Prof. Eichhorn
Dr. Catherine EichhornSafety Committee co-Chair
723 Hamilton Hall
(402) 472-2426

Prof. Morton
Dr. Martha MortonSafety Committee co-Chair
834 Hamilton Hall
(402) 472-6255

UNL Environmental Health & Safety
3630 East Campus Loop
Lincoln, NE 68583-0824
(402) 472-4925 (voice)
(402) 472-9650 (fax)
UNL Radiation Safety Officer
Joel Webb, CHP
(402) 472-2157
UNL Biosafety Officer
Matthew Anderson, PhD, RBP
(402) 472-9554

Safety/Chemical Hygiene Plan

Areas of Safety

Safety Training
Safety Training
Safety Documents and Materials Data Sheets
Safety documents, SDS/MSDS info, and useful links/contacts
Personal Protective Equipment
Protective Equipment and Engineering Controls
Best Practices
Best Practices
Chemical Safety/Hygiene
Chemical Safety/Hygiene


Emergency Procedures
Call 911 or (402) 472-2222 from the nearest telephone
Medical Emergency - Dial 911 or 472-2222 from the nearest telephone

Alarms/Notifications (Fire, tornado, chemical spill)
Fire and/or Explosion
Fire Extinguisher Operation
Chemical Spills
Injury Accidents and Medical Emergencies
Required Accident/Injury Reporting


Fire: Voice notification, sound, and flashing light. Exit the building as soon as you hear the alarm; fire or smoke can quickly block your escape routes.

  • Experiments in progress: Turn off the power to equipment (solvent stills, heating mantles, etc.) if you can do so without delaying your departure more than a few seconds. After evacuating the building, if you realize that an unattended laboratory operation may pose a safety problem, inform the UNL Police, Lincoln Fire & Rescue, or a member of the Chemistry safety committee.

Close laboratory or office doors and head for the nearest stairs. If your first choice is blocked by fire or heavy smoke, try an alternate route.

  • Elevators will not work during a fire. (If you are already on an elevator, it will descend to the first floor, and remain there).

Move away from the building. Assemble with your lab or office mates in the Sheldon parking lot. DO NOT reenter the building until an “all clear” is given.

  • If you believe someone remains trapped in the building, notify a member of the UNL police or Lincoln Fire & Rescue (one or both will be near the building doors).

Tornado: Voice notification, flashing light.
STAY INSIDE. Go to the BASEMENT or to the NORTH hallway of a lower floor. The elevators WILL work, and may be used. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. The tornado may shatter windows and create flying glass debris. Avoid the large lecture rooms. The City of Lincoln tornado alarm may sound before the campus tornado alarm. If you hear the city alarm, obey it -- seek shelter immediately.

Dangerous Chemical Spill: May be “Continuous Buzzer” or Fire Alarm.
Exit the building as rapidly as possible. If the spill or dangerous fumes block your path, retreat and try another stairwell. Note: The elevator will not work if someone has pulled the fire alarm as a way of altering the building.

UNL Alerts Message: If you receive a UNL Alert message, read it closely to see if you need to take action.
Sign up for UNL Alerts (, to receive text and e-mail alerts regarding active crime situations, gas leaks, floods, etc.


A MAJOR fire or explosion includes:

  • Any fire or explosion that generates toxic smoke or fumes or unknown hazards.
  • Places you in any danger and/or threatens your safe retreat.
  • Involves a large amount of flammable materials (for example, a large solvent fire or a fire that has already spread beyond a hood or a trash can). For a MAJOR fire, your primary duty is to sound the alarm and then get to safety!
  • DO NOT waste time trying to use a fire extinguisher on a major fire.
  • Close the doors to the lab in order to contain blaze or chemical fumes.
  • Actuate a fire alarm (red pull station found near each corner stairwell on floors 2-8). If you cannot do this without being in danger, go to another floor or call the emergency operator (next section) once you are clear.
  • If you can do so safely, inform the emergency operator of the location and nature of the fire (any special hazards you know of?), and whether anyone has been injured. Use:
    • The Red phone in the hallway;
    • 911 or 402-472-2222 from your cell;
    • 2-2222 or 9-911 or 0 from any campus phone.
  • Exit the building. Gather with others from your lab or office in the Sheldon parking lot.

A SMALL fire or explosion is one where

  • You are in no immediate danger and no one is injured.
  • You are not alone, and you have a clear path of retreat in case things get worse.
  • The fire is contained to a small area (a hood, a trash can) and you are confident you can extinguish the fire with the contents of a single fire extinguisher.
  • If a small fire gets out of control or begins to scare you, back away and follow the procedures described above for a major fire.

If someone is one fire, extinguish the flames using a safety shower and then call for help using 911, 402-472-2222 (2-2222 from lab/office phones), or the Red phones in the hallway. Consult the section on "Injuries" for more details.


