Safety Guidelines


The BM3 Instrumentation Facility is now closed

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Engineering recognizes the importance of safety and health and is committed to providing an environment in which recognized hazards are controlled or eliminated. The philosophies and objectives behind this commitment are as follows:
  • The personal safety and health of students, faculty, staff, academic appointees and visitors is of utmost importance.
  • Classroom, laboratory, and research work will be conducted in a manner that protects people, environment and equipment.
  • Everyone will be expected to conduct their daily tasks in a manner that is consistent with the philosophy and objectives of this policy as well as any environmental, safety and health rules or procedures that the College practices.

Laboratory Safety Guidelines

  • The College of Engineering offers these suggestions for improving laboratory safety. We believe that having an understanding of inherent hazards and learning how to be safe should be an integral and important parts of the education process.
  • The College of Engineering in order to ensure safe practices in our laboratory have adopted the following guidelines. Non-compliance will result in suspension from the laboratory.
  • The BM3 Laboratory Safety Processes and Procedures are available online (these pages).

Personal safety

  • Know the location of the nearest telephone. Emergency Numbers Include:
    • Emergency 911
    • UNL Police 2-2222
  • Environmental Health and Safety (402) 472-4925

Laboratory Safety

All Users must read and understand the information in this document with regard to laboratory safety and emergency procedures prior to their first laboratory session. Your personal laboratory safety depends mostly on YOU. We have attempted to address various situations that may pose a hazard in the lab but the information and instructions provided cannot be considered all-inclusive. Users must observe written and verbal safety instructions. Additional instructions may be necessary for Users at the beginning of laboratory sessions, due to:
  • Experience of user (i.e., inexperienced), testing of non-standard samples, unverified testing methodologies, Users’ scheduling conflicts, instrument maintenance or in any other special circumstances
  • Using good judgment, the chances of lab accidents are very small. Nevertheless, research facilities and workplaces can pose potential hazards that can cause serious injury and/or damage to the equipment
  • Safety instructions and/or information should be provided by a Staff member, during the training session or when a new hazard is introduced into the workplace
  • Know the potential hazards/dangers of your samples (if you are uncertain check with the BM3 Staff)

Emergency Response

  1. It is your responsibility to read safety and fire alarm posters and follow the instructions during an emergency.
  2. Know the location of the fire extinguisher, eyewash, and know how to use them.
  3. Notify the BM3 Staff immediately after any injury, fire, explosion, spill or any other accident.
  4. Know the building evacuation procedures.

Common Sense

Good common sense is necessary for safety in a laboratory. It is expected that each User will work in a responsible manner and exercise good judgment and common sense. If at any time you are not sure how to handle a particular situation, ask the BM3 Staff for advice. DO NOT attempt to operate any instrument with which you are not completely familiar! It is always better to ask questions than to risk harm to yourself or damage to the equipment.

