Identifying hazards in the chemical research laboratory



A review of 27 Chemical Hygiene plans and safety manuals used in university chemistry labs, and posted on the Internet, suggests that the use of hazard identification and risk analysis procedures in academia is an infrequent practice. This, unfortunately, is the genesis of accidents. However, a goal of zero incidents and accidents in the laboratory is desired, and it can be achieved with systematic hazard identification and risk analyses procedures.

This article describes a three part process to assess the risks of any work that involves chemical reactions in the research laboratory. The first step identifies the hazard potentials of a chemical synthesis study. This hazards' review helps researchers to fully appreciate the nature and extent of the potential hazards of the planned synthesis study. The second step involves conducting a formal risk analysis, and the third step develops and implements risk minimization measures. This described process is used to lower accident rates by helping researchers understand the hazards and to implement hazard minimization controls and conditions before starting chemical synthesis studies. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2012