A MAJOR spill involves:

  • Any spill that puts you in danger;
  • Any spill of flammable, toxic, or corrosive liquids or gases, or materials of unknown toxicity, in poorly ventilated and high traffic spaces such as an elevator, stairwell, or classroom
  • Any spill of a volatile and toxic material that could produce death or serious injury upon short exposure (an example would be anything a GHS rating of "1" for inhalation toxicity or toxicity through dermal absorption.
  • Any spill involving large amounts (for example, > 4L) of flammable solvents or highly corrosive materials;

For a MAJOR spill, retreat to a safe distance, sound the alarm, and then help protect others:

  • Yell for help to alert others nearby and to get assistance.
  • Pull the fire alarm located near any of the corners of Hamilton Hall. If this location is not safe, one of you should go to another floor or call 911 from outside.
  • Use a Red phone in the hallway, your cell phone (911 or 402-472-2222), or an office phone (0 or 2-2222) to inform the emergency operator of the location of the spill, whether anyone has been injured, and what you know about the chemical.
  • Ask someone to print off an SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for the spilled chemical; emergency responders will find this helpful.
  • If you can do so safely, guard the hallway or use chairs or trash cans or can find to prevent others from accidently being exposed. Make sure you are at a safe distance. If you can do so safely, stay nearby (for example, near the elevator or in the lobby on the 1st floor, to advise the Safety Committee members or emergency responders. However, if fumes or smoke are placing you in danger, you need to leave.

Chemical exposure/chemical burn: Time is critical. REMOVE the chemical immediately using a safety shower. Take off your lab coat and step under the shower. Remove contaminated clothes while the shower is running. Keep using the shower until you are confident the chemical has been removed. (A lab coat can be used as a cover up until dry clothes can be arranged).

  • For a splash to the eyes, use an eye wash; for exposure to hands or arms, use the sink.
  • If you have been exposed to a water-reactive material such as lithium aluminum hydride powder or suspension, and it has not caught on fire; take off your lab coat or outer clothing before stepping under the shower.

MINOR Chemical Spills
You can clean up spills yourself when:

  • You are familiar with the spilled material and are sure that you are not in danger.
  • The spill occurs in a well-ventilated area;
  • You are not alone;
  • You have access to an adequate spill kit. Appropriate absorbent materials or commercial spill kits are available. See
  • Wear appropriate gloves (check glove compatibility), a lab coat, and eye protection;
  • Build a “dam” of absorbent powder or adsorbent spill pads so that the spilled chemical does not “run” under cabinets or inaccessible spots. Add additional absorbent to soak up the bulk of the spilled chemical. Do not clean up spills with paper or cloth towels unless you know that he material is nontoxic and that the gloves you are using will resist penetration.
  • Use a brush and dustpan to transfer the absorbent into dustpan into a zip-loc bag (small amounts) or a plastic bucket (larger amounts). Place the bag or bucket, along with any cloths or paper in a fume hood (exhaust cabinet) and call EHS (2-4925 or 402-472-4925) to arrange disposal.

Special case: Mercury
Minimize use of mercury. If mercury must be used, you must use secondary containment (for example, a plastic catch basin under a mercury manometer). If mercury is spilled:

  • Block off the area with chairs, waste cans or other objects so that others do not track through the area and spread the mercury further.
  • Contact EH&S (2-4925). They will come over and use specialized equipment to remove all mercury.
  • Broken mercury-containing apparatus should be placed in a zip-loc bag for pickup by EH&S. Alcohol thermometers or digital thermometers should be used to replace mercury thermometers whenever possible. Similarly, use of mercury in manometers or bubblers should be minimized. If significant quantities of mercury must be used (bubbler, manometer), the mercury-containing device must be in a secondary container (for example, a plastic tub) capable of capturing mercury in the event of breakage.


Apply First Aid. Yell for help. Call 911 or 472-2222 (on a campus phone) or use the red phones located at the center of the north/south hallway” on most floors of Hamilton Hall. Tell the operator that you are reporting an injury emergency. Give your location (Hamilton Hall, room number or floor) before trying to go into more detail.
Stay on the phone until the operator has the information they need. If you are asked about an address, you can give 639 North 12th Street, Lincoln, NE

  • For a chemical exposure, continue rinsing the exposed area until emergency response arrives. Ask someone to help in printing off a safety data sheet for the chemical.
  • If there is risk of exposure to blood or bodily fluids, see if there are any disposable gloves nearby (usually are in most labs).
  • Ask the injured person if there is anyone else who should be notified (spouse, etc.).
  • If possible, have someone go down to the lobby to meet emergency responders and help guide them to the location of the injured person.

Overview of Procedures

Injury Flowchart

Injuries: Definition and Suggested Response

Minor Injuries

Cuts, burns, or bruises that do not present a serious health risk;

  • Typically treatable with routine first aid supplies
    • Stop bleeding with compression or a bandage.
    • In the case of minor chemical exposure, rinse affected area thoroughly.
    • Burns: hold under cool/cold water for several minutes.
  • Must be reported (section 4: Required Injury Reporting)
  • First aid kits
  • Injury SOP

Seek medical attention if the bleeding will not stop or if the injury appears to worsen. Someone should accompany the injured person for any trip to the Health Center or an off-site clinic.

Moderate Injuries

Require nonemergency treatment or evaluation by a medical professional. At least one person (two is better) should accompany the injured person for medical treatment.

  • Examples:
    • Foreign object or any chemical in the eye;
    • Inhalation of a chemical carrying a 1 or 2 GHS Hazard rating or any inhalation exposure that results in trouble breathing.
    • Second degree burns (burns, blisters, some thickening of skin) that involve a widespread area of the body, particularly face, hands, groin, or feet.
    • Any third-degree burns (described below) unless limited to a very small area like a finger-tip.
    • Any bleeding that does not stop within 5 minutes even after compression or bandaging.
    • Any bleeding that does not stop within 5 minutes even after compression or bandaging.
    • Any accidental ingestion or aspiration of a chemical carrying any GHS warning for ingestion or aspiration toxicity.
  • Procedures:
    • Apply first aid as for a minor injury.
    • Someone (two is better) should assist the injured person to a medical facility (see "Where to go"). For chemical exposure, be sure to take along a Safety Data Sheet (MSDS or SDS).
  • Injury SOP

Major Injuries

Prompt action is required to prevent loss of life or permanent injury.

  • Examples:
    • Major bleeding (for example, "arterial" bleeding -blood spurts);
    • Third degree burns (skin is black, brown, yellow or white; surface may look leathery; no pain may be felt because of nerve damage);
    • Seizures; symptoms of stroke; symptoms of heart attack;
    • Any loss of consciousness;
    • Difficulty in breathing,
  • Yell for help-you will need others.
  • Call 911 or 2-2222 (campus phone) or use the red phones located at the center of the north/south hallway” on most floors of Hamilton Hall.
    • Tell the operator that you are reporting an injury emergency. Give your location (Hamilton Hall, room number or floor) before trying to go into more detail. Stay on the phone until the operator has the information they need. If you are asked about an address, use 639 North 12th Street, Lincoln, NE.
  • Apply first aid:
    • If there is risk of exposure to blood or bodily fluids, put on disposable gloves and safety glasses.
    • For a chemical exposure, continue rinsing the exposed area until emergency response arrives.
  • Ask someone to help in printing off a safety data sheet for the chemical.
  • While the injured person is conscious, ask them if there is anyone who should be notified.
  • Send someone to the 1st floor to help guide emergency responders.

Where to go for treatment

Hospital Emergency RoomsCall 911 or 402-472-2222 for emergency service
BryanLGH East 1600 S. 48th Street Emergency: (402) 481-3142
General: (402) 489-0200
Walk in 24/7
BryanLGH West 2300 S. 16th Street Emergency: (402) 481-5142
General: (402) 481-1111
Walk in 24/7
St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Ctr 555 S. 70th Street Emergency: (402) 219-7142
General: (402) 219-8000
Walk in 24/7

Student injuries that are minor or moderate can be seen during the day (M-Thu 8-6, Fridays 8-5; Saturdays 8-noon) at the University Health Center (1500 "U" Street, 402-472-5000). It is helpful, but not required, to have someone call while the person is in transit, especially if it is a chemical exposure.

Facility Hours (Academic Year) Phone Comments
University Health Center M-Th: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fri: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sat: 9 a.m.-noon
(402) 472-5000
Students registered for ≤ 7 cr hrs may have to pay a facility fee. For serious cuts or lacerations, go to an emergency room.
Telephone Line-to-Care (ask a nurse) M-Th 5 p.m.-8 a.m.
24 hr service 4 p.m. Fri until 8 a.m. Mon.
(402) 219-7000 Medical advice only. Useful for "Should I see a doctor?"

If the Health Center is closed (for example, late afternoon lab), you do not need to seek preauthorization; go directly to an emergency room (above) or a clinic (listed below).

Employees, students on payroll, visiting scientists, and students (after hours)
UNL employees (includes graduate research assistants, undergraduates performing research as hourly employees, and UCARE) may seek medical attention from their personal physician or at a medical facility of their choice. Following is a list of some nearby medical facilities. Use of emergency rooms should be reserved for after-hours care and severe injuries or illnesses. Injured employees should bring their employee ID card. Students who are not conducting work for compensation by UNL at the time of their injury/illness should seek medical treatment at the University Health Center or their own private physician if this is feasible but may seek treatment at an emergency room or clinic for injuries after normal Health Center hours. (from

Urgent Care Clinics (walk-up appointments)
Facility Hours Location Phone
Linc-Care M-Sat: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
North: 5000 N. 26th #300
South: 3910 Village Drive
North: (402) 435-2060
South: (402) 434-7383
Express Care M-F 8 a.m.–6 p.m.;
Sat/Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
201 Capitol Beach Blvd (West O)
3740 N 27th (N of Cornhusker Highway)
Capitol Beach Blvd: (402) 435-0228
N 27th: (402) 423-0396
Company Care Walk in
M-F 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
5000 N. 26th (inside Autumn Ridge Medical Center, off of North 27th) (402) 475-6656

TURN OFF THE WATER. To arrange for clean up, call the Building Manager, Dodie Eveleth: (402) 472-5312 or; if the emergency occurs after hours, dial the operator “0” or 402-472-2222. Prevention is the watchword:

  • Turn off water lines that are not in use.
  • Always secure hoses onto fittings. A number of vendors sell small “tubing clamps” that will prevent tubing from slipping off of hose adapters.
  • Secure drain hoses. A simple and useful technique is to secure tubing with a three-finger clamp so that it does not “leap out” of the drain and cause a flood.

