Physical Safety

Physical hazards may be present in laboratories and cover a wide range of concerns including the following:

Cuts, Slips, Trips, and Falls. Broken glassware is a frequent cause of cuts in laboratories. Water on the floor, especially around sinks or ice dispensers may cause slips.

Compressed Gases

Although compressed gases may have chemical hazards associated with them, physical hazards include asphyxiation and rupture of the tank.

Non-flammable Cryogens

Liquid nitrogen is the most widely used non-flammable cryogen. Such materials may cause tissue damage or asphyxiation in poorly ventilated areas. Liquid oxygen condensation in vacuum traps may cause explosion.

High Pressure Reactions

Equipment failure can lead to explosion at pressures over one atmosphere.

Vacuum Work

Work in vacuum lines and at subambient pressure includes the danger of glass breakage, implosion, and flying glass particles.

Ultraviolet, Visible, and near-Infrared Radiation

Use of lamps and lasers in the laboratory can cause substanitial eye damage.

Radiofrequency and Microwave Hazards

These occur within the range of 10 kilohertz to 300,000 megahertz. Microwave ovens may cause super heating of liquids. Metals in ovens may cause arcing. Capping of vials in the oven can result in explosion from pressure build up.

Electrical Hazards

Electrical equipment usually found in laboratories have safety features incorporated into their design and construction, but these features should not be defeated. Electrical malfunctions can lead to electrical fires, and may also ignite flammable vapors.

Magnetic Fields

NMR spectrometers and other instruments generate large magnetic fields. While the field strength fall off rapidly with distance, there is evidence that at fields above 50 to 100 gauss ferromagnetic objects moved too close to the magnet may become projectiles aimed at the magnet.

Page Updated 08.06.2012