Laboratory environments contain materials, processes, and equipment that represent potential hazards to health and safety. The multidisciplinary research conducted at the LLE facility makes it imperative that personnel be aware of the risks and hazards associated with his or her work. This is especially true in a research environment, when hazards may lie outside an individual’s expertise. In such a situation, lack of attention to safety, whether caused by indifference, lack of information, haste, poor experimental design, or faulty equipment, can have dire consequences.
The principal hazards that can be found in the laboratory work environment include
- Physical hazards – Lasers, magnetic fields, ionizing radiation (UV, gamma radiation, x rays), microwave radiation, ultrasound, noise, and apparatus under pressure or vacuum
- Chemical hazards – Materials that are flammable, combustible, toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic (cause birth defects), oxidizers, reactive, or corrosive
- Radiation hazards – Direct radiation produced from radiation producing device/experiments, e.g., x-ray generators, OMEGA & MTW experiments and radioactive isotopes used in experimental activities.
- Fire hazards – Flammable and combustible materials
- Electrical hazards – Sources of high voltage, current, or situations where electrical discharge could occur
Ensuring a safe working environment at the LLE facility is a responsibility shared by all of its faculty, staff, students, and visitors. View our Safety Philosophy (pdf: 529 KB)
Several areas of responsibility include the following:
- The University’s and LLE’s responsibilities include providing and maintaining a safe working environment, establishing safety guidelines and protocols, and monitoring to ensure regulatory compliance and employee safety.
- The Safety Officers are responsible for providing training and support and guidance in safety-related issues for their specific areas of expertise (chemical, electrical, fire, laser, mechanical, and radiation), identifying potential hazards, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations and directives through periodic inspection of work areas and implementation and review of new and existing LLE safety directives and instructions.
- Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that subordinates receive specific information and training on hazardous materials, lasers and other equipment with which they work and verifying that appropriate personal protective equipment is worn for all experimental activities. The supervisor is also expected to enforce the adoption of safe work practices in his or her work area.
- Laboratory staff and students are responsible for completing required safety training and knowing the potential hazards of materials and equipment before beginning experiments, following established safety protocols, using appropriate PPE to minimize exposure and reduce risk, and identifying and reporting potentially hazardous situations to their supervisor or the relevant safety officer.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility
- Compliance with safety procedures is MANDATORY.
- If an activity or practice seems unsafe, “Stop Work” and take time to address concerns.
- Actions to be taken for Medical Emergencies must be known by all employees and communicated to visitors.
- All hands must respond properly to Fire Alarms.
- LLE and Omega Laser Facility access must be controlled for reasons of security and physical protection.
- Employees and visitors alike must respect clean rooms.