Safeguards should be set around an unattended operation in the lab. If it is unavoidable to perform an unattended operation, lab users are asked to stick to the guidelines explained below.
For unattended operations involving highly hazardous materials, a light should be left on and an appropriate warning/explanation sign should be placed on the laboratory door, or in a conspicuous place that could be easily seen without putting someone else in danger in the event of an emergency.
Warning signs for unattended operations should include information regarding:
- The nature of the experiment.
- The chemicals used.
- Potential hazards (electrical, heat, etc.)
- The name of the person conducting the experiment and a contact number. A secondary name and contact number is also recommended.
It is important to consider potential risks of hazard that may take place when leaving an experiment unattended. Some precautions that may be taken include:
- Using secondary containments to prevent spills.
- Using safety shields and keeping the hood sash closed to contain chemicals and glass in case an explosion occurs.
- Removing idle chemicals or equipment or items that has the potential to react with the chemicals or other materials being used in the experiment.
- Using automatic shutoff devices to prevent accidents such as loss of cooling water shutoff, over-temperature shut off, etc.
- Using emergency power outlets for those pieces of equipment that could be negatively affected in the event electric service or other city utilities are interrupted.
Setting up procedures and policies for unattended operations is LS’s or responsible faculty member’s responsibility. Every lab user working under corresponding faculty member’s supervision should follow these procedures and policies.
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.