Personal and General laboratory safety

  1. Never eat, drink, or smoke while working in the laboratory.
  2. Wash hands before leaving the lab and before eating.
  3. Never apply contact lens, cosmetics or hairspray while working in the laboratory.
  4. Do not store food or beverages in BM3 Laboratory or the laboratory refrigerator.
  5. Horseplay or other acts of carelessness are prohibited.
  6. Read labels carefully.
  7. Areas containing lasers, biohazards, radioisotopes, and carcinogens should be labeled.
  8. Never pipette anything by mouth.
  9. Never use open flames in laboratory unless without approval from BM3 Staff.
  10. Disposal - Users are responsible for the proper disposal of used samples and materials according to the Environmental Health and Safety guidelines.
  11. Pregnant women should take special care with exposure to certain chemicals, which can be harmful to fetal development. For additional information consult:
    • Material Safety Data Sheets, Environmental Health and Safety at (402) 472-4925, the BM3 Staff or your physician.
    Report all accidents immediately (no matter how minor) to the BM3 Staff (if available), 911 or UNL Police at 2-2222.
  12. Protective Clothing: When handling dangerous substances, wear gloves, laboratory coats, and safety shield or glasses. Shorts and sandals should not be worn in the lab at any time.
  13. Wear safety glasses or face shields when working with hazardous materials and/or equipment.
  14. If you have long hair, tie it back, loose clothing is not advised.
  15. Wear gloves when using any hazardous or toxic agent. Gloves should be removed when leaving the lab, i.e., before entering another lab, common area or touching any items.
  16. Powder free gloves should be worn when operating the SEM to protect the instrument from contamination.
  17. Keep the work area clear of all materials except those necessary for your experiments and all personal belongings should be kept away from equipment.
  18. Keep your lab space clean and organized and clean up your work area before leaving.
  19. Do not use any equipment unless you are trained and approved as a Certified User by the BM3 Staff.
  20. All experiments conducted by Non-Certified Users must have prior approval.
  21. Do not attempt to modify, repair or make adjustments (outside of normal operations) to any equipment in the BM3 Laboratory.
  22. Equipment Failure - If a piece of equipment fails while being used, report it immediately to the BM3 Staff. Never attempt to correct the problem. You may cause serious harm to yourself and/or others.
  23. Maintain unobstructed access to all exits, fire extinguishers, electrical panels, and emergency eyewash station.
  24. Do not use corridors for storage or work areas.
  25. Overhead storage should be limited to lightweight items.
  26. Maintain 36" of unobstructed space around all fire sprinkler heads.
  27. If leaving the lab unattended, make sure the lights are off and the door is locked after exiting.

Electrical safety

  1. Maintain an unobstructed access to all electrical panels.
  2. Consult BM3 Staff before using extension cords.
  3. If water or fluid is spilled in or around electrical equipment consult BM3 Staff.
  4. Any devices, e.g., laptop, iPad, requiring non-standard voltage consult BM3 Staff.
  5. Never modify, attach or otherwise change any high voltage equipment.
  6. When you are adjusting any high voltage equipment or a laser that is powered with a high voltage supply, USE ONLY ONE HAND. Your other hand should be placed in a pocket or behind your back. This eliminates the possibility of an accident where high voltage current is able to flow up one arm, through your chest, and down the other arm.

Mechanical safety

  1. When using compressed gases, use only approved nozzles and never direct the air towards any person.
  2. Exercise care when utilizing instruments with moveable parts.

Chemical safety

  1. Know the proper use of chemicals and proper disposal of waste. Refer any related questions to the BM3 Staff.
  2. Treat every chemical as if it were a hazardous chemical.
  3. Make sure all chemicals are clearly and currently labeled with the substance name, concentration, date, and name of the responsible individual.
  4. Never return decanted chemicals back to original bottles. Dispose of all used chemicals according to EHS guidelines.
  5. Do not attempt to store chemicals in the BM3 Laboratory.
  6. Complete all sample prep work prior to performing research in the BM3 Laboratory.
  7. The use of flammables, pyrophorics, or aerosols in the BM3 Laboratory are prohibited.
  8. Always use gloves to prevent solvent coming in contact with your skin.
  9. Never purposely inhale a solvent! Read the label on the solvent bottle to identify its contents.
  10. Make sure to check your glassware for cracks and chips each time you use it.
  11. Dispose of all waste and broken glassware in proper containers.
  12. Clean up spills immediately according to EHS guidelines.
  13. Do not store food or beverages in BM3 Laboratory.

Lasers safety

  1. Never look into any laser beam (regardless of the laser classification).
  2. While operating any laser you must wear safety goggles.
  3. The most common laser injuries are to the eyes. To avoid these injuries always wear safety goggles and never lower your head to the level of the laser beam. The laser beam should always be at or below chest level. An injury can be caused from scattered laser light reflecting off mountings, mirrors or shiny surfaces, e.g., optical tables.
  4. Always use "beam stops" to intercept laser beams. Never allow them to propagate into the BM3 Laboratory. Never walk through a laser beam. Some laser beams can burn a hole into an object within a fraction of a second.
  5. If you suspect that you have suffered an injury, notify the BM3 Staff immediately.