is from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory web site and
illustrates problems resulting from not labeling containers. It
shows the problem and provides a solution that is applicable to
all facilities and industries.
Facility Manager's Information Center
A Laboratory employee was sprayed with an acid/oil mixture when a bulging container on a workbench burst as he approached. Fortunately, the employee was wearing protective clothing including a lab-coat and safety glasses, and the only skin exposure included a small amount of acid on part of his face and scalp. There were 12 restricted workdays due to the injury.
This incident demonstrates the necessity to evaluate processes for hazards resulting from abnormal termination of a chemical reaction. Two employees abnormally terminated an acid digestion prior to reaction completion, and placed the mixture into a capped 500-ml plastic bottle that was used to collect waste, without fully evaluating the potential hazards. (ISM Function 2--Analyze the Hazards)
The 500-ml bottle was not properly labeled as containing hazardous waste, nor was it suitable for this mixture. The container was placed on the workbench and left overnight, where the reaction between the acid and hydrocarbon oil continued. By morning, enough gaseous reaction products had accumulated in the plastic bottle to cause it to burst. (ISM Function 3--Implement Controls)
Evaluation of the personal protective equipment revealed that the protective eyewear (prescription safety glasses without side shields installed) in use was not the best protection available for this type of operation. Indirectly vented goggles would have provided a more appropriate level of protection. (ISM Function 3--Implement Controls)
The exposed employee and others nearby did not use the lab safety shower, nor did they call 911. The delay in removing the corrosive material from the employee¹s skin resulted in chemical burns and 12 restricted workdays. (ISM Function 3--Implement Controls)
1. Before deviating from normal procedures, be sure to analyze the potential hazards and ensure that appropriate controls are implemented.
2. Do not dispose of mixtures that have been intentionally prepared for a chemical reaction until it is known that the components have reacted fully.
3. Select proper waste containers and clearly label them so that subsequent users will be alerted to the hazards associated with the contents.
4. Carefully evaluate all operations to identify the best personal protective equipment.
5. In the event of an exposure to a hazardous material, use any available safety shower or eyewash, and alert the LLNL emergency services system by calling 911.