The University Record, November 22, 1999

OSEH issues end-of-year preparation guidelines for researchers

From Occupational Safety and Environmental Health

The Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH) has developed safety guidelines for researchers and other laboratory personnel to ease the year 2000 transition period Dec. 31–Jan. 2. For additional information, contact OSEH, 647-1142 or 763-6937.

  • Identify those reagents that are critical to your operation, the ones you need on-hand and could run out of if shipments were delayed 30–60 days. Consider purchasing extra stock and arranging for storage at the distribution facility during the transition period.

  • Plan to close down ongoing chemical reactions that require mechanical ventilation. Operate on the assumption that the power may be down and that the exhaust ventilation may be out-of-service for a period of time.

  • Turn off equipment to prevent the damage that would be possible if power cycles on and off, if it comes up slowly, or if there is a change in voltage.

  • Remove electrical equipment from environmental rooms. Condensation could occur with a loss of power and could enter equipment.

  • Have flashlights available in rooms without emergency lighting, such as laser labs.

  • Plan ahead to provide for cool-down of diffusion pumps and similar instruments. They should have cooling water pumps shut down.

  • Make plans to reduce and remove your backlog of chemical, radiological and biological waste that is stored in various locations, including fume hoods. Contact OSEH Hazardous Materials (763-4568) as soon as possible to schedule a pick-up.

  • Identify reagents and other research materials that require refrigeration/freezing and could create a safety hazard upon reaching room temperature during an extended power outage (10 hours or more).

    If your laboratory stores radioactive compounds (particularly H3) in freezer storage units, scrape 1-2 ml of ice into liquid scintillation vials and perform analysis with a liquid scintillation counter. If contamination is found, contact OSEH RSS at 764-4420 for assistance in defrosting the unit. This should be done before Dec. 31 to ensure that there is no frost buildup that could melt and contaminate floor surfaces.

  • Do not order and overstock large quantities of hazardous chemicals in your lab unless you have adequate safe storage capacity. OSEH requires that any quantity of flammable liquids more than 10 U.S. gallons be stored in either an approved safety container or in an approved flammable liquid storage cabinet. Contact OSEH at 763-6973 to determine if your laboratory has adequate short-term chemical storage.

  • Do not leave chemical waste bottles uncapped in fume hoods during the transition period unless actively pouring or removing waste from container.

  • Do not operate experimental equipment containing hazardous chemicals during the transition period.

  • Do not bring generators onto University property.