Laboratory Emergency Response
The purpose of this document is to provide a standard set of operating procedures for emergency situations in the lab. Specifically, this procedure addresses medical emergencies, chemical spills, and fires.
2.0 Medical Emergencies1
2.1 Major Medical Emergencies
2.1.1 A major medical emergency is a situation that involves life threatening injuries or medical conditions. Examples include heart attacks, strokes, concussions, serious lacerations, serious burns, and puncture wounds.
2.1.2 Assess the situation. Do not move the injured unless they are in imminent danger of further injury.
2.1.3 If the person is conscious, ask them to tell you what is wrong with them, what hurts, etc. If the person is unconscious, look for obvious signs of injury. If there are any witnesses, ask them for details.
2.1.4 Call 911. Provide the 911 operator with the specific details of the incident including location. Be sure to completely answer all of the operator’s questions.
2.1.5 Remain with the injured. You may administer first aid if you are knowledgeable and willing; however, medical attention should be given by qualified personnel. Do not come into contact with blood, vomit, or other bodily fluids without proper personal protective equipment.
2.1.6 Do not provide or administer any medications. Get out of the way once the emergency personnel arrive.
2.2 Minor Medical Emergencies
2.2.1 A minor medical emergency is a situation that does not involve life threatening injuries or medical conditions. Examples include minor cuts and small burns.
2.2.2 Assess the situation. If necessary, move the injured to a safe location.
2.2.3 Determine the nature of the emergency by asking the injured.
2.2.4 Administer first aid if you are knowledgeable and willing; however, medical attention should be given by qualified personnel. If the injury cannot be effectively treated by administering first aid and the injured is mobile, escort the injured to Student Health Services (110 South Chestatee Street, Suite 100) for treatment by a medical professional. If the injury is sufficiently minor such that the injured party is readily mobile, the injured may proceed to Student Health Services unescorted.
3.0 CHEMICAL SPILLS2,3,4,5,6
3.1 Minor Chemical Spills
3.1.1 A minor chemical spill is less than 1 gallon of a low toxicity chemical or a spill involving less than 20 mL of a highly hazardous chemical (carcinogen, reproductive hazard, or has NFPA/HMIS health rating of 3 or 4).
3.1.2 Alert people in the immediate area of the spill. If necessary, evacuate and secure the area.
3.1.3 Avoid breathing vapors from the spill.
3.1.4 Turn off all ignition and heat sources if the spilled material is flammable.
3.1.5 Gather and review safety information on spilled chemical(s). Review the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for hazard assessment and other pertinent information.
3.1.6 Locate the spill kit. Don the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, suitable gloves, and chemical apron or lab coat.
3.1.7 Confine the spill to the smallest possible area. Neutralize acids or bases with the appropriate neutralization agent. Cover the spill with the appropriate absorbent material.
3.1.8 Collect the residue using the appropriate tools such as a scoop, broom, dust pan, etc. Place the residue in an appropriate disposal container. Contact the Environmental, Health, and Safety Representative for guidance on container choice, labeling, and disposal.
3.1.9 Clean the spill area with water and mild detergent, as necessary. Carefully remove any PPE, place the consumable items in the disposal container, and thoroughly wash hands.
3.1.10 Replenish the spill kit.
3.2 Major Chemical Spills
3.2.1 A major chemical spill is greater than 1 gallon (~ 4 L) of a low toxicity chemical; a spill involving more than 20 mL of a highly hazardous chemical (carcinogen, reproductive hazard, or has NFPA/HMIS health rating of 3 or 4); or an unknown chemical or product.
3.2.2 Alert people in the immediate area of the spill. Immediately evacuate and secure the area. Do not attempt to clean-up a major spill.
3.2.3 If possible, prior to evacuating, turn off all ignition and heat sources if the spilled material is flammable.
3.2.4 If the spill poses a fire hazard or there is already a fire burning, immediately activate the nearest fire alarm and call 911. Otherwise, call the university police at 706-864-1819. Provide the 911 operator or university police with details of the spill including specific location, chemical name (if known), approximate quantity, and if anyone is injured.
