Lab policies

General Safety Considerations

Our lab has chemical, radiation, fire, cryogenics and electrical hazards. At a minimum, it is expected that:

  • Safety eyewear will always be worn
  • Gloves will always be worn.  Check the following link to make sure you use the right gloves for the right solvents:
  • Close-toed shoes will always be worn
  • Proper personal protection such as a labcoat or welding glasses will be used as needed
  • Proper waste disposal practices will be followed
  • All samples will be clearly labelled at all times; informational notecards (see next line) are REQUIRED. Unlabeled samples will be disposed of, no matter how valuable!
  • Workspaces and all equipment used will be cleaned up immediately after use
  • Always do a worst-case “what-if” analysis prior to running any experiment.

Required Training

  • Prior to any work, an introductory safety tour of the lab is required.
  • Training specific to each piece of equipment is required prior to use.
  • If working with any toxics (see chemical safety below), you MUST receive training from the authorized toxics trainer on proper workspace handling, cleanup, and disposal methods.

Equipment-Use Notecards

If you leave the lab while a piece of equipment is in use, there must be an easily visible note with the following information:

  • Chemical(s) present
  • Associated hazards if warranted
  • Name or initials
  • Dates/Times of equipment use, with defined start and end dates
  • Operating conditions (e.g. furnace temperatures and times, atmospheric gas, hot plate settings, etc.)

This policy exists not only to protect you and others in the lab, but also allows for a first responder to an incident (e.g. power outage) to identify malfunctioning or misbehaving systems.

Chemical Safety

Always consult Materials Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals that you use. The following chemicals and elements require special considerations:

Asbestos Cadmium (Cd) and its derivatives (CdO, CdCl2, etc) Lead (Pb) and its derivatives (PbO, PbCl2, etc)
Chromium 6+ (Cr6+) compounds Mercury (Hg) and its derivatives (HgO, HgCl2, etc) Chromium 0,3+,4+ (Cr0,3+,4+) compounds
Arsenic oxides (AsOx) Arsenic (As) metal and compounds Reactive metals (Na, K, Ba, etc)
Thallium oxides (TlOx) Thallium (Tl) metal and compounds Sulfur (S)/Selenium (Se)/Tellurium (Te) compounds
Osmium (Os) and its derivatives Selenium dioxide (SeO2) Antimony Oxides (SbOx)
Beryllium (Be) and its derivatives All others with an MSDS safety rating of “4”

The items in column one should never be brought into the facility or used. You must talk with me prior to using or bringing into the lab items in column two or three.  For column two, you must plan for special handling, area cleanup, and waste disposal procedures, as the chemicals in column two are defined as particularly hazardous (toxic). The items in column three can be used once we have discussed how to safely handle and store them.

Solvent Bottle Safety

Squirt bottles should only be filled with the reagent whose name is embedded on the bottle (printed in blue, red, green, etc). Do not “relabel” a bottle by printing a label and putting it over the embedded name. For reagents where we do not have a squirt bottle with the appropriate embedded name, you can order one or buy one from campus supply.

Cryogenic Safety

All users of users of cryogenic materials, including liquid nitrogen, must receive appropriate training on safety, starting with the MSU health and safety online course) In addition to those requirements, at a minimum:

  • ensure proper ventilation,
  • never disable safety pressure relief devices,
  • use appropriate clothing,
  • and never leave a liquid nitrogen transfer unattended.

Radiation Safety

All users of radiation-generating equipment must receive appropriate training on safety (starting with the MSU health and safety online course) and use of that particular instrument prior to use. Never disable safety interlocks!

Fire Safety

Furnaces and the glass sealing station are the main sources of fire and burn hazards. An important secondary source is the glassblowing torch. In addition to the requirements, at a minimum:

  • get training first,
  • always wear appropriate clothing,
  • and never put anything flammable (kimwipes, acetone, etc) nearby.


Additional information and MSU policies can be found at

These policies were adapted in part from the PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility at the Johns Hopkins University: