Accidents involving glassware are a leading cause of laboratory injuries. Use careful handling and storage procedures to avoid breaking glassware. You can prevent injuries when you use adequate hand protection (e.g. leather or Kevlar® gloves) when inserting glass tubing into rubber stoppers or corks or when placing rubber tubing on glass hose connections. Tubing must be fire polished or rounded, and lubricated. Hold your hands close together to limit movement of glass should it break. Consider the use of plastic or metal connectors.
Do not attempt glass-blowing operations unless proper annealing facilities are available.
Handle vacuum-jacketed glass apparatus with extreme care to prevent implosions. Tape or shield equipment such as Dewar flasks. Only use glassware designed for vacuum work for that purpose.
Provide proper instruction in the use of glass equipment designed for specialized tasks, which can represent unusual risks for the first-time user. (For example, separator funnels containing volatile solvents can develop considerable pressure during use).
Glassware that is heated should be Pyrex® or a similar heat-treated type. Wear gloves, preferably leather, when you pick up broken glass. Otherwise, sweep up small pieces with a brush into a dustpan. Dispose broken glassware in a special container marked “CAUTION: GLASS AND SHARPS – Non-Hazardous Materials Only” (available on EHS Safety Labels page). Refer to the section in Chapter 12 entitled Disposal to General Wastes – Sharps for glass and sharps disposal policy.
Treat broken thermometers as hazardous waste. Refer to the mercury disposal and cleanup section in Chapter 1 for further information.