Lab Safety

Providing support, in the form of risk assessment, review, consultation(link sends e-mail), training, and the necessary resources and guidance for research at UC Berkeley.

Safety Data Sheets

Safety data sheets (formerly MSDS) are the best source of information regarding the hazards, emergency response, and protective measures for any hazardous material.

Manufacturers are always the most reliable sources for SDSs, and the UC system has provided its researchers with UC SDS Resources, a systemwide website created to help locate SDSs and other chemical safety information. In addition,...

Chemical Explosion Causes Eye Injury

May 31, 2015

ANSI-approved safety glasses—and other personal protective equipment specified in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)—are essential whenever working with hazardous materials. SOPs also indicate other precautions that must be followed to ensure safety, such as performing work with energetic or explosive materials behind a fume hood sash or blast shield.

What happened?

A graduate student researcher was working at a laboratory bench synthesizing approximately one gram of diazonium perchlorate crystals. The student was transferring synthesized perchlorate using a metal spatula...

Plastic Secondary Container Shatters Due to Dry Ice Sublimation

May 28, 2019
What happened?

A researcher packaged a microgram crystalline sample with dry ice to ensure sample integrity. The crystalline sample was first placed inside a glass vial, which was subsequently housed inside a plastic secondary container with a screw cap. The researcher placed dry ice around the glass vial inside the secondary container before loosely capping the top to vent.

When it came time to take out the glass vial, the researcher found that the secondary container was stuck, even though the cap was originally loosely screwed.

The researcher recruited the help of a staff...

Vacuum Chamber Over-pressurization

October 22, 2019
What happened?

A vacuum chamber over-pressurized while a researcher was returning the vacuum to atmosphere by venting with nitrogen from a gas cylinder. The chamber was left to fill while the researcher worked on other tasks. By the time the researcher returned, the chamber had over-pressurized and the view window shattered.

The researcher sustained multiple cuts to the face, three of which required stitches on their forehead. Their injuries could have been worse if it weren't for an aluminum panel that deflected pieces of glass. Visible dents in the panel were noted after the...

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.

Eddie Ciprazo

Laser Safety Officer
Laser Safety

Dry Scraping Causes Chemical Explosion

November 13, 2015
What Happened?

A postdoctoral researcher was synthesizing potentially explosive material in a fume hood, following a well-established procedure published in a peer-reviewed journal. The researcher was transferring a residual amount of the synthesized material using a plastic spatula when the material exploded in his hands. The shattered glassware caused some minor cuts to the researcher’s hands.

Other group members helped the injured researcher wash the injuries and called campus police. He was taken to the hospital where he got treatment for the injuries, and he was released from...

Glass Reactor Over-pressurization Causes Serious Injury to Grad Student Researcher

October 31, 2011
What Happened?

A recent lab accident caused serious injury to a UCB graduate student due to an over-pressurization that caused a glass reactor to fail. Glass was sprayed at the researcher who received cuts to his lip, chin, chest, and serious cuts to his hands. 911 was called and the researcher was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The cuts to the hand were serious enough to require stitches and surgery on the palm.

The chemical research involved a toxic/flammable gas that was liquefied and used with a pyrophoric reagent. The reaction was done inside a fume hood, so no one else...

Laser Safety in Research Laboratories

July 31, 2003

In April 2003, the Non-Ionizing Radiation Safety Committee (NIRSC) informed the laser research community that a serious laser eye injury had occurred on the UC Berkeley campus. The campus Laboratory Safety Officer (LSO) performed an investigation of the incident. The following information and lessons learned are based on the LSO’s investigation of the incident.

What Happened?

The incident involved a short pulse, Class 4, invisible (1064 nm), Nd:YAG laser in a multi-user laser laboratory. During alignment of the laser's Nd:YAG beam, a graduate student was struck in the...