsing. Do not lose time removing contacts before rinsing.
- Seek medical attention regardless of the severity or apparent lack of severity.
- Chemical Inhalation
- Close containers and move to fresh air.
- Increase ventilation:
- In VLCS laboratories, push the red Emergency Ventilation button.
- In other laboratories, open windows.
- If symptoms such as headache, nose or throat irritation, dizziness, or drowsiness persist seek medical attention. Carefully explain which chemicals were involved to health care providers.
- Other Exposures
- For accidental ingestion of chemicals, immediately go to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital or call the PA Poison Center at 800-521-6110. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by a health care provider.
- For accidental injection of chemicals, wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.
D. Illness & Injury
In the event of a minor cut or burn, immediate first aid may be given with supplies in first aid cabinets. Additional medical treatment may be obtained at the College Health and Wellness Center or J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital.
In the event of a medical emergency, call 911-2 for an ambulance and notify Campus Security at 911-1.
All laboratory work-related injuries and illnesses must be reported to supervisors and the Chemical Hygiene Officer as soon as possible, regardless of severity. Additionally, student injuries must be reported to Campus Security, and employee injuries (including student employees) must be reported to the Office of Human Resources.