According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 500,000 workers are employed in laboratories in the United States – thus, this is a lot of Americans that need to have proper protection to control and protect themselves in the workplace from potentially dangerous substances like different chemicals used in this commercial industry. This industry has many safety procedures, emergency plans, and protective equipment and gear that can be easily utilized within this environment when something dangerous occurs like a chemical spill.
In this article we are going to learn more about the dangers of working with chemicals in the laboratory industry, the different chemical response plans that are set in place to protect workers, and what products can be used to effectively neutralize chemical spills in the workplace of a lab.
What is a Laboratory Hazard
Hazards can happen anywhere, and sometimes in even the most unsuspecting of places. But typically, however, when it comes to a hazard people will generally be aware of this risk, especially when working in a laboratory where hazards surround them nearly all day long, along with common laboratory problems. A hazard is defined as anything that may cause injury, harm, or damage to an environment or person’s health. When you are working in a laboratory it is specifically labeled as a laboratory hazard because of the various chemical agents that a lab worker has the potential to come across and acquire harm from if used or exposed to incorrectly.
There are three classified types of laboratory hazards; physical hazards, chemical hazards, and biological hazards. A physical hazard would include something that was caused by a physical agent like heat, electrical, or sharp materials (examples; fire, injury, noise, radiation, high voltage apparatus). Chemical hazards will occur by different chemicals that are stored and used in the lab environment (examples; corrosive, flammable, toxic, carcinogen, poisonous, explosive). Lastly, biological hazards occur by a biological agent like blood, other bodily fluids, experimental animals (examples; pathogenic microorganisms, animals, biological tissues, blood).
There are certain chemicals that are used more prevalently inside of a commercial laboratory that workers will have a higher susceptibility to exposure than others. Each laboratory is different from one another and will work on specific tasks or lab functions in their workplace – whether that means dealing with corrosive chemicals, carcinogen chemicals, or even organic based chemicals. Below we are going to list some of the more popularly used chemicals in a lab and how these chemicals can impact an environment.
- Oxidizers: An oxidizer is a substance that has the ability to oxidize other substances, accepting their electrons in the air. Some of the most popular oxidizing agents include oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, nitrates, permanganates, chlorates, etc.
- Flammable chemicals: The average laboratory manager will use an immense amount of flammable chemicals over the course of their career. These chemicals are usually in liquid form and can lead to several health issues during improper exposure in a lab. Some examples of flammable chemicals include acetone, benzene, ethanol, methanol, xylene, toluene, etc.
- Corrosive chemicals: Corrosive chemicals that are used in a laboratory have the potential to be significantly hazardous to the environment and workers when handled improperly, leading to potential skin or eye contact or inhalation exposure. Examples of corrosive chemicals in a lab include glycolic acid, imidazole, 4- Methoxybenzylamine, sodium hydroxide, amines, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide.
Lab Safety Rules Chemicals
Laboratories are no strangers to rules and regulations, as this environment has some pretty strict and important rules and emergency plans set in place when a chemical spill or accident occurs in this commercial space. Any time that you are dealing with chemicals in a workplace, whether that be toxic chemicals or chemicals that are known to interact safely when used, there should always be lab safety rules for chemical use set in the lab. These chemical lab safety rules will generally help employees avoid spills and other accidents, as well as provide protection to the lab when it comes to damage that the chemicals could cause in the laboratory.
The rules to use in this commercial space will include the following;
- No matter the chemical, every chemical should be treated as a dangerous substance.
- Do not allow any solvents to come into contact with human skin.
- All chemicals should have labels on them that clearly identify the chemical, its concentration, the date it was receives, and the name of person who is responsible for it.
- Read the label before removing any chemicals from the bottle.
- Do not put unused chemicals back into their original container.
- Chemicals should never be mixed in sink drains
- If a chemical spill occurs, immediate cleanup will be necessary.
- Ensure that all chemical waste is properly disposed of following a spill or release.
Chemical Spill Emergency Response Plan
Chemical spills will happen usually as an accident in the indoor space of a laboratory, and this could be through the mishandling of the chemicals, improper storage of the chemicals, or even just a simple case of accidental spilling. Whatever the case may be, when a chemical is spilled within a confined space like a lab it can create a potentially toxic environment that will be hazardous to both workers in the space and on the overall indoor air quality in the workplace. In the event of a chemical spill you should have instilled a chemical spill emergency response plan ready to perform immediately to mitigate the situation effectively.
An emergency response plan for chemical spills will usually consist of several steps that are carefully laid out to organize the necessary process of carefully and properly neutralizing and cleaning a chemical spill that has occurred within the laboratory. First, there will likely be an emergency contact number for the Public Safety office in the area if you need a response team to be deployed to the scene to mitigate the chemicals professionally. Second, there will likely be instructions to utilize a spill kit that can be deployed to contain and neutralize the released chemicals. These spill kits are usually required in labs to help maintain spill control materials in the event of liquid chemical releases.
Chemical Spill Kit for Laboratory
When it comes to chemical spill kits, these kits can contain a variety of items within them that will help to ultimately contain and decontaminate the spilled/released chemical(s) from the environment. These kits will contain absorbents, neutralizers, personal protective equipment (PPE), tools for clean-up, and spill clean-up procedures – all of which will work together to clean the contaminated chemical space of a lab. Although these chemical spill kits are an effective means to neutralizing a chemical spill, they can sometimes be timely to complete and may take chemical-knowledge to determine the appropriate solutions to contain the specific spilled chemical in the lab. Thus, this has made the usability and overall desirability of spill kits a less favorable option for laboratories.
How to Clean Up Chemical Spills
If, and when a chemical spill occurs inside of a commercial laboratory full of workers, there will be an increasing need for chemical neutralization solutions that can be easily, safely, and effectively deployed in the environment. There are many alternative options that are now being used for laboratory chemical spill neutralization, such as the revolutionary FAST-ACT technology. FAST-ACT Chemical Neutralization technology is a proprietary technology that is based on the use of safe earth minerals that inherently possess the ability to detoxify harmful chemical compounds from an environment, both in vapor and liquid states. When the FAST-ACT technology comes into contact with certain chemicals, the earth mineral technology will capture the bad chemicals initiating the neutralization process on the surface. This will allow for the neutralization technology to bind safely to contain the chemical threat in the environment and work to chemically break down a wide variety of the chemical compounds it binds to in the environment.
The use of FAST-ACT is incredibly user-friendly, as the neutralization solution can be used on a variety of chemical spills and releases without having to identify the chemical(s) that were released prior to the neutralization. Thus, the FAST-ACT products make for the perfect use in laboratories for quick and safe chemical clean up and neutralization.
500 Gram Shaker Bottle
FAST-ACT (First Applied Sorbent Treatment Against Chemical Threats) is a chemical hazard containment and neutralization system for liquid and vapor chemical spills and releases. FAST-ACT powder is available in a 500-gram shaker bottle for portability and easy deployment. Wall-mounts and vehicle mounts for the FAST-ACT Shaker bottle are also available, allowing for safe and convenient storage near any potential hazards.
✓ Easy to operate with minimal user training required
✓ Neutralizes, absorbs, and/or contains upon contact
✓ Non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable, environmentally friendly
✓ Advanced patented technology with extensive testing with proven results
✓ Perfect for use in laboratories including schools, universities, hospitals, and commercial labs