Providing Global Process Safety Solutions

Research Laboratory Hazard Evaluation

Chemical laboratory in a big industryDuring his career in safety and loss prevention for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, Dr. Leggett has performed many safety audits and risk inspections of chemical research laboratories in The Americas, Europe and Asia. These reviews and audits have covered all aspects of research laboratory operations and chemical manipulations. The laboratories were based in fine chemical manufacturers, educational institutions, pharmaceutical companies and research labs serving the electronics industry.

A risk analysis of chemical R&D laboratory operations is handled differently from that for an industrial process. Our approach highlights potentially hazardous situations that could arise from the use and handling of chemicals employed during a chemical synthesis. Thirty five parameters, drawn from reactivity, flammability, toxicity, and exposure data, and from federal databases such as NIOSH, EPA, OSHA, NOAA, are used for the risk analysis of the molecule. The operational conditions of the synthesis for the target molecule are also used to characterize the hazard potential of the whole synthesis.

The result is a hazard rating for each of the reagents being used for the synthesis step, a rating for the overall synthesis step, and one for the reaction conditions. Based on these hazard ratings, recommendations are offered regarding the need, or not, for a formal process hazard analysis before starting work. These well-established risk assessment procedures have been adapted to fit the needs of the chemical R&D laboratory situation.

This preliminary assessment is in the form of an PC application that is run by the researcher. Only the name of the chemical, or its CAS number, are needed to obtain a hazard assessment. The software package, known as LabHIRA, is fully described and available through www.Lab-HIRA.com.

  • Dr. Leggett performed multiple risk assessments at several of the University of California’s chemistry departments’ research laboratories, as part of a team. HSE consultations, extensive experience in the identification of synthesis hazards, and chemical process risk analysis expertise was provided to assist faculty researchers in developing SOPs for handling highly hazardous materials in their labs. Following these audits over 1,100 chemical safety documents were developed for use by the researchers in their daily activities.
  • A pharmaceutical R&D laboratory required a hazard review regarding their handling and disposal of potentially explosive coupling agents.
  • A hazard review was conducted for an R&D laboratory focused on their handling and storage of flammable and pyrophoric reagents.