Safety Issue: Chemical Handling

Thomas T. Lee leet at
Mon Aug 23 13:24:33 PDT 2004

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your email.  I've had a couple scares with fumes in the litho
room myself recently.  I was emptying the red container underneath lithosolv
and got a faceful of fumes - I think someone didn't put their trash in a
plastic bag.

One suggestion on improving safety - require all labmembers to take the safety
test annually.  It's doesn't have to be an onerous test - just enough to 
get people
to re-read the safety procedures and remind themselves of things they may have
forgotten.  To make sure people comply, Coral logins could be disabled (or 
privileges automatically one year after the user last took the test, and 
reset once
the test is completed.  This also ensures that people who don't use the lab for
a long time don't go back in without a safety refresher.


At 01:02 PM 8/23/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>There has been a rash of incidents in involving handling of chemicals
>and chemical waste in the lab.  Unlabeled beakers containing chemicals
>have been found ­ on one occasion, ON TOP of an exhausted hood station,
>where it donated resist fumes to the litho area.  In one appalling
>instance, someone placed a yellow hazardous waste bag containing resist
>waste, untied, and without a label, into the regular trash can.  The
>custodian, doing his regular cleanup, complained about the smell to
>Mario, who took care of it... however irresponsible it is to expose
>fellow labmates to unknown chemicals, it is utterly unconscionable to
>expose the custodial staff.
>Then, just this weekend, a concerned labmember found and reported an
>unlabeled bag of solid waste near wbsolvent and two more unlabeled
>beakers of resist were found in a litho bench.
>I’m sure that no one intentionally did these things.  And equally sure
>that it would be difficult to find the person(s) responsible.  However,
>in following up on each of these incidents, I seem to always get at
>least one response from someone who noticed something wrong at the time,
>but was too busy or shy to do or say anything...  Please...  We are ALL
>Even if you are not the person who did these things, this is your lab
>too (and your air that you are breathing.)  If you see someone engaging
>in an unsafe situation,  you should be able to tell the person about
>your concerns.  At the very least, you should let a staff member know or
>email safety at with your concerns.  If you see chemical
>waste that has been improperly handled or dispose of, please tell
>someone (safety at or your friendly neighborhood
>staffer).  If you aren’t sure and it’s off hours,  ask your fellow
>labmembers and send an email (safety at
>Consider this an utlimatum:  Paul Rissman is making safety a top
>priority.  He’s the new sheriff in town, and I’m a deputy.  So, for each
>safety incident encountered in the lab that we can’t trace, we’ll impose
>a penalty on EVERYONE who has enabled equipment in the vicinity.  The
>penalties thus far are relatively light and consist of taking the safety
>test (for those old-timers who haven’t done so) or providing an
>acceptable multiple-choice question that can be used for the test.  NO,
>there’s no guarantee that the person who did this is also getting
>penalized.  YES, there will be a number of people who are getting
>penalized who are in no way responsible.  YES, there may be some
>innocent people who get penalized multiple times.  However, the penalty
>is small ­ please view this as an act of community service to improve
>safety and safety awareness.  (And if anyone can think of a better
>method for eliminating these chemical safety handling problems, we’ll
>gladly discuss this with you.)
>I trust everyone is as concerned as we are about making sure the lab is
>a safe place to work.
>And did I tell you that we have a safety group, who can be reached at
>safety at  If you have any questions, comments, or
>concerns about this, please email safety at
>Thanks for your attention --
>Mary X. Tang, Ph.D.
>Stanford Nanofabrication Facility
>CIS Room 136, Mail Code 4070
>Stanford, CA  94305
>mtang at

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