3.2.5 While waiting for the fire department and/or ambulance to arrive, attend to any injured or contaminated person, ensuring that they are removed from any additional possible exposure.
3.2.6 Have any personnel who are knowledgeable of the area assist the emergency personnel when they arrive.
3.2.7 Contact the Environmental, Health, and Safety Representative for guidance on cleaning up, packaging, and disposal of any possible waste generated during the emergency.
3.3 Mercury Spills7
3.3.1 Mercury spills should be cleaned up immediately. Isolate the spill area to prevent the mercury from spreading.
3.3.2 Prior to cleaning up any spilled mercury, remove all gold or silver rings, watches, and bracelets. Mercury has the ability to bond with gold and silver.
3.3.3 Collect all needed supplies before the clean-up work is started. All of the supplies will be contained in the Mercury Spill Kit located in the Chemistry Store Room. Don safety glasses, a lab coat, and nitrile gloves (or other impermeable gloves).
3.3.4 Remove the MERCONSPRAYTM from the spill kit, proceed to spray the ambient zone above the spill radius. Spray generously (18-20 pumps) into the air starting at breathing level and working down towards the floor, concentrating on the actual spill itself.
3.3.5 Generously cover all visible mercury with MERCONVAPTM leaving a wide margin for any unseen droplets. Ensure that any cracks in the floor are saturated with MERCONVAPTM to suppress any droplets that may be out of sight.
3.3.6 Open the MERCONTAINERTM, remove the plastic scoop, and clean-up pad. Using the pad, carefully push the mercury droplets, broken glass, and other contaminated debris towards the center of the spill to minimize the mercury surface area. Carefully scoop the mercury and debris into the MERCONTAINERTM along with any liquid remaining on the spill surface. Ensure that all of the mercury is placed in the MERCONTAINERTM along with the plastic scoops and clean-up pad. The MERCONTAINERTM and the plastic scoops may be re-used as long as the MERCONTAINERTM is no more than ½ full, and there is a back-up MERCONTAINERTM for larger spills.
3.3.7 Decontaminate the spill site by re-applying MERCONVAPTM liquid to the spill site and using MERCONWIPESTM or disposable towels, wipe up any residue. Wipe shoes, gloves, and any other contaminated items with MERCONWIPESTM or disposable towels soaked with MERCONVAPTM liquid.
3.3.8 Dispose of used MERCONTAINERSTM and any contaminated items per federal, state, and local laws. Do not incinerate. Contact the Environmental, Health, and Safety Representative for guidance on packaging, labeling, and disposal of any possible waste generated during the spill and cleanup.
3.4 Chemical Spills on the Body
3.4.1 Any chemical that is spilled on or transferred to the skin should be washed off immediately. Flush the exposed area with running water from a faucet, hose, or safety shower for at least 15 minutes.
3.4.2 Remove all contaminated clothing, including shoes if necessary. If the chemical involved is hazardous, any contaminated clothing and shoes will be treated as hazardous waste.
3.4.3 If medical attention is necessary, contact 911 or the university police at 706-864-1819. Provide the 911 operator or university police with details of the incident including specific location, chemical name (if known), approximate quantity, and information regarding the injury.
3.4.4 Contact the Environmental, Health, and Safety Representative for further guidance on any necessary clean-up and waste disposal.
3.5 Chemical Materials Splashed in the Eye
3.5.1 Any chemical that is splashed in the eye should be washed off right away. Immediately rinse the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelid with water, preferably from an eyewash station, for 15 minutes. The eye lid should be held open with the index finger and thumb during the rinsing process.
3.5.2 After rinsing, obtain medical attention by contacting 911 or the university police at 706-864-1819. Provide the 911 operator or university police with details of the incident including specific location, chemical name (if known), approximate quantity, and information regarding the injury. Ideally, 911 or the university police should be called by another individual that is present, while the eye is being rinsed. This will ensure that medical attention arrives in a timely manner.
