This is my first of hopefully many safety blog entries! Let me introduce myself. I am Diane Hagner’s replacement. Not that you can ever really replace Diane. Diane in many ways defined the Swette Center. She had a commitment to safety and compliance and worked hard to keep our lab running smoothly. Big shoes to fill for sure! My name is Sarah Arrowsmith and I am the new Laboratory Research Coordinator for the Biodesign Swette Center of Environmental Biotechnology at ASU. I am also our Center’s EH&S Compliance Officer and one of two Gas Cylinder Training Mentors.
Before I get started on the thought for the month, I would like to outline what I do for you, the members of the Center.
Please come talk to me for:
- Door Access
- Shipping/hand-carrying or receiving microorganisms, soil, or specialized chemicals.
- Safety Concerns
- Gas Cylinder Training
- General Supplies (including ordering general supplies)
- Reference probes, frictionless syringes, Hach spec power cord, and general equipment.
- PPE: Goggles, Gloves, Lab Coat, Respirators…
- Hazardous Waste Bags
- If you are unsure about using any piece of equipment
- Missing items
- Proof reading papers
- You need a pep talk
I am not joking about the last one. I know grad school can be tough. I have been there. Come by my desk, I can usually provide you with an understanding smile and a high sugar food item.
Now, onto business...
We have started a jar, where if you are caught out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) compliance, you need to donate a quarter for every offense to the general lab food fund. While this is all well and good and our team has been enthusiastically participating, it would be helpful to have a review of proper PPE.
Lab Coats: ASU requires all workers in our lab to wear lab coats. Your lab coat must be worn at all times in the lab area regardless of the kind of work you are doing. The exception is for transient passage. What is transient passage? This means that you are only passing through the lab and not lingering for any length of time. You are not handling equipment, supplies or chemicals. You are not looking at instruments or being social with your coworkers. Examples of transient passage might include a tour being given by a PI, a mentor introducing a new employee to members of the lab, delivering a package to a bench space, or passing along a message to a coworker. If you wish to have an extended conversation with someone in the lab space, please go ahead and throw on one of those beautiful white lab coats.
Goggles: ASU requires all workers in our lab to wear goggles when working with chemicals or biologicals. Note that bleach and isopropanol that are used for cleaning are considered chemicals and you must wear goggles. You must wear goggles even if you are working at a hood. If you are working with concentrated acids or bases, please wear goggles and a face shield. Face shields are available at each hood along with rubber gloves and a rubber apron. You should wear goggles that are shatter proof when working with fabrication equipment including the drill press. Eye glasses may be worn in the lab, however please wear over-the-glass goggles. Prescription eyeglasses do not provide protection from splashes coming from below or the side. They are also not shatterproof, and many acids and solvents will destroy the lens. See me for a new pair of goggles if you need them! The badging office also has goggles and has an awesome selection!
Gloves: ASU requires all workers in our lab to wear gloves when working with chemicals or biologicals. We have nylon gloves, nitrile gloves and vitron rubber gloves. Please use the appropriate glove for the appropriate risk level. When working with Dichloromethane (DCM), please double glove with nitrile first, then vinyl gloves. Please throw away gloves in biohazard trash. See this guide to help you choose the appropriate gloves for your research.
Clothing: Closed toed shoes are an absolute must in the lab. Slippers with the top of your foot showing are not appropriate. Sandals and flip flops are definitely out. Your legs should be covered in some way while working with chemicals. Pouring acid or solvents in shorts is dangerous, as there is no barrier between your legs and the chemicals. It is best practice to leave a pair of long pants or a long skirt at your desk for times when you need to handle hazardous materials. Change into them when you need them. There are also lockers available in the bathrooms on each floor. You are welcome to bring your own lock and use them.
PPE between rooms and outside the lab space: Biodesign does not have a formal policy yet on this. However, our guidelines for our Center are as follows. Do not touch door handles while wearing gloves. Take off a glove while passing through doors. You may wear your lab coat and goggles while transporting hazardous materials. Please avoid the common areas of Biodesign and stay to the secure back hallways. If you are not transporting hazardous materials, please remove your PPE until you have returned to the lab.