Research lab renovated to improve safety

Research labs in Sid Richardson Building were renovated and given a more modern look in an effort to improve lab safety on campus before the fall semester began.

Renovation took place over the summer after labs went through a massive clean-out process, chemistry professor Tracy Hanna said.

Labs received brand new eyewash and shower stations as a part of the renovation, Hanna said.

In addition, the new lab design separates student desks from the research stations, which helps prevent cross-contamination of chemicals, Hanna said.

“We’re hoping that things are going to be a lot safer,” Hanna said.

Safety coordinator Scott Dunkle said outdated fume hoods and other outdated equipment were all replaced during the renovation.

Dunkle said educating people is also an important key in lab safety.

“You can have all the safety measures in the world, but if people don’t know what they’re doing, then they’re not going to be any good,” Dunkle said.

At the beginning of every semester, professors and the safety coordinator lead a training course for all new students, including graduate students, who will be working in the labs that semester in order to make sure students know what they are doing, Dunkle said.

Through training, students learn about different chemical and waste management as well as how to use equipment, graduate student Pradeep Budhathoki said.

“The labs are pretty safe because now we have everything,” Budhathoki said.

According to USA Today, accidents occur about twice as frequently in college labs than in the chemical industry.

Students are not allowed to work in the labs alone, and undergraduate students must be monitored by a professor when working in the lab. Graduate students, however, can monitor other graduate students, Hanna said.

“It’s mainly to have someone around to realize if anything happened, or so that they could get help,” Hanna said.