Laboratory Safety Plan

Department of Geology
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057

Revised February 2009

Students will be given copies of the safety rules at the beginning of each course which involves lab work or at the beginning of summer research. They will sign statements that indicate they have read and understood and will follow the rules. Faculty may, at times, test the students' knowledge of the safety rules. This knowledge and the students' compliance with it may count as part of the students' grades.

Safety rules which apply to all Geology laboratories:

All of the Geology Department rooms in the Mudd, Olin and Hulings halls which are accessible to students are considered "laboratories" for the purposes of this plan.

Potentially hazardous machines such as rock saws, grinders, crushers and splitters, gasoline powered saws and drills, and instruments which involve flames, radioactive emissions or strong electromagnetic fields, shall be used only after instruction by a faculty member or other qualified person.

The highest risk chemicals or equipment are those which upon contact may cause injury requiring medical attention. The Geology Department prohibits work with highest risk chemicals or equipment, including equipment that involves flames, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. or when the worker is the only person in the laboratory area. During breaks in the academic calendar, people using high risk materials and equipment should work during business hours when help is readily available in case of emergency. The equipment involving flames includes the Fluxy XRF sample preparer, the atomic absorption spectrophotometer, or any reaction using a Bunsen burner.

Equipment which during normal use can cause eye injury by explosion or emission of particles will be posted with a sign requiring eye protection during use. This equipment includes the Fluxy XRF sample preparer and the atomic absorption spectrophotometer.


  • Bare feet are prohibited in Geology laboratories.
  • Riding of bicycles, unicycles, roller blades or any other wheeled conveyance is prohibited in any Geology hallways or rooms.
  • Parking or storing bicycles in Geology labs is prohibited.
  • Throwing Frisbees, balls, hacky sacks, water balloons, or other objects is prohibited in Geology hallways and rooms.
  • Horseplay, rough-housing and practical jokes are prohibited in labs.
  • Running is prohibited in any Geology laboratories or hallways.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in academic buildings, except for registered events, by the Carleton College Student Handbook.

Safety with hazardous chemicals: Refer to Appendix 1 - CHEMICAL HYGIENE PLAN, below.

In case of injury: Refer to Appendix 2, TREATMENT OF INJURED PERSONS, below.

Each lab is supplied with a first aid kit.

There are telephones in each room for summoning emergency help. In case of emergency, if the injuries do not require an ambulance call Campus Security Services at ext. 4444. In cases where an ambulance is needed dial 911 first, and then call Security Services to notify them of the emergency.

  • If an injury breaks the skin, inform the lab instructor or lab assistant immediately.
  • If chemicals get in the eye, go directly to the eyewash and begin flushing with water. Inform the lab instructor or lab assistant.
  • If ingestion or inhalation of a chemical occurs, inform the lab instructor or lab assistant immediately.
  • Injuries that break the victim's skin or cause skin to blister will be reported on a department injury report form. The form will detail the name of the injured, the type of injury, the circumstances of the injury and the action taken. The same will be done for eye injuries requiring the use of the eyewash or ingestion or inhalation of any laboratory reagent. No matter how minor the injury is perceived to be, the injured will always be advised to report to the Health Center or the hospital emergency room. Security Services may be called to transport the injured (see Appendix 2). Departmental injury forms will be kept on file in the Geology Department Office for ten years following the incident.


The Geology Department utilizes a variety of substances in and around our laboratories. These substances present varying degrees of hazards and need to be handled respectfully and with regard to the hazard that each one presents.

Low-risk substances

Low-risk substances include any substances which are unlikely to cause injury in normal use. They can readily be purchased by members of the public without a permit or prescription at retail stores in Northfield, including food coloring, table salt, rubbing alcohol, vegetable oil, motor oil, antifreeze, paint and paint thinner, adhesives, sealers, cleansers, detergent, Portland cement, etc. These substances present minimal hazards to the workers using them and, while common sense needs to apply, they can be used by employees and students in any of our laboratories without special consent or training.