The department has suffered considerable losses due to theft, and there is always a danger of physical harm from unauthorized personnel present after normal hours. If you notice a suspicious person in the hallways of Hamilton Hall, do not hesitate to call the Campus Police. In the hallways, all you have to do is lift the red emergency telephone. You do not have to say anything. The police will come to investigate. Other telephones can also be used, if you prefer (dial 2-2222 (“dial 2 for blue”)); be prepared to tell the operator why you called.


You must alert the safety committee chair about any accident/incident: Martha Morton, ( and Catherine Eichhorn ( Your message should indicate:

  • The time and location of the incident and the identity of the injured person.
  • The nature of the injury and a description of any first aid administered.
  • A description of any medical response was involved -clinic vs. emergency room; was the individual transported by ambulance or personal vehicle? Did the injury require a hospital stay?

In the case of a student injury in a classroom or teaching lab, you must also complete the Student Injury/Illness reporter:

If you were treated at the Univ. Health Center or any clinic for a work-related injury, it is likely that you filled out "Workman's Compensation" forms related to workplace injuries. These forms will automatically be forwarded to UNL EHS.

We work actively to learn from incidents and your report may help prevent future accidents and injuries. Even if the accident results in only minor injury (or no injury at all), we ask you to report it to the Safety Chair and the EHS "Near Miss" website:


Anyone working or conducting research in Hamilton Hall (including faculty, postdoctoral researchers, staff, graduate students, undergraduate researchers, interns/volunteers, or visiting researchers) must complete the appropriate university training described in section A and departmental safety training (described in section B).

The following do not require training: students whose only chemistry-related activity is enrollment in an undergraduate teaching lab; short-term visitors (e.g., tour visitors) whose activities will not involve handling of hazardous materials and who will be supervised at all times.   For questions about any other possible exclusions, contact the Safety Committee (Chair:  Pat Dussault,; co-Chair: Martha Morton,


Most individuals will need to complete EHS training (#1-5) and Chemistry Department "chemical hazard" training unless they have attended an in-person  EHS training session covering the same material.

A shorter departmental training set may be possible for individuals whose research or work is not expected to result in ANY exposure to hazardous materials (examples:  visiting scholars, postdocs, or undergraduate researchers in Francisco, Li, M. Stains, or X. Zeng groups).   Contact Prof. Dussault if you believe this describes your situation. 

Individuals whose research or work will involve specialized equipment or hazards (e.g., radioactive materials, biosafety, use of autoclaves) may need to complete additional EHS training. Talk to your supervisor/PI/director and look at:

Part A: EHS Training Procedures (on-line)
Part B: Departmental Training Procedures
Training PowerPoint (research/study including any hazardous materials ~ chemicals)
Training PowerPoint (research/study will not any hazardous materials)

PART A: Environmental Health and Safety training

Note:  Registration for online courses provided through this website requires an NU ID number. Please save (PDF) your certificates for completion of each module. 

EHS#1: Core - Injury/Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).

Required for all employees who get a paycheck from UNL.  You must pass a quiz with an 80% score to successfully complete this module.  Estimated time:  45 minutes.  You will need to provide your NU ID number to register. 

EHS#2:  Core - Emergency Preparedness Training.

You must the Core-Injury Illness and Prevention Plan (IIPP) module described above first.  You must pass a quiz with an 80% score to successfully complete this module.  Estimated time:  45 minutes.  You will need to provide your NU ID number to register. 

EHS#3:  Chemical Safety Training  (four individual units):

Unit 1: OSHA Standards, Safety Data Sheets, Labels, and Door Postings

Unit 2:  Physical Hazards of Chemicals

Unit 3:  Health Hazards of Chemicals

Unit 4:  Hazard Mitigation

Must be completed once by anyone whose work or research may bring them into contact with hazardous chemicals; this includes most personnel in Hamilton Hall.

 This module consists of four units; each unit requires approximately 30 minutes for completion.  ALL FOUR UNITS must be successfully completed to meet the requirement.  There is a quiz following each unit. You must pass all four unit quizzes with an 80% score to complete this training module successfully.

You will need to provide your NU ID number to register. 

EHS#4:  Fire Extinguisher Training.

Required once for employees who may opt to use a fire extinguisher. The "Core-Emergency Preparedness" training (#2, above) is a pre-requisite to this course.

Once you have completed the web-based training portion, you may participate in a supplementary hands-on training session. Contact Environmental Health & Safety for more information at (402) 472-4925 or   

This training may be replaced by an instructor-led session.

You must pass a quiz with an 80% score to successfully complete this module.  Estimated time:  30 minutes.  You will need to provide your NU ID number to register.

EHS#5 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Must be completed once by anyone whose work or research may require use of PPE (for example, gloves, goggles). Most personnel in Hamilton Hall will need to take this training.    This training may be replaced by an instructor-led session.

This training provides general instruction regarding assessment of hazards, selection of PPE, and appropriate use of PPE This training is appropriate for persons who are responsible to select and provide PPE to employees, as well as employees who are required to wear PPE. This training does not cover PPE related to blood borne pathogens and biological agents.  

You must pass a quiz with an 80% score to successfully complete this module. 