3.5.3 Remove any contaminated clothing. If the chemical involved is hazardous, the contaminated clothing will be treated as hazardous waste.
3.5.4 Contact the Environmental, Health, and Safety Representative for further guidance on any necessary clean-up and waste disposal.
4.0 LABORATORY FIRES8,9
4.1 Clothing Fires
4.1.1 If an individual’s clothing catches fire, he/she must not be allowed to run, as this can fan the flames leading to more serious burns. Remember, STOP, DROP, and ROLL. If possible, instruct the person to STOP, DROP immediately to the floor, and ROLL in order to extinguish the flames.
4.1.2 Clothing fires can also be extinguished by other methods including wrapping the person in a fire blanket, using the fire extinguisher, and/or using the safety shower.
4.1.3 Obtain medical attention as quickly as possible by contacting 911 or the university police at 706-864-1819. Provide the 911 operator or university police with details of the incident including specific location and information regarding the injury.
4.2 Small Laboratory Fires
4.2.1 Small laboratory fires are fires located in an area of less than one square meter (< 1 m2) that can readily be extinguished with a hand-held fire extinguisher. Examples include benchtop fires resulting from the use of hotplates or Bunsen burners.
4.2.2 Move everyone away from the fire. Have someone activate the fire alarm.
4.2.3 Remove the fire extinguisher from its storage location. Remember, there may be more than one fire extinguisher in the room. Keeping yourself between the fire and the door, pull the pin and point the nozzle at the base of the fire. Squeeze the handle and sweep the nozzle from side to side to extinguish the fire.
4.2.4 If the fire is not successfully extinguished, evacuate the room. After ensuring that everyone is out of the room, close the door upon exiting.
4.2.5 Immediately evacuate the building. Wait for the fire department in a safe location outside of the building. Provide the fire department with as much information about the fire as possible.
4.2.6 Obtain medical attention if anyone is injured.
4.3 Large Laboratory Fires
4.3.1 Large laboratory fires are fires located in an area of greater than one square meter (> 1 m2) that cannot be readily extinguished with a hand-held fire extinguisher. Examples include benchtop fires resulting from the use of flammable solvents, laboratory ovens, or pyrophoric chemicals.
4.3.2 Assist anyone in immediate danger. If they are injured, remove them to a safe location. Have someone activate the fire alarm.
4.3.3 Evacuate the room. After ensuring that everyone is out of the room, close the door upon exiting.
4.3.4 Immediately evacuate the building. Wait for the fire department in a safe location outside of the building. Provide the fire department with as much information about the fire as possible.
4.3.5 Obtain medical attention if anyone is injured.
1"Medical Emergency Procedure", University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://www.library.illinois.edu/administration/services/policies/med_emergency.html,
Accessed on 9/29/2014.
2"Chemical Spill Response Procedures", Department of Environmental Health & Safety, Stony Brook University, accessed on 10/2008.
3"Spill Response", http://www.safety.duke.edu/programs/SpillResponse.htm, accessed on 6/11/2012.
4Lab Safety Supply, BC1, 1st Edition, page 713, 2011.
5"Standard Procedures for Mercury Spills", http://www.delval.edu/pages/environment/C1280/, accessed on 7/5/2012.
6"WPI Chemical Spill Response Procedure", http://www.wpi.edu/offices/safety/chemspill.html, accessed on 6/11/2012.
7EPS Chemicals, Inc., MERCON Mercury Spill Kit 1 Users’ Manual, page 12.
8"Procedures to Be Followed in Case of a Laboratory Fire", Environmental Health and Safety, Columbia University, http://ehs.columbia.edu/LabFireProcedures.html, Accessed on 9/30/2014.
9"Laboratory Fire Procedures", Environmental Health & Safety, Fire Safety, Oklahoma State University, http://ehs.okstate.edu/hazmat/fire-in-lab.htm, Accessed on 9/30/2014.