Chemistry Department Student Safety Program

  1. INTRODUCTION
    This program is designed to minimize exposure of students to potentially hazardous situations in courses offered by the Department of Chemistry.

  2. SCOPE
    This program applies to all courses offered by the Department of Chemistry that are listed in the University of Nevada Course Catalog, including undergraduate research and special topics courses, that might expose students to potentially hazardous situations. The requirements of this program are directed toward students who are not employed by the University of Nevada. Any student employees of the University of Nevada working in the Chemistry Department are covered by the requirements of the University of Nevada Chemical Hygiene Plan, and other University of Nevada Safety Programs directed toward employees.

  3. POTENTIAL HAZARDS IN CHEMISTRY COURSES
    All chemicals have a certain degree of potential hazard. Therefore, working with chemicals (household, industrial or otherwise) is considered an inherently hazardous situation. Through proper instruction and experience, most students have learned to work with many other inherently hazardous situations, such as riding a bicycle or driving an automobile. The goal of this program is to minimize exposure to as many hazards as possible, and to provide the proper instruction and supervision to permit students to safely handle potentially hazardous situations that are a necessary part of a course.

    In addition to exposure to chemicals, there are other potentially hazardous situations in Chemistry courses. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, cuts from glassware, burns from handling hot items or using heating devices, use of electrical devices, use of certain mechanical equipment, and exposure to non-ionizing radiation (e.g., lasers). Students who have disabilities, know allergies to, or exacerbated by, specific chemical exposure, or who are pregnant are advised to notify the faculty instructor so that appropriate accommodation can be made. Undergraduate senior thesis research (CHEM 495 and 496) and special problems (CHEM 292 and 392) or independent study (CHEM 490) laboratory courses may entail a variety of other hazards related to the specific project.

  4. INSTRUCTION
    Students have a right to know about hazardous situations that may exist in any course offered by the Chemistry Department. It is the responsibility of the faculty instructor in any particular course to assure that students are so informed, and that proper instruction is given in order to handle the situation safely. Any course that involves the use of hazardous materials or hazardous equipment, or other hazard to the student, will devote some time to instruction in safe handling, use, or procedures to follow. This instruction will be documented in the syllabus for the course, with an indication of the amount of time devoted to such safety instruction. The required information and instruction may be given by the faculty instructor, a laboratory coordinator, a teaching assistant, or a combination of these. Anyone delivering instruction related to hazardous situations will be a University of Nevada employee or approved by the university. The instruction will be both written and oral and may be given in either or both the lecture and laboratory portions of a course. Any time safety instruction is presented in a course, attendance will be required. Whoever presents the instruction, along with the faculty supervisor of the course, is directly responsible for the safe use of chemicals, hazardous equipment, and materials in their class. Other responsibilities of the instructor actually present include:

    1. Enforcing laboratory or classroom safety standards.
    2. Correcting practices and conditions that may result in personal injury.
    3. Notifying his/her immediate supervisor, the Chemistry Departmental Office, and the Departmental Chemical Safety Officer of any accident or incident which results in hazardous chemical exposure or personal injury to any student, employee, or themselves, during the course of their instruction. Exposure to the environment by chemicals or other hazardous materials, floods, fires, hood failures, and loss of water, steam, or electrical services should also be reported.
    4. Setting a good example by using proper safety equipment and procedures as specified by the Chemistry Department and/or the University.
    5. Recognizing emergencies which are life threatening and immediately calling 911 as well as responding in an effective way that is within the capabilities and training of the instructor or any other fellow employees present at the time.
    Student Instruction and Training

    The amount and extent of instruction on safety will depend on the particular course. Any laboratory manual or handouts used in any undergraduate laboratory course must indicate the existence of the specific hazards associated with an experiment as part of the written procedure. Any manual or handouts lacking this information as an integral written part of the procedure must be supplemented with the necessary information.

    A general document, "Safety Information for Students", will be distributed or be made available to all students taking undergraduate chemistry laboratory classes.

    If a modified safety information document is desired by instructors in any courses, it must be submitted to the Departmental Safety Committee for approval. Any modified safety document must cover the following topics as a minimum, in addition to written precautions for each experiment:

    1. Goggles and other personal protective equipment requirements.
    2. Cuts and other injuries involving blood.
    3. What to do in case of other accidents.
    4. List of common chemical label definitions.
    5. Location and proper use of eyewashes, safety showers, fire alarms, telephones, and fume hoods.
    6. Location and purpose of SDSs.
    7. Awareness of the University of Nevada and Departmental Student Safety Programs (i.e., Chemical Hygiene Plan, Laser Safety, Radiation Safety, etc.).
    8. Waste minimization and proper waste disposal.
    Students enrolled in CHEM 292 or 392 (special problems) or CHEM 490 (independent study) involving laboratory work or in CHEM 495 or 496 (undergraduate senior thesis research) must fulfill the same minimum safety training requirements as for employees, as described in the University of Nevada Chemical Hygiene Program.

    Additional safety instruction needed for any particular course will be the responsibility of the faculty instructor in charge of the course. This instruction will be given either by the instructor in charge, or by a laboratory coordinator or teaching assistant who has been properly trained by the instructor in charge of the course. The instructor should consider, as a minimum, whether or not any additional or modified training is required in the following areas:

    1. A familiarity with hazards (chemical and physical) associated with the laboratory or classroom exercise.
    2. Instruction in proper procedures for:
      1. Safety precautions
      2. Waste minimization
      3. Waste disposal
      4. Emergency response related to:
        1. injuries
        2. spills and use of spill kits
        3. fires
        4. laboratory evacuation
        5. notification of appropriate individuals and offices
        6. record keeping
    The instructor in charge of the course must also consider the need for any special safety equipment, additional personal protective devices, and additional SDS.