You will need to provide your NU ID number to register.

PART B: Department of Chemistry Safety Training

After you have completed the UNL EHS online modules described in PART A, you must also complete Chemistry Safety Training (see also "Safety Training" at

1.  Review the PowerPoint at:

UNLChem_training_hazard_versionJan2022.pptx (an alternate PowerPoint is available for those whose work will not involve hazardous materials (staff who do not work with hazardous materials; postdocs and UG researchers in Li, Moon, or Zeng groups)   https:// UNLChem_training_nonhazard-Jan2022.pptx

2. Take the online training assessment. To enter this website, you will ned to confirm that you have looked at the Youth Safety Policy, The Chemical Safety and Hygiene Plan and the appropriate power point presentation above. You must also provide PDF copies of the EHS certificates.

3. Additional safety training seminars are given in June, July, August, January and February on specific safety topics.  You can contact either of the Safety co-Chairs, Profs. Catherine Eichhorn ( or Martha Morton ( for more information.

Safety documents, SDS/MSDS info, and useful links/contacts

UNL Chemistry Safety Plan
Important Contacts
Hazard Assessment and Safety Data Sheets
Safety-related links (including SOPs)
Accident/Incident Reporting
Updating Door Placards

Important Contacts

UNL EHS (402-472-4925):

UNL Police:  Emergency:  402-472-2222 (2-2222 from campus phone) or 911.

Bryan LGH West (Nearest emergency room)  2300 S. 16th Street   402-481-1111

American Association of Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222; 24 hrs.)

UNL Health Center:  402-472-5000.

Note:  medical services available 8-5.  After hours or for any serious injury or chemical exposure, call 911 and/or go directly to the Bryan LGH West emergency room (above).  Any HF exposure should be treated at an emergency room.   

Hazardous Chemicals and Hazard Assessment

Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for hazard assessment (symbols and definitions):

Sources for GHS Information (Safety Data Sheets)

Sigma-Aldrich: Searching most chemicals (try "glacial acetic acid" will bring up options for order/purchase.  A link to SDS information will become visible once you click on a particular option (purity, amount). Alternatively, (direct SDS look-up by catalog number).

UCLA Safety Documents Site (includes info on toxins, select agents, carcinogens, others: - safety-data-sheets

Fire Diamond Ratings for common chemicals:

Safety-related Links

"The Safety Zone":

"The Safety Zone covers chemical safety issues in academic and industrial research labs as well as in manufacturing. The only blog of its kind, it serves as a unique forum for exchange and discussion of lab and plant safety and accident information."   Note:  Excellent links to wide range of chemical safety resources. 

UC Center for Laboratory Safety   Strengths:  training resources, lessons learned.

UCLA Safety Documents Site (includes info on toxins, select agents, carcinogens, others: - safety-data-sheets

American Chemical Society Committee on Chemical Safety (ACS-CCS): "CCS promotes and facilitates safe practices in chemical activities… publications, tips, and other information to improve safety in schools, the workplace, and beyond."

American Chemical Society Policy Statement on Safety:

Standard Operating Procedures/Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs):


UCLA:   Detailed SOPs over a variety of operations (handling alkyl lithium reagents; setting up solvent stills; handling compressed gases, etc.): - safety-data-sheets


Pistoia Alliance Chemical Safety Library:

"The Pistoia Alliance Chemical Safety Library project is dedicated to sharing previously inaccessible hazardous reaction information in the interest of increased laboratory and personal safety across the chemical industries. Previously, this information may only have been available within the company where the incident occurred. The Pistoia Alliance has now developed a data submission tool to capture, store and search such hazardous reaction information. You can input events to warn others, and you can check individual incidents or download the entire data set to use within your own systems.

By building a rich data source of hazardous reaction information through this tool, and making it easily accessible we can all improve safety for those scientist carrying out experiments in the lab."  UNL is affiliated but you must register using a university e-mail address; can search by reaction/structure.


See the section of this site related to Emergencies. 

Accident/Incident Reporting

All accidents or incidents, including any injuries requiring treatment, must be reported to the Safety Chair. Incidents involving  employee or student death, hospitalization,  or likely overexposure to toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, or etiologic agents must be immediately reported to EHS.

Student injuries should be logged with UNL EHS using the Injury/Illness reporter link below.   "Near miss" and "close calls" should be filed under the EHS reporting system (link below).

Student Injury/Illness Reporter

Near-Miss/Close Call Incident Reporting System

More about Employee Injury Reporting

Updating Door Placards (FAQ)

 Door Hazard/Emergency Contact Placards (Updated January 2021)

Protective Equipment and Engineering Controls

For more information, see Sections 3 and 4 of the Department of Chemistry Safety and Chemical Hygiene Plan

Protective Equipment vs. Hazard
Eye Protection
Eye Wash Fountains/Safety Showers
Hand Protection/Gloves
Lab Coats, Aprons, and Clothing
Engineering Controls: Hoods

Protective Equipment vs. Hazard

Researchers should assess the potential hazard of any experiment in advance.  This includes the properties of the reagents/solvents (GHS warnings), the anticipated properties of the products, the nature of the equipment employed, and the potential hazard of the reaction:  is it highly exothermic? does it have the potential for release of a significant volume of gas or formation of unstable/explosive intermediates? This information should be used to determine the engineering controls (for example hoods, shields-see below) and personal protective equipment required. 

