Safety Update

improvements to CFN safety

Wai-Lin Ng

Wai-Lin Ng

Because of the dynamic working environment at the CFN, we conduct experiments alongside continually changing users. Sharing lab space and using common equipment mean that we must continue to monitor and maintain our facilities and instrumentation so that they are ready for use by others. We encourage all users to partake in this responsibility of upholding good lab practices and keeping track of their activities. By working together, we can create a productive and safe environment for carrying out our research. Listed below are a few reminders of procedures that are in place for hazardous operations at the CFN.

Avoiding Unattended Experiments

A couple of weeks ago during a laboratory inspection, we found a hot plate that was accidentally left on, melting a plastic container that was inadvertently placed on its surface. Laboratory hot plates pose a potential fire hazard through overheating or igniting materials. Fortunately, a fire did not occur, and we can reflect on this incident as a learning opportunity. Here are some tips for safely running experiments:

  • When possible, avoid running chemical operations or leaving experimental apparatus unattended. If you must run an experiment for periods extending beyond normal work hours, review the activity, potential safety hazards, and safety procedures with your CFN point of contact, and get his/her approval.
  • Always post the experimental area or operation with your contact number, a description of the activity, hazards, and emergency shutdown steps (download the form here).
  • Avoid the unattended use of hot plates and other heating devices.
  • Unplug hot plates and other heating devices when not in use.
  • Label all containers, beakers, and sample holders to identify the chemicals or types of materials stored.

Retraining for Users of Class 3B or 4 Lasers

Powerful lasers are used at the CFN in various applications, including advanced optical spectroscopy, microscopy, laser deposition, and lithography. Procedures and guidelines for working with lasers conform to strict industry standards for laser safety. All staff, users, temporary visitors, and guests must meet the  qualifications for working in an area with Class 3B or 4 lasers. These qualifications include a medical eye exam and instrument training. All new users  must be briefed by Brookhaven Lab’s laser safety officer on the hazards of lasers and lessons learned.

Qualified operators of laser systems are required to refresh their training periodically. Individuals who have received training on operating procedures for specific laser systems need to renew their training every two years. If a procedure has changed within that time period, you will need to be trained on the revised procedure prior to your training renewal date. If you are returning to the CFN to work on a laser system, check with your point of contact to ensure you are up to date with your training.

Prioritizing Safety 

The safety protocols we have put in place are to help you pursue your cutting-edge science using the unique and state-of-the-art tools that the CFN offers. By being cognizant of our surroundings, communicating with one another, and working as a team, we can conduct our research in a safe and productive manner.

I encourage you to ask questions or voice any concerns, and always appreciate your feedback.

— Wai-Lin Ng
ES&H Coordinator

2018-12893  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom