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Safety Guidelines for Working in Organic Chemistry Laboratory

Dr. Carol Zhang-Tulane University

General Rules
1. No student is allowed to work in the lab without the supervision of an instructor (your TA
or a designated person with qualifications).
2. Only the scheduled experiment can be performed in the lab. No unauthorized experiment
is permitted; alteration/modification of the lab procedure is not allowed unless it has been
checked and okay-ed by your instructor.
3. Eating, drinking, and chewing gum are not allowed in the lab. Chewing gum may absorb
chemicals from the laboratory. During the lab period, store your books and bags under
your bench, do not put them on top of the bench.
4. Keep your work area (fuming hood etc) orderly and clean. Keep shared areas of the
laboratory clean; this includes areas such as the balance area, sink area, side supply bench
facing the window and the storage fuming hood where the reagents, waste
containers/bottles are kept. It is especially important to keep the balance clean and free of
chemical spills.
5. Hands must be completely dry when handling electric plugs, grasp the electrical plug (not
the cord) when removing it from the socket. When using a hot plate, make sure that the
cord is not touching the hot surface of the hot plate, the cord will melt and expose
electrical wires. Unplug the hot plate before you leave the lab.
6. Avoid using any faulty equipment or damaged electric cords; damaged or exposed
electric cords could cause electrocution if touched, or trigger a fire if exposed to water,
report it immediately to your TA.
7. Experiments must be monitored while reactions are taking place or when heating, notify
your TA immediately if you notice unexpected chemical reaction of your experiment or
any unsafe condition. Report all accidents (chemical spill, broken glass, etc.) or/and
injuries (burn, cut, chemical splash etc.), no matter how minor to your TA immediately.
8. Do not run or walk quickly through the lab, before you back up, look behind you to make
sure no one is behind you that you might bump into.
9. Do not get involved in social conversation in the lab; focus on your work and avoid
distraction. No noise and any disruptive behavior will be tolerated.

10. Wash your hands before leaving the lab, be careful not to touch your eyes or other body
areas without thoroughly washing your hands first.

Personal Protection
1. Safety eyewear (goggle, safety glasses) must be worn at all times. Contact lenses
should not be worn during the organic lab period, as vapors and toxic fumes may get
trapped beneath the contact lenses and harm your eyes.
2. You must wear closed-toe shoes. Wear clothes that are made of cotton and can cover
your torso and legs at least to the knees. Short clothes and sandals are not allowed.
3. Long hair should be tied back so it does not fall into chemicals or onto a heating device.

Working with Chemicals

1. Never move a reagent bottle to your bench. Leave the bottle at its designated area (the
storage hood). Do not waste chemicals; do not take more than what is required.
Chemicals used in the laboratory are costly.

2. Be careful not to contaminate the chemicals. Dont put your spatula directly to take
the solid from the supply bottle , you will be contaminating the chemical. Instead,
pour solid directly into your container by tilting the bottle and rotating it to control
the amount dispensed. If the solid seems to be tightly packed and would not pour off,
close the container and then gently tap the bottle with the palm of your hand to loosen
up the caked solid.

3. Never to dip your medicine dropper directly into the supply reagent container.
Instead, transfer small amount into your container and then working with it using
your medicine dropper.

4. Dispose any left-over chemicals into the labeled waste container. Check with
your TA if you dont know how to dispose it.

5. Keep the flammable solvents, such as diethyl ether, acetone, hexanes, benzene,
toluene, ethyl acetate, ethanol, methanol, etc., away from your heating device. If
highly flammable solvents, such as diethyl ether, hexanes, are used, make sure no
open flame is present in the lab.

6. Make sure to re-cap ALL containers, including the reagent bottles and the waste
containers after each use!

7. Always hold the chemicals away from you; NEVER look directly over reaction flask,
separatory funnel (during work-up, after vigorous shaking), etc.

Disposing Chemical, Your Reaction Product, Etc.

1. After your product is recorded, analyzed and no longer needed, dispose it away the
same way as you dispose the left-over chemicals. For organic products generated
from the experiments, put it directly, or use a MINIMUM amount of acetone to
dissolve the product first, and then put it in the labeled Organic liquid waste
2. Silica gel and/or alumina wastes from column chromatography are collected in
designated solid waste container. But do not put ordinary wastes of inorganic
salts into the Solid Waste Containers unless otherwise specified. The small
amount of inorganic salts, such as magnesium sulfate, sodium chloride, potassium or
sodium carbonate (and bicarbonate), sodium sulfate, etc, would not pose a concern to
human health and can be carefully put into the trash bin or washed down the sink in
your fuming hood. But the left-over or unreacted aluminum chloride (AlCl 3)
must be disposed in the fuming hood, by carefully and slowly adding a small
amount of water first, as it will release HCl upon exposing to water or moisture.
3. The aqueous solutions from working-up your reaction can be carefully poured into
the sink in your fuming hood. Used filtered paper, gloves and other insoluble
material can be put in the trash bin (do NOT put them in the solid waste container or
the Glassware Waste Container).
4. Before you throw away your product vials, broken glassware, and other waste
glassware into the designated Glassware Waste Container, you must dispose the
content first!

