Fire hazards, possible explosions, poorly ventilated spaces, and more all pose hazards to extraction labs.
When I was 13, I once wound up looking at a shadow of a maple tree extending across the blacktop. My bicycle was sprawled out under my feet, and my right, middle finger was twisted with the nail hanging off it by a thread of bloody flesh.
Everyone at that age thinks it’s not cool to wear a helmet, but I wish would have on that day. Proper safety equipment might not have prevented me from breaking my finger, but it might have prevented me from having a serious concussion.
Just as we should always protect our heads when riding bicycles, we should also ensure proper safety protocols when working in an extraction lab.
According to the Denver Fire Department, public access to your lab should be restricted; there should be no unauthorized personnel in your lab at any time. But keeping out wanderers is the easy part. You might not always see, hear, or smell the other threats that can occur.
For example, when dealing with vapors, just because you can’t immediately identify their over-accumulation doesn’t mean you’re not in danger. That’s why it’s important to ensure your lab is fitted with properly functioning ventilation equipment. Assuming you have your ventilation system secure, you still need a backup. That is, a vapor monitoring system that lets you know if the ventilation system is doing its job. At 5,000 PPM, CO2 becomes dangerous. To identify this hazard, you should have a device installed that alerts you to the potential asphyxiation hazard.
Scarier than choking on carbon dioxide is being burned. A hazardous exhaust system also helps prevent flammable liquids from posing a serious issue. From burns to explosions, there are a number of ways to ensure proper safety within an extraction lab. For smaller quantities, a fume hood will suffice, However, for quantities of flammable liquids over five gallons, a system with a capture and containment velocity high enough to meet your State’s standards must be installed.
Furthermore, to prevent sparks or static discharge from creating an explosion, all metal objects must be grounded. This includes any ductwork, pipe fittings, and hard sinks. Vacuum ovens also pose an explosion risk. That’s why they should be classified as ‘explosion proof’.
Whether you want to protect your head from a concussion or protect your employees from an explosion, it’s important to always follow safety protocols. These are generally outlined by your state, city, and municipality. I wish I had followed them when I was 13.