Chemical Safety

Ensuring the safe and compliant use of chemicals on campus.

Lab Self-Inspection Checklist

Office of Environment, Health & Safety

Reviewing the EH&S lab self-inspection checklist is a good way to prepare for inspections. The department safety coordinator for each department or an EH&S lab safety specialist will reach out to each lab to schedule an inspection time.

Contact the campus chemical hygiene officer at (510) 643-6381 or with any questions or concerns about the EH&S General Lab Safety Inspection Program.

Margarita Gonzales

Research Safety Manager
Chemical Safety
Controlled Substances
Lab Safety
EH&S Inspections

Peroxide Explosion Injures Campus Researcher

November 30, 2006
What Happened?

An undergraduate student researcher was working at the laboratory bench when the apparatus she was using exploded, sending glass fragments into her face and upper torso. The researcher was using a rotary evaporator (rotovap) to remove organic solvents from an azobenzene precipitate. She adjusted the bottom flask which then exploded sending glass towards her face, hitting her safety goggles and forehead. Lab personnel helped her to the safety shower and called 911. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she received stitches above her eyes and other treatment...

Acetone Fire

July 31, 2008
What happened?

A student worker in a Berkeley campus laboratory was refilling squirt bottles with acetone from a larger dispensing container when he spilled approximately one cup of acetone liquid onto the floor. Due to lack of training, and/or an error in judgment, the student lit the acetone with a match to burn it off instead of following proper spill clean-up procedures. While doing so, the student accidentally knocked over another uncapped squirt bottle on the benchtop that was filled with acetone. This additional acetone ignited and set-off the fire sprinklers in the room,...

Oleylamine Chemical Burn

December 31, 2008
What happened? A laboratory researcher suffered a delayed chemical burn after only a few drops of a highly corrosive organic chemical splattered on his unprotected left forearm. The burns first appeared hours after exposure, got worse overnight, and eventually required treatment at a hospital.

forearm with spotted chemical burns

The researcher's forearm


Accidental Mixing of Bleach and Acid

October 31, 2009
What Happened?

A researcher working in a laboratory glassware washing area thought she should refresh the bleach solution for soaking lab glassware. In an "inattentive moment" she added fresh bleach to what she thought was the bleach soaking tub; unfortunately the tub did not contain bleach but contained 5% hydrochloric acid. The acid solution (with bleach) immediately turned from clear to yellow. She quickly realized that bleach and acid should never be mixed because toxic chlorine gas can be created. She immediately had everyone leave the room; she considered calling 911, but since...

Chemical Inventory 2020 Expectations

August 13, 2020

As a reminder, chemical inventory and door hazard signs should continue to be updated for both emergency response and regulatory purposes. However, we understand that it may be difficult to perform a full survey of your group's inventory due to the constraints and limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, we ask that you update only significant changes in your inventory. EH&S will continue to check the dates on door hazard signs during lab inspections, and...

Glove Selection Guide

Follow these steps to choose the appropriate type of protective glove for your job. The Glove Selection Chart also provides advantages and disadvantages for specific glove types. This guidance was prepared for laboratory researchers but may also be helpful for other people working with hazardous materials.

Once selected, glove use requirements for your lab should be posted in your Chemical Hygiene Plan flipchart under the Standard Operating Procedures section.See below for the...

When should I label my waste container?

Label your chemical waste container as soon as you start collecting waste. Every container must be labeled with a Hazardous Waste Program (HWP) label. Starting from the first day waste begins accumulating, you have six months before EH&S needs to come to pick it up.