Avoid working alone in a building or laboratory. Prior written approval from the PI or Lab Supervisor is required before working alone in a laboratory. Working alone in a laboratory is prohibited when working with a compound of high or unknown toxicity.

Overnight or late-night experimentation can be quite dangerous since oftentimes the lab personnel working late hours are working alone. Experiments that are left to run overnight have the potential for more dangerous incidents because no one is around. Plan experiments accordingly. If experiments will take a longer time to perform, do not start them late in the evening. It is better to start the next day than to work overnight or late night and alone. It is recommended to NEVER work alone. It is also best to NOT work when exhausted or tired. When a lab personnel is exhausted or tired and continues to work, it is more likely for an incident to occur.

Below is a guide to help those who wish to work overnight or those who work late nights stay safe.

  • Make multiple people aware that you are working overnight or late.
    • PIs are required to be aware of who is working overnight or late nights – get written approval from the PI before working alone.
    • Let a lab member know that you will be working overnight or a late night.
  • Set check-in times with a lab member or PI.
  • Perform a risk assessment of your experiment (see Appendix H Risk Assessment)
    • Work through preparing for emergencies if you are the sole person in the lab. This can look very different than usual emergency preparation.
    • Have the list of emergency numbers for campus on hand.
  • Discuss the experiment with your PI to ensure the correct procedures are being performed.
  • If an experiment is being performed overnight or is left overnight, post a notice on the door.
    • This notice should include hazardous procedures, chemicals being used in the reaction, and any other important information about the reaction (i.e., reflux, sublimation, potentially explosive, etc.)
    • This notice should also include name and phone number of the person who set up and is running the experiment.
    • This notice should also include all emergency procedures if something were to occur
      • When performing the risk assessment of the experiment, ensure that preparing for emergencies takes into the account that the person discovering the accident is potentially NOT a lab member. Think about all potential possibilities during an incident or emergency and think of all of the steps to respond to possible emergencies or incidents.
    • If running any highly exothermic reactions or potentially explosive reactions, make sure that proper engineering controls are in place to minimize the risk of an explosion.
      • Consider discussing these overnight reactions with RMS to ensure that all possible safety measures have been taken.