Many laboratories operate lab equipment that are inherently hazardous. Equipment hazards include high heat, pressurized vessels, extreme cold temperatures, and electrical elements. Some general precautions need to be taken when working with these devices. Consider the following:

  • Laboratory equipment should undergo routine maintenance to ensure equipment is operating safely and as designed.
  • Researchers should routinely clean and maintain equipment according to the manufacturers recommendations.  Please consult your equipment manual for recommended cleaning and maintenance schedules.
  • Any equipment that is damaged or worn must be tagged or locked out of usage until repairs can be made or discarded.  Damage may include exposed heating element, frayed or damaged electrical cords, damaged or missing seal(s), or cracked glass.
  • All users must be trained to operate each piece of equipment in the lab. Training on specialized equipment should be documented in your Lab Safety Notebook.

Newer equipment may be purchased with fail-safe or interlock devices that can prevent fires, explosions, or exposure to the hazard.  

For more information on Working with Laboratory Equipment please visit the online version of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards.

Guide to Purchasing New Equipment

Whenever possible, ask equipment manufacturer's for the following information before procurring a new piece of lab equipment:

  • Technical specifications for the equipment,
  • Warranty information, and
  • Maintenance requirements.

FD&C or PPD personnel can review technical specifications and help you determine whether or not building infrastructure changes are necessary.

 

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING NEW EQUIPMENT

Before purchasing new lab equipment, determine the following:

  • What hazardous materials (chemical, biological, radiological, physical hazards) may be used with the equipment.
  • How will the equipment be used?
  • Who are the equipement users?

**The questions below are designed to assist you in determining your infrastructure needs. Failure to take these aspects into account can delay the installation of your equipment or halt the installation altogether. Additional funding may be necessary to address any building infrastructure changes.**

 

QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS BEFORE PURCHASING

If you are unsure how to answer any of these questions, please talk to the equipment manufacturer and request a specification sheet and/or installation manual for the equipment prior to purchasing. Consult with Risk Management & Safety, PPD, and/or FD&C BEFORE purchasing the equipment.

What are the laboratory ventilation needs for the equipment?

  • Will chemical vapors or fumes be produced by the use of the equipment?
  • Will biological aerosols be created?
  • Will heat be generated, either by the motor of the equipment or during the process (e.g. ovens and autoclaves)?
  • Will there be any hot works being done (e.g. soldering, welding)?
  • Will any toxic or hazardous gases be used?


What are the electrical needs for the equipment?

  • Does the equipment require 110v or 208v power? What's the amperage draw on the equipment?
  • What type of plug does the equipment have (standard 3 prong, twist lock, straight pins, etc)?
  • Is emergency power needed for this equipment? Is emergency power available in your building or area?
  • Is an emergency power shut-off required?
  • Do interlocks with warning lights need to be installed (e.g. Class 3B or 4 lasers)?

What are the water or plumbing needs?

  • Does the equipment have a condensate or other type of drain? Does this drain need to be connected to the sanitary sewer? (NOTE: Chemical waste drains must connect to a chemical waste bottle that can be changed routinely.)
  • Does the equipment need to be directly connected to water?
  • Does the equipment need to be connected to the building natural gas lines? Does your building have natural gas plumbed to each lab?
  • If your building has a compressed gas manifold system, does your equipment need to be connected to this system?
  • Do you intend to install a compressed gas manifold system as part of the equipment installation?

What are your space needs?

  • Is the room where the equipment will be installed designated as a lab space? Does it have appropriate ventilation and building services?
  • How will the equipment be delivered and removed from the truck?
  • Is the parking lot and/or loading dock sufficient to receive this equipment?
  • Will a crane or forklift be necessary to move the equipment?
  • Will the equipment fit in the building elevator? If your building does not have an elevator and you are not on the main level, how do you plan on getting the equipment to your lab?
  • Will the equipment fit through your lab door?
  • Will the lab have the required aisle space and emergency egress once the equipment is installed?
  • Does the equipment need additional space to allow for proper exhaust or heat to dissipate? (e.g. Ultra low temperature freezers should be located 4-6 inches away from the wall and with 4-6 inches between equipment.)
  • Will the room need additional cooling capacity if the equipment generates heat?

Are there any additional considerations?

  • What is the weight of the equipment to be installed? PPD or FD&C and/or a structural engineer may need to be consulted.
  • Does the equipment need to be connected to a remote alarm system in the event of an unplanned power outtage or equipment failure? Discuss the installation or monitoring of remote alarm systems with PPD building controls group.
  • What are the routine maintenance needs of the equipment?
  • Will you need to access specific points of the equipment in order to repair?
  • Pressure vessels (e.g. autoclaves) require a certification at installation and a routine inspection by a state inspector. Submit a work order if your pressure vessel has not been inspected.

Specific Laboratory Equipment

Autoclaves

Ovens, Dryers, and Washers

Hot plates

Microwave Ovens

Centrifuges

Laboratory Freezers

Electrically Powered Equipment (coming soon)

Water Cooled Equipment

High and Low Pressure and Temperature systems

Heat Blocks (PDF) (from St. Andrews Chemistry Teaching Laboratories, St. Andrews, UK)