Over-Pressurization of Gel Column Causes Chemical Splash to Eyes and Skin

A laboratory worker was pouring chloroform though a gel column inside a fume hood. Due to incorrect equipment configuration, pressure built up in the column and caused the glassware at the top of the column to break, spraying chloroform out of the hood, onto the worker’s face, eyes and clothing.

The laboratory worker was wearing safety glasses, rather than chemical splash goggles. The chloroform seeped through the opening at the top of the glasses and burned both eyes. The lens of the safety glasses were partially dissolved by the chloroform. The worker did use a safety shower immediately, but was too embarrassed to remove his sweater in the presence of other laboratory workers. As a result, he suffered from second degree burns on both arms where the chloroform soaked through the sweater.

The set-up of the apparatus was changed to allow the hood of the sash to be lowered when the chloroform is being poured, providing an additional shield between the worker and the chemical and lowering the potential spray below eye level.

  • Keep hazardous materials that have the potential for splash below eye level.

  • Use care when working with pressure or vacuum to avoid pressurizing containers.

  • Wear a closed lab coat, chemical splash goggles and, if necessary, a face shield when there is a possibility of a significant chemical splash.

  • Remove contaminated clothing while rinsing.

  • Keep the hood sash lowered and/or use shielding when working with pressurized containers