Safety Matters

Safety is the responsibility of everyone in the department. Students, teaching assistants, staff and professors all share this obligation.

The Laney-Manion Building Emergency Plan describes how to respond to hazardous situations such as fires, hazardous chemicals and dangerous individuals with guns.

The Chemistry Department maintains a chemical hygiene plan designed to protect the health and safety of all who work in the department and designates best practices for storing and handling chemicals. Additional departmental guidelines for Biosafety, Laser Safety , and Gas Cylinder Safety are also available to help the Chemistry Department follow safe practices in the various fields of chemistry.

Safety training is required of all UCA personnel responsible for supervising instructional laboratories including undergraduate teaching assistants. For a refresher on common lab techniques and safety, please watch this video.

The American Chemical Society advocates for best practices in the laboratory and careful stewardship of chemical and equipment resources. It’s 2015 guidelines for ACS-approved programs emphasize this (p. 18):

“Approved programs need to promote a safety-conscious culture in which students demonstrate and apply their understanding of the concepts of safe laboratory practices… Students must undergo general safety instruction as well as lab-specific instruction before beginning undergraduate research. Classroom and laboratory discussions need to stress safe practices and should actively engage students in the evaluation and assessment of safety risks associated with laboratory experiences.”

The department offers a very active undergraduate research program for its students. This introduces additional safety and chemical hygiene considerations that often go beyond more general academic laboratory settings.The ACS provides guidelines and best practices applicable to research laboratory settings in its 2015 publication, Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories.

The ACS further supports best-practices in lab safety through its Division of Chemical Health and Safety.

In 2012 the ACS sponsored a report on “safety culture” in academic laboratories.

Good guidelines for separation and storage of chemicals are provided by Indiana University.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public and the environment.

The National Association of Scientific Materials Managers (NAOSMM) is a resource for stockroom managers and anyone tasked with storing and using potentially toxic or hazardous chemicals.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also provides a chemical safety page.

Material Safety Data Sheets are available at the following web sites:




Chemical hazards are indicated using the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) diamond shown at right. A larger number (0-4) indicates that a material is more hazardous under NFPA guidelines.

An alternate method of communicating chemical hazards is being adopted by the US and other countries over the past decade. This new approach is termed the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The genesis of GHS is described at this website. A smaller number (1-4) indicates that a material is more hazardous under GHS guidelines.