Unattended Operations-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, June 7, 2013

Unattended Operations

For example, we all recognize the necessity to perform work with volatile materials or hazardous emissions in a fume hood.  What happens when the hood malfunctions?   What happens when the power goes out in the lab or building?  Are there ways to alert people in the building of the potential risks in those situations?  Another example: 

Many processes involve water-cooled condensers.  What happens if the water to the building goes out?  What happens if the condenser tubing breaks or comes loose?  A flood could occur or hazardous gases may be released into the lab.  How can you warn people of the hazards?  And can you prevent the problems in the first place?

Here are some steps to take in your process evaluation:

  1.   What are the hazards of the process?  (Chemicals, emissions, gases?)
  2.   What could go wrong?  (Power or utility failure, hood failure, glassware or other equipment damage or failure)
  3.   What are your protective/preventive measures?  (Hood on back-up power, poison gas shut off, regular inspection of glassware, tubing, set-up, ensuring equipment is properly maintained, hazardous materials or condition alarms)
  4.   Are the people listed on your emergency door sign understanding of the hazards in the room?  (In the event of an emergency these contacts need to inform responders of the hazards in the laboratory.)
Please contact EH&S at 8-8182 if you have any questions about planning and preparation to have unattended operations in your lab, or if you need any assistance in the process.

By: Mark Banister, markb2@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-5616