Safety is AMCaT's No. 1 Priority
All AMCaT laboratories are in compliance with UC Davis’s Illness and Injury Prevention Program, which requires that each college, department and individual laboratory establish its own comprehensive safety program.
These programs address issues such as responsible persons, methods of purchasing, using and storing hazardous chemicals, training and records of training, hazards communications and working with radiation, biological agents, carcinogens and hazardous machines. Each individual safety program is described in detail in the red “Chemical Hygiene Plan” binders found in each laboratory. An overview of the plans covering AMCaT is summarized below:
Just as the PI is responsible for everything that happens in their laboratories, the AMCaT manager is responsible for everything that happens in the facility. This person must not only provide a safe workplace, but also make sure that the work is done in a safe manner. In addition, everyone who works in a laboratory on this campus is considered a safety officer, in that they are obligated to do their part to make and keep their lab and this campus a safe working environment. This encompasses not only watching their own actions, but also speaking up or taking the appropriate action when another person’s actions create dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.
All hazards present in each laboratory are listed in each laboratory’s red “Chemical Hygiene Plan” binder. In addition, signs describing emergency procedures and listing the names of emergency personnel are posted on or close to equipment where hazards exist.
The department and the campus offer many opportunities to learn more about the hazards one might encounter in the workplace. Refer to the “Chemical Hygiene Plan” for more information on these resources.
Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratories
Proper safe working practices should be followed at all times. Everyone who works in a laboratory should strive to protect themselves, their colleagues, the equipment in the laboratories and the building, even if and especially if this means making an extra effort when setting up an experiment, carrying it out and cleaning up afterwards.
All chemicals brought into AMCaT laboratories must be properly labeled and bear the owner’s name and the date it was purchased.
A selection of certain common chemicals will be kept on hand. Everyone is free to use them, but not to remove them from the laboratories. Any chemicals brought into central facilities or mixed in AMCaT laboratories must be removed as soon as the work is completed. Users cannot store their chemicals or chemical waste in these laboratories for any longer than their experiment runs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Each laboratory is equipped with the types of personal protective equipment appropriate for the type of work done in the laboratory. This generally consists of:
One or more chemical-resistant aprons.
One or more pairs of chemical-resistant and/or heat-resistant gloves.
Goggles and face shields.
Users are encouraged to supply their own personal protective equipment, and larger groups of people (classes) will certainly have to provide their own.
Everyone who works in AMCaT laboratories is required to attend the Department of Materials Science & Engineering’s annual safety seminar or its equivalent, if one is from another department. Specified safety courses on specific laboratory hazards and safe practices are also required. Records of this training and any other specialized training for use of the equipment in these laboratories will be kept on file in the department’s database.
Enforcement of the Safety Rules
Enforcement is only necessary when someone persists in working in a manner hazardous to themselves, those around them, the equipment in the laboratory or the building. Enforcement is rarely necessary, but when it is, it can take the form of a reprimand, a temporary suspension or even a termination of employment. Departmental safety officers may also close any laboratory where serious hazards exist.
Unsafe activities cannot be tolerated. The liabilities and the costs of repairing the facilities are too great, not to mention the human costs of injured researchers. If polite reminders and/or additional training do not end the unsafe practice, the offending person will be temporarily banned from the laboratory. Flagrant or persistent disregard for the safety of the laboratory and people in it will result in permanent banishment from all AMCaT laboratories.
Other Sources of Information on Laboratory Safety
The Department of Environmental Health and Safety maintains a web site that offers a huge amount of information on topics including 1-2 page Safety Nets, schedules of safety training, chemical inventories for each laboratory on campus, waste disposal information, forms, online exams and more.