  5. SUPERVISION
    No undergraduate student should work alone in a laboratory with hazardous chemicals or hazardous apparatus.

    In all lower division laboratory sessions students using hazardous chemicals or hazardous apparatus shall be constantly supervised by the faculty member in charge of the course, the laboratory coordinator, and/or one or more properly trained teaching assistants. If for any reason constant supervision cannot be maintained in these laboratories, then the use of the hazardous chemicals or apparatus must cease until supervision can be reestablished.

    In CHEM 423 (physical chemistry), 424 (thermodynamics and kinetics), 432 (inorganic), 435 (chemical synthesis), 444 (organic structure determination), and 455 (instrumental analysis) laboratories constant supervision is strongly recommended. In CHEM 495 and 496 (undergraduate senior thesis research), CHEM 292 and 392 (special problems), or CHEM 490 (independent study), the level of supervision will depend upon the degree of the hazards involved and experience of the student. In any case, in all of these upper division laboratory courses, the faculty member in charge of the course is directly responsible for defining the level of supervision required to assure the safety of the students in the course and to ascertain that any teaching assistants involved have the proper training and experience to conduct the laboratory sessions safely.

  6. EMPLOYEE TRAINING
    All employees delivering instruction related to hazardous situations must have completed the UNR General Laboratory Safety Workshop provided by the EH&S department. They must also have completed the laboratory specific safety training provided by the General Chemistry Coordinator, read the Safety Information for Students in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses and complete the associated safety questionnaire.

  7. CONTROL MEASURES
    Before exposing any students to potentially hazardous situations in undergraduate teaching laboratories, faculty in charge of laboratory courses should consider the use of "engineering controls", defined as the substitution of materials or processes, minimization of quantities, isolation, and ventilation. Elimination or minimization of the hazard is always more desirable than issuing personal protective equipment (PPE). Older procedures using carcinogenic or highly toxic materials should be modified or replaced if it is possible to do so within the pedagogical goals of the course. The need for procedures using carcinogenic or highly toxic chemicals or procedures using particularly hazardous equipment should be justified on the basis of pedagogical importance and widespread use in current published laboratory manuals. The Departmental Safety Committee may ask faculty in charge of laboratories with procedures using carcinogenic or highly toxic materials, or other particularly hazardous procedures, for such justification. Any chemical that would entail the need for a "designated area" as defined in the University of Nevada Chemical Hygiene Plan should not be used in large enrollment lower division laboratories. In the case of other laboratories, any justified use of such chemicals will require the corresponding controls listed in aforementioned Section for all students and employees. In particular, containment devices, proper gloves, and lab coats in addition to safety goggles, followed by special decontamination and waste disposal procedures will be required.

  8. MEDICAL CONSULTATIONS/EXAMS
    In any situation where students are injured, the highest priority is that the student is treated in an appropriate and timely fashion. All Chemistry Department employees responsible for an injured student must recommend that the student seek further medical treatment for any injury or chemical exposure, no matter how minor it initially appears and will make a follow-up inquiry the next time that they see the student. In the case of any chemical in the eye, or the ingestion of any chemical, further medical treatment will be required. All medical consultations and/or exams shall be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.

  9. ACCIDENT AND INCIDENT REPORTS
    All accidents involving students shall be promptly reported on the Chemistry Department Undergraduate Accident Report Form. Student Employees are required to file the appropriate paperwork with Employee Insurance Company of Nevada (EICON) (available in the Chemistry department office). If the accident involves exposure to a hazardous chemical or chemicals, the specific chemical(s) must be identified on both forms, and the SDS(s) made available to the student to carry on to the medical care giver if the student chooses to seek further medical attention. A responsible contact person who is knowledgeable about the incident must be identified on the University of Nevada form. The injured student must sign the Department Form as indicated.

    Major or serious accidents should be reported immediately to the Chemistry Department office (CB 213, ext. 46041) and if necessary to Environmental Health and Safety (327-5040). Please report all such incidents to EH&S, even if the incident has been resolved. A copy of both the Department and the University of Nevada Form shall be retained in the department.

  10. DOCUMENTATION
    Departments shall keep copies of syllabi, records of training for teaching assistants, and accident and incident reports for five years.

  11. ENFORCEMENT AND OVERSIGHT
    Any student that is asked more than twice in one laboratory period to wear safety goggles or to follow any other safety procedure will be dismissed from the lab for that period. The student will not be allowed to make up that lab and will receive a zero score for that experiment. It is Departmental policy that more than two laboratory zero scores (for any reason) will result in failure of the course. A student dismissed from laboratory for failure to follow safety regulations will be informed in writing, and the instructor in charge of the course will be given a copy of the dismissal notification.

    It is the responsibility of a teaching assistant or other laboratory instructor to enforce safety regulations. Any teaching assistant who does not enforce safety rules, fails to notify students who are observed to be violating rules, or does not follow rules personally, will be subject to disciplinary action.

    This program will have initial approval of the Department of Chemistry Faculty. The Departmental Safety Committee is responsible for overall oversight and enforcement of this program. The program will be reviewed at least once a year at a faculty meeting, although modifications can be considered at any time. The Safety Committee may report directly to the Department Head who has the authority to modify this policy unilaterally if necessary.