|Introduction to the Chemistry Lab: Safety Comes First|
One of the most important things that a chemistry instructor can teach students is how to handle themselves in a safe manner and how to react when and if an emergency should occur. Many students find learning a lot easier when they are actually obtaining the information on their own and through demonstrations rather than having someone simply tell them what they should and should not do. Discovery-based learning is an effective tool in educating safety. A safety unit was developed such that students will learn not only how to use the various safety devices in the laboratory, but also how to research the chemicals they will be working with prior to lab. Demonstrations prior to lab will further help students visualize the importance of safety.
Laboratory Safety Orientation
As a laboratory manager, one of this author’s primary concerns is safety training of his student employees, many of whom are pursuing careers in chemistry or chemical technology. It is very important to instill the proper safety habits and knowledge that will be required in professional laboratories. Nothing can replace hands-on or individual training, but time restrictions have led the author to require that the employees go through a web-based self-study course prior to active employment in the laboratory work area. The information presented here is the text that can be accessed at http://www.delta.edu/~slime/pact.html via the internet.
Laboratory Ventilation and Risk Assessment Exercise
Students are presented with a scenario that requires them to decide if it is safe to do an experiment in which certain amounts of volatile organic solvents are vaporized in a particular laboratory room. They need to find the TLV data for the solvents under consideration from the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for the compounds which can be retrieved on the Internet. They will also need to measure the volume of a laboratory room and the ventilation rate of the fume hoods in the laboratory.
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