Working with your glassware

1. You must clean all your glassware right after its use so it will be dry and ready
for your next lab. Do not use cracked or chipped glassware, ask your TA for a
2. Always lubricate the glass tube before inserting it in a rubber stopper and hold it close
to the end near the stopper. Protect your hands with a towel when inserting glass
tubing. Insert carefully with a gentle twisting motion.

3. Any broken glass must be cleaned up immediately, but dont attempt to clean it up
without notifying your TA first.
4. If ground glass stopper is stuck, report it to your TA. If you force the stopper off the
bottle or separatory funnel, you may experience chemical splash, burn and injuries.
5. Do not shake a thermometer after melting-point measurement. Lay thermometer on a
towel to cool, away from the edge of the lab bench.

Working with Hot Glassware/Equipment

1. Heated metals, glassware and ceramics stay hot for a long time. Allow plenty of time
for a hot metal to cool before touching it. Since you cannot tell from the appearance
of the metal, glass, or ceramics that it is still hot, you should test it by cautiously
bringing the back of your hand close to the metal to feel if heat is radiating from it.
2. Never heat a closed container, as pressure will build up which may cause the
container to explode.
3. After a reaction, do NOT immediately take down your hot flask (and/or other heated
glassware) and put it in contact with a cool surface or water. Doing so often cause the
glassware to crack or shatter which could result in injury.
4. When you heat a liquid in test tube, always point it away from you and your
neighbors. When venting your separatory funnel after vigorously shaking during a
work-up procedure, always point it away from you and your neighbors.

What to do in case of an accident?

Notify your instructor/TA of all accidents immediately
1. Burns: Small burns from touching hot objects should be placed under running cold
water for at least 20 minutes. Major burns need immediate medical attention.
2. Chemical Spills:
a. If chemicals splashed to your eyes or face, immediately get to the eye wash
station and flush your eyes with running water from an eyewash station for at
least 15 minutes. Open the eyelids with fingers to force the eyes to stay open
while flushing. If wearing contact lens, wash the eyes once, remove the contacts,
then continue washing for at least 15 minutes. Immediately seek medical
b. For large chemical spills on the body, get under the safety shower and flush the
affected area for at least 15 minutes. While under the shower, remove all

contaminated clothing. If your classmate spills chemicals on his/her body, help

him/her to the shower and notify your instructor/TA immediately.
c. For smaller chemical spills on you, rinse with large amounts of water for at least
15 minutes. Get your instructor/TAs attention.
d. If you break a mercury thermometer and spill mercury, do not try to clean it by
yourself, report it to your TA immediately (most of the thermometers we use are
not mercury-filled).
e. For a large chemical spill on the counter top or floor, immediately notify the
instructor/your TA (do not step on the spilled chemical), your instructor will
advise you about what to do. Chemical spills must be cleaned up immediately.
Dispose of the collected contaminated chemical as instructed. For small spills
that can be cleaned up with a small amount of paper towel, avoid letting the
chemicals soak through the paper (if it is liquid) and touch your hands.
3. Cuts: Small cuts should be rinsed to make sure the areas are free from chemicals.
Apply pressure if bleeding is extensive. Bandages can be found in the First-Aid kit.
Seek medical help immediately.
4. Fires: When your clothes catch on fire, do NOT run, as running enhances the supply
of air and intense the flames. Instead, DROP to the floor and ROLL to smother the
flames. People around you should: a) get the fire blanket and wrap you with it to
smother the flames and keep it away from face and neck. Never use a fire
extinguish directly on a person! b) Call Tulane police department for help. If the
fire is small and contained, for example, a fire in a flask/beaker, turn off your reaction
and use a cover plate, or a watch glass to cover/smother it; if the material that catches
on fire is not water reactive, you can smother off the fire with wet clothe.. If the fire
happens in the fuming hood, turn off your reaction, quick move away any and all
flammable material, and pull the lash down. Call for help if the situation escalates.
5. Earthquake: Turn off your reaction, the gas valve, stay away from falling objects.
Drop and cover in a safe area. Do NOT run or panic. Assess the situation and be
prepared to leave the building.

Reference: Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories for College and University

Students. A Publication of American Chemical Society Joint Board-Council Committee on
Chemical Safety. 7th Edition-Vol. 1

Commitment to Safety in the Laboratory

CHEM 2430 (Fall 2010): Organic Chemistry Lab II (Tulane University)
Lab Coordinator: Dr. Carol Zhang, 5035C Percival Stern Hall
E-mail: czhang1@tulane.edu; Phone: 862-3586
I have read: (A) the Safety Guidelines for Working in the Organic Chemistry Lab, (B)the syllabus of
CHEM 2430 for fall 2010 semester, by Dr. Carol Zhang, and watched (C) the safety video. I understand
and agree that it is my obligation to comply with the instructions/rules set the instructional documents given.
I understand that violation of the rules may result in dismissal from the lab or the course.
Sign & date below, then give this page to your TA in your first lab period before leaving for the day.

Your Name (Print)______________________

Your signature____________________

Laboratory class and section _________________________Date_________________