•Discuss the planned experiment with more experienced students and/or the laboratory director.

•See the UNL EHS Standard Operating Procedures on Chemical Hazard Assessment and Risk Minimization and Health Hazard Assessment & Risk Minimization (  

•Contact the Safety Chair and/or UNL EHS with any concerns(see contacts on Web page).

Eye Protection

You must, by Nebraska law, wear approved safety glasses or goggles in labs or chemical facilities in Hamilton Hall.  The only exceptions are offices, conference rooms, lounges, classrooms, hallways, elevators and the following labs: Prof. M. Stains lab; "NC3" labs on 4th floor (Zeng, Li, Francisco). Contact the Safety Chair for more information.

Additional Eye Protection:  A face shield should be used in addition to safety glasses or goggles for experiments where there is a chance of a violent chemical reaction or escape of corrosive or toxic chemicals (splash). The use of high power lasers requires additional eye protection and may require special door signage and lab modifications (anti-reflective curtains/wall coverings); consult with the lab director and/or UNL EHS Similar protective measures may be required for high intensity photochemical reactors.

Eye Wash Fountains/Safety Showers

If you suffer a splash of chemical in your eye, use the wash fountains immediately. Hold open your eyelids so that the stream of water is able to rinse the chemical from the eye surface. Continue washing for 15 minutes; if the pain is intolerable, use intermittent rinses.

An eyewash hose is located at the doorway to some of the older labs. Squeeze the nozzle to briefly clear the hose before the stream is passed over your eye. Do not worry about water on the floor. Eye wash fountains and eyewash hoses  must remain accessible and must be checked weekly.

Students who have suffered chemical exposure to the eye should always be accompanied to the Health Center, or, if the Health Center is closed, to an Emergency Room. Faculty or staff members should be accompanied to the Health Center (call ahead to make sure), a walk-in clinic, or an emergency room; see the section of this web site.

Safety showers are located just inside or just outside the doors of most lab areas-make sure you know the location of the nearest shower!  If someone is on fire, or has suffered a major chemical exposure, there is no time to talk. Yell for help while you push the person under the nearest shower. Pull the lever or chain to activate the shower and quickly remove contaminated clothing. Keep the person under the shower until you are sure all chemicals have been removed.  Have someone else bring a lab coat so the person can cover up later.

Hand Protection/Gloves

Hand protection is necessary for handling hazardous materials, when handling hot glassware, or when working with materials at very low temperature.  A variety of protective gloves are available through most major scientific suppliers.  Key principles:

•No one glove will provide resistance against all hazards; check with UNL EHS or the links on any supplier's website to make sure the glove is appropriate for the intended use. See:

•Disposable gloves are single use. They should be removed before leaving the lab or touching a doorknob or phone, they must be replaced after any exposure to chemicals. 

See the Safety and Chemical Hygiene Plan for more information. 


 Respirators or any device for respiratory protection (e.g. masks) may only be used by persons who have had appropriate health testing and fit testing of the respirator. Contact EH&S for more information (2-4925). 

Lab Coats, Aprons, and Clothing

Lab Coats: Personnel engaged in research must wear lab coats. The only exceptions are in areas where safety glasses are not required (see above) or when use of a lab coat would result in increased hazard (for example, working around equipment with moving parts). Lab coats made of fire-retardant-treated cotton/polyester are approved for general use in Hamilton; special Aramide lab coats are recommended if there is increased risk of fire. 

Aprons: Chemically resistant aprons should be worn over lab coats when added protection is required.

Shoes: Open-toed shoes (sandals, flip-flops, thongs) are forbidden in laboratories.  

Clothing:  Wear tight-fitting clothing composed of tightly woven fabrics (jeans are excellent) lacking ruffles, frills, and billowy (puffy) sleeves or leggings. Silk is considered a particularly flammable fabric and should not be worn as an outer layer. 

Jewelry:  Dangling jewelry is not appropriate for laboratory.

Hair:  Long hair should be tied back. A good test:  If your hair will come near the benchtop or the chemical operation when you bend over the bench, it needs to be tied back. 

Engineering Controls: Hoods

Exhaust (fume) hoods protect you by confining chemical vapors within the hood and exhausting them from the building.  Most work with hazardous materials should be done in a fume hood.  Note that laminar flow hoods-found in some of our analytical, bioorganic, or biophysical labs-protect the experiment and not the experimenter; laminar flow hoods are NOT designed for use with hazardous materials.

Keep the doors or "sash" of the hood closed whenever possible. This will prevent escape of chemicals and may prevent serious injury in the event of violent reaction.  If you are running a reaction that raises concerns about exothermicity or potential discharge of liquid, you should place an "explosion shield" around the reaction and then close the hood doors.  Contact the Safety Chair for more information. Note: The hood doors/sash are not designed to withstand a significant explosion.  


Links re good lab practices
Can this be discarded in the garbage or drain?
Avoiding floods
Policies for unattended reactions
Chemical Odors


ACS Safety Zone:  Safety news, reports on accidents, and excellent overall resource:

UC Center for Laboratory Safety:

UC Berkeley: fields)

ACS Chemical Health and Safety updates on accidents and investigations:

Links for best practices and protocols: Society Learn Chemistry site) focused).

