Effective responses to laboratory accidents and emergencies require planning. Laboratory supervisors must ensure that workers know the appropriate response measures for accidents and emergencies, and the locations of spill control materials, personal protective equipment, emergency eyewashes, safety showers, and exits.

A. Fire

In the event of a fire the following protocol should be followed:

  1. Evacuate: make sure you and others are out of danger.
  2. Pull the fire alarm.
  3. Call 911 from a safe location.
  4. If you have been trained in the use of fire extinguishers, fight the fire from a position from which you can escape, only if you are confident that you will be successful. It is easy to underestimate a fire.
  5. A fire contained in a small vessel can usually be suffocated by covering the vessel with a lid.

B. Chemical Spills

In the event of a chemical spill, the individual(s) who caused the spill and their laboratory supervisor are responsible for prompt and proper cleanup. Laboratory supervisors are responsible for having spill control equipment appropriate for the chemicals being handled readily available.

The following are general guidelines for handling chemical spills:

  • Immediately alert area occupants and supervisor, and evacuate the area if necessary.
  • If the spill is large, if there has been a release to the environment, or if there is no one knowledgeable about spill clean-up available, call Campus Security at 814-641-3636.
  • Attend to people who may be contaminated: remove contaminated clothing immediately and flush skin with water for at least 15 minutes.
  • If a volatile, flammable material is spilled, immediately warn everyone, control sources of ignition and ventilate the area.
  • Protect floor drains or other means for environmental release using spill control socks, pads, and/or absorbents.
  • Decontaminate the surface where the spill occurred using a mild detergent and water, when appropriate.
  • Report all spills to your supervisor and to the Chemical Hygiene Officer.


C. Chemical Exposure

The following procedures should be followed in the event of chemical exposure. In all cases, the incident must be reported to the laboratory supervisor as soon as possible, regardless of severity. If an ambulance is needed, call 911-2 for Huntingdon Ambulance/Fire/Police.

  1. Chemicals on Skin
    • Immediately flush with water for no less than 15 minutes (except for Hydrofluoric acid, flammable solids, or > 10% Phenol; see below). For larger splashes, use the safety shower
    • Use caution when removing pullover shirts or sweaters to prevent contamination of eyes.
    • Do not use solvents to wash skin
    • Special procedures:
      1. For Flammable solids on skin, first brush off as much of the solid as possible, then proceed as described below.
      2. For Hydrofluoric acid, rinse with water for 5 minutes and apply calcium gluconate gel, then get immediate medical attention.
      3. For phenol concentrations > 10%, flush with water for 15 minutes or until the affected area turns from white to pink. Apply polyethylene glycol if available; do not use ethanol. Proceed as described above.
  2. Chemicals in Eyes
    • Immediately flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. The eyelids must be forcibly held open and eyes should be rotated to rinse all surfaces.
    • Remove contact lenses while rinsing. Do not lose time removing contacts before rinsing.
    • Seek medical attention regardless of the severity or apparent lack of severity.
  3. Chemical Inhalation
    • Close containers and move to fresh air.
    • Increase ventilation:
      • In VLCS laboratories, push the red Emergency Ventilation button.
      • In other laboratories, open windows.
    • If symptoms such as headache, nose or throat irritation, dizziness, or drowsiness persist seek medical attention. Carefully explain which chemicals were involved to health care providers.
  4. Other Exposures
    • For accidental ingestion of chemicals, immediately go to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital or call the PA Poison Center at 800-521-6110. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by a health care provider.
    • For accidental injection of chemicals, wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.

D. Illness & Injury

In the event of a minor cut or burn, immediate first aid may be given with supplies in first aid cabinets. Additional medical treatment may be obtained at the College Health and Wellness Center or J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital.

In the event of a medical emergency, call 911.

All laboratory work-related injuries and illnesses must be reported to supervisors and the Chemical Hygiene Officer as soon as possible, regardless of severity. Additionally, student injuries must be reported to Campus Security, and employee injuries (including student employees) must be reported to the Office of Human Resources.