Content that belongs in Safety in Laboratories section (safety/lab)

Chemical Hazards

Identifying the Chemical Hazards

The hazard associated with a chemical depends on:

  • what the specific chemical is
  • what chemical(s) it is mixed with, if any, and
  • the relative proportion of the chemical, if it is in a mixture or solution.

Always consider not only what the chemical is, but what concentration you are using when evaluating the hazard.  This is important when reviewing chemical safety reference information such as technical data sheet or Safety Data Sheet (SDS). 

Head Protection

Head Protection

When working with any rotating parts or open flames, long hair must be pulled back.

Pulling back long hair will also help to protect against exposure to hazardous materials.

Protective helmets are required when working in areas where there is a potential head injury from falling objects or low hanging obstacles. 

Anesthetic Gas Use

Halogenated anesthetics, such as isoflurane, are used as an animal anesthetic. These anesthetics are effected for the most part free of adverse effects on the animals to which they are administered. 

Laboratory Microwave Ovens

Household appliances are not designed to withstand the hazardous materials utilized in a lab nor the processes in which they are utilized. Household microwaves should not be used in a laboratory.

Microwave ovens are used for heating and defrosting in laboratories. However, improper use of a microwave can pose a number of hazards including:

Hot Plate Safety

Household appliances are not designed to withstand the hazardous materials utilized in a lab nor the processes in which they are utilized. Household hot plates should never be used in a laboratory.

Hot plates are normally used for heating solutions to 100 C or above when steam baths cannot be used. New hot plates should be designed in a way that avoids electrical sparks and other interlock features. Hot/stirrer plates have an additional risk when operators turn on the wrong feature.

Ovens, Dryers, and Washers

Laboratory dryers, ovens, and washers are used for the washing and drying of glassware and plastic and for removing water or other solvents from chemical samples.


Autoclave Safety

Autoclaves are common in research labs on campus and are used to sterilize glassware, lab instrumentation, and solutions. If you are using an autoclave to deactivate biohazardous waste, please contact UVM's Biosafety Officer.

While the controls for different brands of autoclaves may have their own unique characteristics for loading, load sizes, cycle types, and cycle settings, autoclave hazards remain the same.


Bare feet, sandals, and open toed shoes are not permitted while working in any UVM laboratory where there is often the potential for an exposure to hazardous materials and physical hazards. Wear closed-toe shoes that provide protection from heavy objects falling or rolling on your toes or from an object piercing your feet from below. 

Shoes with open backs are allowed at the discretion of the lab supervisor.

Formaldehyde Program

This page, along with the referenced training course, constitute UVM's program to comply with OSHA's Formaldehyde standard at 29 CFR 1910.1048

Syndicate content