Commonly ignored best practices:

Safety Library/Laboratory guides:

Laboratory Safety Guidance (OSHA):

Can I dispose of something in the garbage or drain (sewer)?

General guidance:

Radioactive materials:

Items not allowed in trash:

Reagent containers: 

Before disposal, chemical containers must be triple-rinsed with a suitable solvent (e.g. water for water-soluble materials; acetone for organics) and then allowed to dry.  The dried container should be marked as "EMPTY" and the original chemical name should be crossed out with an "X".  

Empty containers originally holding clean solvents with low boiling points can be directly air-dried. However, empty containers that once held peroxidation-susceptible solvents or reagents (THF, ether, dioxane) should be triple rinsed with acetone to ensure removal of any peroxide residue.

Small glass containers (test tubes, small vials) can be discarded with broken glass (lined cardboard box).  Larger containers (e.g. 500 mL bottles/jars and larger) should be put out with the trash.  Larger bottles (e.g. 2L and 4L) should be placed alongside trash cans.

Preventing Floods:

Even small floods can produce major damage.  Prevention is the watchword!

Do not leave cooling water running unattended unless absolutely necessary. For small-scale processes, consider using a closed loop based upon a submersible pump and a bucket.

Do your utmost to make sure that tubing is secured, and will not separate from the apparatus or “leap out” of the drain when the pressure surges. 

Rubber or plastic tubing must be secured to hose connectors (“nipples”) using special tubing clamps the hose connectors (e.g., and the drain hose  must be secured in the cup sink or sink. Tubing can be secured into a drain using a three-finger clamp. 

Hose connections (e.g. cooling water) for unattended operations MAY NOT use simple, slip-fit "quick connects" -floods are too common.  Instead, use either a semi-permanent coupling (connected hoses clamped or wired onto tubing) or (better), use a designed "shut-off" fitting (example:   

Simple “water flow” monitors can be used to ensure that the flow of water is not too large, leading to the difficulties directly above.

If a flood occurs:   Check for electrical hazards (an electrical cord or appliance in the water) before entering the space.  If you are unsure, STAY OUT and call for help.   If you can safely enter the space, TURN OFF THE WATER. Daytime:  Call the Building Manager (402-472-5312) or the Facilities Hotline (402-472-1550).  After hours:  If there is a minor flood, you can try to clean it up yourself. If the flood is major (water in the hallways or going through into the labs below), contact the campus operator at 402-472-2222 and tell them the situation; they have the ability to summon custodial services.

Unattended Reactions

Unattended reactions are defined as processes that will not be monitored for a period of at least four hours. Unattended reactions or operations (includes distillations, continuous extractions, etc.) should only be conducted when essential and when all of the factors below have been addressed:

1. Experimental design should focus on minimizing hazard of fire/chemical escape or spill/flood.    Thus, if you are going to heat a reaction overnight in an oil bath, remove all flammable items from the proximity of the set-up. 

2.  Do not heat unattended reactions or processes (e.g., solvent stills) unless the heating apparatus is thermostatted to maintain (and, in particular, to not exceed) the desired temperature or has adequate time to equilibrate to a stable temperature.  Never leave a reaction or process that is being heated until you are satisfied the temperature is stable. 

3.  Unattended mineral oil baths should not be heated beyond 80 °C due to the risk of fire (flash point of 113 °C).  Prolonged heating at higher temperature must employ silicon oil baths or heating mantles. 

4.  Do not leave cooling water running unattended unless absolutely necessary. For small-scale processes, consider using a submersible pump and a bucket to recycle a small volume of cooling water. 

If water must be left running, hosing must be secured to fittings (e.g., and the drain hose  must be secured in the cup sink or sink.

Hose connections (e.g. cooling water) for unattended operations MAY NOT use simple, slip-fit "quick connects" -floods are too common.  Instead, use either a semi-permanent coupling (connected hoses clamped or wired onto tubing) or (better), use a designed "shut-off" fitting (example:

5. Reactions or processes which have any significant potential for a major exotherm or fire, or which involve highly toxic components, should never be run unattended without prior approval of the experimental set-up from the PI or lab director.  Engineering controls must be observed.

Chemical Odors
Emergency situations:

If you encounter a very strong natural gas odor, leave the area (YELL to alert others) and contact the Business Manager or the Safety Chair. If you cannot find either of those individuals, contact the campus emergency operator at 402-472-2222 (2-2222 from a campus phone) and provide information about the location of the odor. 

If the smell of a chemical makes it difficult to breathe, makes your eyes water, or could be the odorant in natural gas, Leave the area. Warn others who are in the vicinity.

Daytime:  Contact the safety chair or the Business Manager and  make clear this is a serious situation.

After hours:  Contact the campus operator at 402-472-2222.

Minimizing odors:

We have had occasional problems with strong chemical odors remote from any obvious generation point.  The “vector” is nearly always drain water.  The Safety Committee requests use of the following procedures as a way of avoiding/minimizing this problem.

