This page is intended to provide information to laboratory personnel about laboratory equipment and equipment safety.
Basic information about safety in laboratory environments can be found in the Laboratory Safety Manual. EHS highly recommends that all laboratory workers familiarize themselves with the contents of the manual.
Chemical Fume Hoods
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to providing students, faculty and staff with engineering controls that minimize their exposure to hazardous materials. These controls include laboratory hoods. Laboratory hoods are also known as “chemical hoods”, “fume hoods” or simply “hoods”.
Laboratory hoods are only effective if the hood operates properly and the user exhibits good work practices. OSHA has developed a chemical fume hoods quick fact sheet describing good work practices. Refer to this guide and the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Chemical Fume Hood Training for information on fume hood safety.
If you believe your hood or hood alarm is not working properly, contact EHS and ask to have your hood evaluated. If a hood is not operating properly, cease work in the hood and submit a Facilities Services maintenance request.
Biological Safety Cabinets
Biological safety cabinets (BSCs) are one type of primary barrier to contain potentially infectious research materials to prevent personnel exposure and environmental contamination.
Researchers who use BSCs in their laboratory are required to take the EHS Biosafety Cabinet Training. Refer to this training, Chapter 16 of the Lab Safety Manual, and Chapter 9 of the Biological Safety Manual for more information about BSCs.
Eyewash Stations and Emergency Showers
Eyewash stations should be activated monthly to ensure proper function. When testing, make sure that the eyewash is operating hands-free, with a constant stream of clean water. The water temperature should be tepid (60°F- 100°F or 16°C- 38°C). Record the monthly inspections on the provided tag or on a Inspection Record Sheet.
Emergency Showers are not required to be inspected by lab personnel, but should be regularly inspected by Facilities Services.
Autoclaves change the biological character of waste to reduce or eliminate its potential for causing disease. Before using autoclaves, workers must take the EHS Autoclave Usage and Safety Training to familiarize themselves with the hazards and operation of autoclaves. Notes about good work practices for autoclaves can be found on this autoclave OSHA factsheet. More information can be found in the Biological Safety Manual.
Centrifuges operate at high speeds and have great potential for causing injury if used carelessly. Improper loading and balancing of rotors can cause parts to break loose, launching projectiles or spraying aerosols, resulting in injury or death. Refer to this centrifuge OSHA factsheet for more information.
For information about electrical safety in the laboratory environment, refer to the Electrical Safety page or this OSHA fact sheet about laboratory electrical safety.
Laboratory equipment should bear appropriate signage. Laboratories that contain hazardous equipment should also have warning signs at the entrance to the laboratory. Hazardous equipment includes lasers, X-ray equipment, high voltage equipment, and equipment that uses ultraviolet light.
Microwaves should bear “no food” or “lab use only” signs.
Equipment used for potentially infectious or other biohazard materials should be labeled with biohazard signs.
Eyewash stations and emergency showers should bear the appropriate signage.