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Environmental Safety
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Laboratory Safety: Laboratory Equipment

Autoclave | Eyewash | Safety Shower | Fume Hoods


Autoclave users should know the function of all controls and locking mechanisms, as well as the importance of all safety devices. Inexperienced users should use the autoclave under supervision from more knowledgeable personnel.

Proper personal protective equipment should be worn when using the autoclave. This includes a lab coat and gloves that are heat-resistant, as well as adequate eye protection.

Autoclaves should be checked periodically by laboratory personnel to ensure that safety devices are working properly and that all mechanisms are in good condition.

Autoclaves should not be used for flammable or volatile liquids or chemicals.

Operating instructions, safety practices, and spill clean-up procedures should be posted near each autoclave as an easy reference.


Eyewash stations are required in all laboratories where contact with hazardous or corrosive chemicals is possible.

Eyewash stations must be free from obstruction and able to be reached within ten seconds (without having to encounter a locked door). They must provide enough room to allow the eyelids to be held open while the eyes are irrigated.

The on-off valve of the eyewash must be activated within one second, and must remain on, without the use of hands, until intentionally turned off. The eyewash should provide a stream of water of at least 0.4 gallons per minute for a minimum of 15 minutes, and must be able to irrigate and flush both eyes simultaneously.

After the eyewash is used in an accident, the victim should seek medical attention.

Eyewash stations should be flushed at least once per week by laboratory personnel.  Eyewash stations are formally flushed and inspected twice a year.

Lab personnel should know the location of all eyewash stations in their work area.

Safety Shower

Access to safety showers must be free from obstruction (e.g., not blocked by stored items),reachable within ten seconds and not separated by a locked doorway.

Safety showers must be capable of delivering a flow rate of at least twenty gallons of water per minute to the victim's entire body for a minimum of 15 minutes.

When the shower is used in an accident, the victim should remove contaminated clothing, and after use of the shower seek medical attention.

Personnel should know the location and proper use of all safety showers in their area.

Fume Hoods

No fume hood can provide complete safety against all events which might occur in that hood.  For instance, standing at the face of a hood with the sash fully open creates a low face velocity and air currents which may not adequately draw chemicals away from the experimenter. Airborne contaminants with a TLV in the low part per billion range require the greatest level of care. For more ordinary exposures, a properly designed hood in a properly ventilated room can provide adequate protection. However, certain work practices are necessarily in order for the hood to perform capably. The following work practices are generally required; more stringent practices may be necessary in some circumstances.

  1. Conduct all operations which may generate air contaminants at or above the appropriate TLV inside the a hood.
  2. Keep all apparatus at least 6 inches back from the face of the hood. A stripe or removable tape on the bench surface is a good reminder.
  3. Never not put your head within the hood when contaminants are being generated.
  4. Do not use the hood as a waste disposal mechanism except for very small quantities of volatile materials.
  5. Do not store chemicals or apparatus in the hood. Store hazardous chemicals in an approved safety cabinet.
  6. Keep the hood sash closed as much as possible.
  7. Keep the slots in the hood baffle free of obstruction by apparatus and/or containers.
  8. Minimize foot traffic past the face of the hood.
  9. Keep laboratory doors closed where possible.
  10. Do not remove hood sash or panels except when necessary for apparatus set-up; replace sash or panels before operating.
  11. Do not place electrical receptacles or other spark sources inside the hood when flammable liquids or gasses are present. No permanent electrical receptacles are permitted within the hood.
  12. Use an appropriate barricade or shield if there is a chance of explosion or eruption.
  13. Provide adequate maintenance for the hood exhaust system and the building supply system. Use static pressure gauges on the hood throat, across any filters in the exhaust system, or other appropriate indicators to ensure that exhaust flow is appropriate.
  14. If hood sash is supposed to be partially closed for the operation, the hood should be so labeled and the appropriate closure point clearly indicated.

If you have any questions concerning this list or the operation of a chemical fume hood, contact Environmental Safety @ 6-6485.

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