Also included among low-risk substances are some items which must be bought from chemical supply houses or other specialty vendors, but which, according to their Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) or the judgment of the Geology Department faculty, do not present hazards requiring special handling or precautions. Examples of materials that we use which are in this category include refractive index oils, rock saw lubricant, dilute 10% hydrochloric acid, and thin section epoxy.

In cases where substances such as owl pellets present a low risk for biohazard, proper precautions will be taken including dust masks, protective eye wear and plastic gloves.

Extended exposure exceeding the Threshold Limit Value to clay or sand dust can present long term health hazards. People using dry sand or clay in powder form are encouraged to work either in a fume hood or outdoors.

Certain minerals in the Dana Collection, including ores of mercury and arsenic, contain poisonous elements which can rub off on fingers during casual handling. People handling these mineral samples should wash their hands after handling the minerals. The mineral samples to which this applies are in boxes labeled with warning stickers informing people of the risk.

Higher-risk substances

Chemicals which are poisonous, toxic, carcinogenic, corrosive, extremely flammable, cryogenic or radioactive need to be handled with greater care. Direct contact of these substances with a person or a person's skin may cause immediate injury requiring medical care. Storage and use of these substances will be in rooms which normally are locked to restrict access. These rooms include Mudd B62 and B66, Olin 10, 12, 14 and 19, and the Hulings SEM lab B03B. Use of these hazardous materials requires the permission and instruction of a faculty member.

Examples of chemicals which fall into the high-risk category include but are not limited to concentrated hydrofluoric, hydrochloric, nitric, and sulfuric acids, radioactive minerals, naphthalene, diphenylamine, ion chromatography and atomic absorption reagents, high pressure compressed gases, and liquid nitrogen.

The remainder of Appendix 1 governs work with hazardous chemicals in the rooms designated above for hazardous chemical work:

One of the goals of the Geology Department is to minimize the quantity and variety of hazardous chemicals that we keep on hand. We dispose of high-risk chemicals which are no longer needed, or have not been used in several years, with a maximum holding period of five years beyond the last use, unless a faculty member has immediate plans to use a particular chemical. With the automation of chemical ordering and quick delivery now available, we emphasize a "just-in-time" inventory strategy for high risk chemicals, ordering them as we need them in quantities limited to the current project's needs.

Chemical operating procedures for rooms in which hazardous chemicals are present

No hazardous chemicals and chemical procedures will be used in academic laboratories unless approved by a faculty member. Prior to beginning a lab activity, the hazards associated with the chemicals to be used will be explained to students. This will be done in the presence of the lab assistants, if any are assigned.

There should be a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) available for any hazardous chemical used in lab. In the absence of a Material Safety Data Sheet, other sources should be used to ascertain the hazards. Either the faculty member or the Laboratory Manager may require that the user(s) and/or the lab assistants review the information contained in the MSDS. An employee may demand to see a MSDS before using a chemical. If none is available the employee may decline to undertake the project. In such cases the employee must be given a different project and may not be penalized in any way for this action. In practice, we have MSDSs for almost all the substances we buy, but the substances we use are common and MSDSs for them can also be found by searching the Internet.

No work with hazardous chemicals should take place between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. under any conditions, or during breaks, on holidays or weekends when the worker is alone in the lab.

Chemical containers will be labeled with the chemical name of the contents and the date of filling. This includes lab glassware which contains laboratory chemicals whenever the container will not be emptied before the end of the laboratory session. The full name of the chemical or reagent will normally be used. Abbreviations are not acceptable unless all who may be involved with the container of chemical or reagent are thoroughly familiar with the abbreviation. All containers of hazardous chemicals or reagents will be labeled with the appropriate signal word (danger, warning or caution) and with an indication of the type of hazard.

Where chemicals are being used for a project which extends beyond the scope of one term, the name of the investigator should also be on the label. Bottles of chemicals with no investigator's name attached may be disposed of during the routine clean-up between terms.