1) Disposal into the drain is not allowed for most solvents. The exception is ethanol, and then only if the solution is dilute (and is diluted further during disposal, see 

2) When conducting large-scale liquid/liquid extractions, do not directly discharge the aqueous phase into a drain. This is particularly important when dealing with solvents (for example, ether or dichloromethane) that have a strong odor and are slightly soluble in water.  We recommend the following practices for extractions:

a) Allow the aqueous wash to stand in a beaker or dish in a fume hood for a few minutes before disposal; 

b) Alternatively, use a small volume of a water-immiscible solvent such as hexane to do a final extraction of the aqueous layer. 

3)  When possible, use Teflon-vaned vacuum pumps (“Dry vacs”) as vacuum sources for rotary evaporators and any devices used for filtrations involving organic solvents.   If you are using water aspirators as vacuum sources for these applications, make sure to use an efficient condenser.  

4) Before disposal, 4L solvent bottles must be rinsed 2-3 times to remove residue solvents.  Always perform this procedure in a fume-hood or well-ventilated area.  The rinsate should be placed in a chemical waste container and the bottle placed in a fume hood until the traces of rinsing solvent are gone.  

5) For those potentially on the receiving end of odors (other labs and offices):  If you have a sink or cup sink in your lab or office area, try to run a small amount of water (15-30 sec from the tap) on a weekly basis. By keeping the drain trap filled, you will help minimize escape of any odors from the drain.  If you begin to detect chemical odors, try to run some water into the sink. If the problem persists, call the Building Manager (2-5312) or the Safety Chair (me, 2-6951) and we will try to track down the source.

Questions?  Contact the Safety Chair and/or the Business Manager.

Chemical Safety/Hygiene

For more information, refer to the indicated section(s) of the Safety and Chemical Hygiene Plan

Transportation of Chemicals and Gases
Storage of Chemicals and Gases
Special requirements
Chemical Risk Assessment
Chemical Disposal

Transportation of Chemicals and Gases

Movement of hazardous materials between labs must employ secondary containment, including additional segregation of incompatible materials. (Section 6)  Gas cylinders may be moved only with an approved cylinder cart and with a safety cap attached (Section 5).

Storage of Chemicals and Gases

Cylinders must be secured in an upright position and capped when not in use.  (Section 5)

Chemicals must be stored in an appropriate manner and segregated by compatibility.   For example, flammable materials must be stored in a flammable materials-rated cabinet or refrigerator, and must be kept apart from inorganic acids and strong oxidants. Peroxide-forming chemicals (see Section 6) must be periodically monitored during storage. Chemical containers must remained capped/closed when not in use (Section 6). Research labs must maintain an accurate inventory of chemicals; contact the research stockroom for assistance using the department. (Section 6)

Labeling: Commercial reagents, whether in original packing or repacked, must be labeled to permit unambiguous identification. The same is true for "durable" containers – those containing samples, products or solutions which will be used for more than one day or which enter a shared or public area.  Groups of associated containers (e.g., racks of vials) can be labeled collectively. (section 6). 

Unknown samples should be brought to the attention of the lab director, members of the Safety Committee, and/or UNL EHS as soon as possible (Section 6).

Special requirements

There are additional requirements for use of radioactive materials and select biohazards.  See Section 6 or contact the Biosafety or Radiation Safety Officers (see contact into on Safety page). Campus authorization is required for purchase or use of a number of toxic materials, toxins, and pathogens.  See Section 6 for additional information.  

Chemical Risk Assessment

Approach any new procedure -or any procedure which has changed significantly in scale or conditions- by thoroughly evaluating the hazards of the starting materials and reagents, the hazards of the reaction or activity, and the possible hazards of the products (Section 6). 

Chemical Disposal

Any chemical "waste", defined as any material destined for disposal (includes spent, recovered, and used chemicals) is subject to additional regulations. The short version (see Section 7 or contact EHS for more information: 402-472-4925;
•The waste must be accumulated in chemically compatible containers that must remain capped.
•The waste containers must be labeled with the full names of all significant components.
•Removal of the containers by EHS must be requested when the containers are full or when no additional accumulation is anticipated. 

Fire Extinguisher Operation

  • Locate the "KEY" (the round object)
  • Twist the "KEY" to break the stiff Nylon retaining cord
    • Then pull "KEY" out
    • Do not merely attempt to pull the key straight out, unless you are very strong.
  • Raise the nozzle in order to direct the stream of carbon dioxide
    • The CO2 will cool the fire, and restrict oxygen
    • The fire, lacking oxygen, should go out.
  • Squeeze the handle to begin operation. Aim at the base of the fire.
  • There are two main types of fire extinguishers
    • carbon dioxide
    • dry chemical (powder)
  • Often, but not always, they carry different colors.
    • In this case the carbon dioxide extinguisher is red, and the dry-chemical (powder) extinguisher is yellow.
    • Read the tag to know which you will use. The tag also should show the date the extinguisher was last serviced.
  • Carbon dioxide extinguishers are good, general purpose extinguishers.
  • Dry-chemical (powder) are used for difficult cases, say certain types of electrical fires.
    • AVOID using a dry-chemical extinguisher on a fellow human being.
    • The powder may get in the victim’s eye and cause irritation.