Simply stated, everyone must wear safety glasses at all times while in a laboratory where hazardous materials are used or stored. Goggles must be worn when working with corrosive materials (acids/bases). There are no exceptions, and this is not open to discussion.
Some have suggested that the use of any PPE requires a risk assessment based upon the probability of exposure, and that factors like the experience of a trained researcher, or the amounts of material being manipulated, can reduce one's exposure risk.
However, the bigger risk, as also shown in the video that started this discussion, is the ability of other individuals to affect your potential for exposure by their actions, or because of events that others had set in motion long before you entered a laboratory.
A life time in the chemical laboratory, and 25+ years as an emergency responder, has taught me that anything can and will happen in a laboratory setting =96 regardless of whether or not hazardous materials are being used, manipulated, or just sitting quietly on a shelf.
Everyone reading this should believe that:
1. containers of materials that quietly decompose will burst from excessive internal pressure without warning,
2. drums will leak from corrosion, or from a bad weld made during production, or bloat into the shape of a football from incompatible contaminants,
3. distillation and reflux apparatus will shatter violently for no apparent reason, and send glass fragments across a lab and into the furniture, the ceiling and the room occupants, and,
4. Common mixtures and routine operations will undergo uncontrolled exothermic reactions without warning and forcefully eject hazardous materials across a room.
Always remember that you can replace equipment, and you can rebuild stockrooms and laboratories, but you cannot fix catastrophic eye injuries or blindness. There are no exceptions, and this is not open to discussion.
Edward M. Movitz Health & Safety Officer / FSO
Department of Health and Safety
The University of Mississippi
Post Office Box 1848 University, MS 38677-1848
(662)915-5433 Phone (662)915-5480 Fax
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