Only experiments authorized by department faculty will be performed. When designing experiments, consideration should be given to minimizing the possibility of exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Also, in labs where hazardous chemicals are being used:

  • No food will be stored in chemical storage refrigerators.
  • Eating, drinking or smoking in lab is prohibited.
  • Filling pipettes by mouth suction is prohibited.
  • No flame heating devices will be used in an area where volatile flammable solvents are used.
  • Chemical containers will be kept closed except when the contents are being withdrawn.
  • All lab workers will be shown the location and use of safety showers, eye washes, fire extinguishers and fire blankets.
  • Contact lenses are discouraged except as determined by a faculty member.
  • Work involving potential overexposure to toxic fumes or dusts or nuisance odors will be done in a properly functioning fume hood.
  • Compressed gas cylinders will have covers in place whenever they are moved. All cylinders must be physically restrained and supported except when being moved.
  • All workers are strongly advised to wash hands thoroughly either before leaving lab or immediately after leaving the lab.
  • Injuries that break the victim's skin or cause skin to blister will be reported on a department injury report form. The form will detail the name of the injured, the type of injury, the circumstances of the injury and the action taken. The same will be done for eye injuries requiring the use of the eyewash or ingestion or inhalation of any laboratory reagent. No matter how minor the injury is perceived to be, the injured will always be advised to report to the Health Center or the hospital emergency room. Security Services may be called to transport the injured (see Appendix 2). Departmental injury forms will be kept on file in the Geology Department Office for ten years following the incident.

Protective Equipment

  • The Geology Department will provide safety glasses and face shields, and other necessary protective equipment, for use in handling hazardous chemicals.
  • Eye protection must be worn by all persons in any lab where work with hazardous chemicals is going on.
  • Labs where hazardous chemicals are being used will have signs requiring eye protection.
  • When using chemicals that are hazardous through skin contact, gloves will be worn. Selection of proper gloves will be based on the information contained in the Material Safety Data Sheet. The department will stock gloves of nitrile. In most cases, these types of gloves provide protection from exposure due to incidental spills or splashes. They are never to be used for immersion of the hands into any hazardous chemical. If immersion is necessary, proper gloves will be ordered for this purpose.
  • Work involving potential overexposure to toxic fumes or dusts or nuisance odors will be done in a properly operating fume hood.
  • If you experience a chemical spill on your person, go to a sink or safety shower and rinse thoroughly with water. Quickly remove any clothing that is soaked with the chemical.
  • Hazardous chemical spills will be cleaned up immediately by a lab assistant, faculty member or other department employee. If a spill occurs at night, the spill area will be taped off with warning tape. If the spill presents an inhalation hazard, all persons will evacuate the entire lab. No one will be allowed to continue to work in the vicinity of a chemical spill.

Chemical storage

Hazardous chemicals will be stored in rooms in which the main entry doors have been set to lock by default. These rooms include Mudd B62 and B66, Olin 10, 12, 14 and 19, and Hulings B03B.

When not in use, strong reagents such as concentrated acids will be stored in the protective cabinets below the fume hoods.

Chemical Waste Disposal

  • Every effort will be made to minimize the production of hazardous waste.
  • No untreated hazardous waste will be poured down the drain or placed in a wastebasket. Specifically labeled waste containers will be made available for these.
  • No reactive chemical waste will be mixed with other wastes.
  • Waste solvents will be recycled whenever possible.
  • Any combining of wastes must be approved by the Hazardous Waste Coordinator.
  • All containers of waste will be accurately labeled.
  • The Hazardous Waste Coordinator of the Chemistry Department will help us arrange for disposal of hazardous waste.


Fume hoods, eyewashes and safety showers will be checked weekly during the school year, and the inspection date will be noted on a tag attached to the eyewash/shower piping.

Using the built-in velocity meter, a fume hood should have a face velocity of between 70 and 125 feet/minute when the sash is half open. If anemometer results are inconclusive further testing will be done using a smoke device to determine whether a hood is allowing fumes to escape into the lab area. Any hood found to be unsatisfactory will be taken out of service until repairs are made by college maintenance personnel and further tests indicate it is functioning properly. Repairs will be done promptly by the college maintenance personnel.

Eyewashes will be tested at least semi¬annually by running the eyewash. Water will be run until it is free of rust. Water must also be at a moderate temperature. The output must be at least one half gallon per minute. Attention will be paid to the pattern of the water output. It must be such that both eyes may be thoroughly flushed and that the face wash spray is uniform and complete. Any eyewash that does not meet these criteria will be taken out of service until repairs are made by maintenance personnel. Repairs will be done promptly.

Safety showers will be tested at least semi¬annually by running the shower into a bucket. Water will be run until it is free of rust (it is from the same water source that feeds eyewashes). Water must also be at a moderate temperature. Attention will be paid to the flow volume from the shower. It must be at least thirty gallons per minute, sufficient to completely drench the user in less than one minute. Any shower that does not meet these criteria will be taken out of service until repairs are done by college maintenance personnel. Repairs will be done promptly.


All students employed in laboratories using hazardous chemicals, whether as teaching or research assistants, will be trained before beginning their assignments. Faculty members who are involved with laboratory work will also attend the training sessions. Subsequently, these faculty and students will be expected to implement the provisions of this training.

Training will include:
a) procedures as detailed in this Chemical Hygiene Plan
b) hazards that will likely be encountered in the laboratories
c) protective measures to be taken against injury or overexposure
d) how to extract information from a Material Safety Data Sheet

Records of training, containing names and dates, will be kept on file in the departmental office.


Medical consultations and/or examinations will be provided by Carleton College at no cost to an employee under the following circumstances:
a) the employee develops symptoms which are consistent with overexposure to a hazardous chemical to which he or she may have been exposed on the job;
b) a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical occurs in a laboratory which results in possible overexposure;
c) monitoring indicates that an exposure level has occurred in excess of that which is permitted.

Authorization for such examinations must come from the Associate Dean's office. Such medical examinations and consultations will be done by a licensed physician or under a licensed physician's direct supervision. The physician will be informed, by an appropriate College representative, of the employee's symptoms, the conditions of the exposure and the substance to which the employee was exposed.

The physician will inform the employee and Carleton College of the results of his or her findings and recommendations for further examination or treatment.

The physician will provide Carleton College with a statement that the employee has been given the results of the examination and also any condition which the employee has, as a result of the exposure, which increases the employee's risk of medical problems in the future.

Records of medical examinations or consultations required under this section will be kept on file in the Associate Dean's office for a period of thirty years following the end of the employee's tenure.


The term "designated area" refers to a lab, portion of a lab, or a fume hood having signs posted declaring the hazard present within. When a designated area is declared, only the person or persons declaring it will work within it and will work only on the project for which it was declared. As soon as the hazard for which the designated area was declared ceases to exist, the designated area ceases to exist and the hazardous substances and signs must be removed.

Procedures involving the use of strong hydrofluoric or other acids require a designated area. This will be a fume hood exclusively for the use of hydrofluoric acid. All persons who could possibly be exposed to the substance will be warned in advance of its use. The area in which the substance is used will be designated by warning signs.


The Chemical Hygiene Officer will be appointed by a College administrator who has broad authority to do so. Final authority to confirm or deny the appointment will rest with the President of the College.

Brian Mars was appointed Chemical Hygiene Officer by Steve Galovich, Associate Dean, on May 22, 1991.


The employee who first responds to the incident which causes an injury will be in charge of providing treatment until relieved by another employee who is more qualified. Action must be taken immediately, so don't wait for someone else to do it. Follow these steps:

    Is the person unconscious, not breathing, in severe pain, bleeding profusely, unable to move, missing limbs or digits? Is pulse absent? Is there a possibility of back or neck injury? If any of the answers to any of these are positive CALL 911 or have someone else call. This will bring police, rescue and an ambulance. After calling 911, call Security Services at ext. 4444.
  2. CALL SECURITY SERVICES at ext. 4444
    …or, if someone else is available, have that person call Security Services. The caller should give his or her name, the room where the injured is located, the condition of the injured and answer any questions from the officer who answers. Security Services will also consider whether an ambulance is necessary.
    Do whatever you know how to do to stop bleeding or restore pulse or respiration. If the situation is life threatening, doing something is better than nothing.
    Unless you or the injured are in immediate danger from the environment, the less the injured is moved, the less chance there is of complicating the injury.
    If you must err, take more precautions than necessary.