Working with Flammables and Reactives in the Laboratory

Course Description:

This course covers lab safety as it relates to the safe handling of flammables and reactives in the lab. Workplace fires and explosions are not only common—but also deadly. By virtue of the type of work conducted in laboratories—including working with hazardous chemicals, mixing chemicals, high heat, and intense pressure—the risk of fire or explosion can be high. It is essential that lab workers know how to identify these hazards; how to properly handle flammable, reactive, and combustible materials to avoid fire and explosions; and how to respond should one occur.
By the end of this session, trainees will be able to:

  • Identify flammable and reactive hazards in the laboratory;
  • Define flammables, reactives, and combustibles;
  • Outline safe handling and storage for these materials;
  • Discuss methods of prevention; and
  • Discuss emergency response measures, safety equipment, and evacuation procedures.
Course Duration: 29 minutes

Why “Working with Flammables and Reactives in the Laboratory” Matters:

There are a variety of regulations and guidelines that govern the use, handling, and storage of flammable and reactive materials in the lab. Some are specific to the laboratory and others are not, but all are relevant to lab safety regarding fires and explosions.

  • Emergency action plans and fire prevention plans are required by federal rules under 29 CFR 1910.33 to 1910.39.
  • OSHA’s Flammable and Combustible Liquids Standard (29 CFR 1910.106) explains what these substances are, how to store and use them safely, and how to prevent contact between these liquids and ignition sources.

Key Points:

The key points from this course include:

  • Most chemicals in the lab are flammable and/or reactive. Follow labels, but when in doubt, assume flammability.
  • Always store and handle flammables and reactives according to guidelines.
  • Common sense and good housekeeping can avoid triggers for fires and explosions. A clean, organized lab goes a long way toward reducing hazards.
  • Quick response and knowledge of procedures are critical in an emergency. Know your lab and the chemicals being used there. Test yourself on knowing what the signs and labels mean. Practice on emergency equipment and participate in drills.
  • No Smoking! This is the number one rule to follow around flammables and reactives.

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