Electrical Hazards

The NMR spectrometer in the lab operate on either 240 volts and have several high-voltage DC components, all of which can be hazardous or fatal if accidental electrocution occurs. To prevent accidents, the following precautions and prohibitions shall apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • No person may access the instruments without proper training and authorization from the NMR facility manager.
  • Extreme caution should be used whenever the instruments are being tuned or otherwise used in a way that makes it necessary to be near the console or magnet.
  • No user shall access the instrument panels or spectrometer consoles unless under the observation and guidance of the LSS and NMR LS.
  • Any accumulation of water around or near the instruments should be reported to the LSS and NMR LS and the wet areas should be avoided to prevent electrocution.
  • Any accidental exposure to electricity must be reported to the LSS and NMR LS.

For further information on electrical hazards see Electrical Safety section.

Cryogenic Liquids

Please consult Cryogenic Safety section procedure for more detailed cryogenic safety information.

Liquid nitrogen and liquid helium are used in the NMR laboratory and both are extremely hazardous. In order to prevent accidental exposure to liquid cryogens, and to avoid asphyxiation in the event of a magnetic quench, the following precautions and prohibitions should apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • Cryogenic liquids in the NMR laboratory should not be used without a training.
  • The the LSS and NMR LS must be notified before using cryogenic liquids in the NMR laboratory.
  • Individuals handling cryogenic liquids in the NMR laboratory and people in the near vicinity should wear protective clothing including lab coats, gloves and eye-protection.
  • NMR laboratory should immediately be evacuated in the event of a magnetic quench (that is, the sudden evaporation of cryogenic liquids in the magnet. See Cryogenic Purge – Quench section instructions.
  • Any accidental exposure to cryogenic liquids must be reported to the the LSS and NMR LS.

Transferring cryogenics

When transferring liquid nitrogen or helium, the following steps should be observed to avoid accidents:

  • Gloves, eye protection, and closed shoes must be worn.
  • Doors should be propped open to increase ventilation.
  • Tanks on wheels must be chocked or held by another person.
  • The transfer must be continuously attended and helium transfers must be done in buddy pairs.

Since the possibility of a helium quench is higher when filling the magnet, and since the transfer involves manual operations, there is a remote possibility that an operator could be rendered unconscious at the time of a quench. Fills must only be done by two operators particularly if a Helium fill is being carried out.

Electromagnetic Radiation

Strong magnetic fields and several sources of electromagnetic radiation are present in the NMR laboratory that may present unique hazards to individuals. The following precautions and prohibitions apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • Users in the NMR laboratory are subject to exposure limits to static magnetic fields like those found in the NMR laboratory.
  • People with pacemakers, defibrillators, or metal surgical implants or prosthetics must stay at least 120 cm away from the magnets at all times.
  • Personal articles such as hairpins or jewelry must be kept away from the magnets at all times.
  • Metal tools, carts, and gas cylinders must be kept away from the magnet at all times.

Glass Tubes and Evacuated Storage Dewars

The following precautions and prohibitions apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • NMR tubes must be handled with extreme caution. They are thin-walled glass and can cause dangerous wounds. Never force an NMR tube into the NMR spinner holder and never force the cap on or off an NMR tube.
  • Broken glass should be cleaned up under the supervision of the LSS and NMR LSand should be disposed of in approved glass waste containers.
  • All injuries related to broken glass must be reported to the LSS and NMR LS.

Chemical Hazards

The following precautions and prohibitions apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • NMR solvents must be handled as specified in the Chemical Safety section.  Because there are no fume hoods in the NMR laboratory, samples requiring a hood for safe handling must be prepared outside of the NMR laboratory.
  • Chemical spills or accidental exposure to NMR solvents must be reported to the LSS and NMR LS (See Chemical Safety, Spill Cleanup Procedures).

Physical Hazards

The following precautions and prohibitions apply to all NMR users and visitors to the NMR laboratory:

  • Cryogenic storage Dewars can also be overturned quite easily. They should never be pulled from the top, but rather from the handles provided.
  • All injuries related to physical hazards in the NMR laboratory must be reported to the LSS and NMR LS.

References and sources for information from the relevant websites and documentation of different universities, NGOs and government agencies used in the preparation of this website are provided at references.