Hazards

 

Door safety data sheets

Door safety data sheets are prepared by COSECs and enable the identification of the most critical dangers to which one might be exposed in a given location, as well as the instructions to follow (what must and must not be done) and people to contact in case of emergency. These data sheets are particularly useful upon arrival of firefighters and rescuers, and are a valuable source of information for anyone accessing the premises (staff, visitors, technical and maintenance personnel).

Biological hazards

Activities with biological material are separated in four classes, according to the hazard of the manipulated organism, the scale of the activity, the steps, etc. At EPFL there are three types of laboratories (no class 4 activities): biosafety level 1 laboratory; biosafety level 2 laboratory; biosafety level 3 laboratory.

Chemical hazards

The use of chemical substances is ruled by the Law on chemical products (LChim, ref. 813.1) and the Ordinance on chemical products (OChim, ref. 813.11). The ordinance on the decrease of risks relative to chemical products (ORRChim, ref. 814.81) lists some types of substances with a prohibited or limited use. Several technical directives are edited by the Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety (FCOS) and by SUVA.

 

Compressed gases

Compressed gas cylinders combine a physical property, high pressure, with chemical properties that depend on the nature of the gas.

Laser hazards

There are more than 200 lasers at EPFL. Most of them can cause eye injuries to anyone who looks directly into the beam or its reflections from a specular (mirror-like) surface. In addition, the diffuse reflections from a high-power beam can cause eye damage. High-power lasers also cause skin damage and ignite flammable materials.

Cryogenic hazards

Cryogenic liquids (or cryogens) are largely used in our School as cooling agents in a wide range of scientific experiments. Different cryogens are available, with the most used ones being liquid nitrogen and helium. Similar to compressed gases, cryogens combine physical and chemical hazards.

 

Static magnetic field hazard

Magnets generating intense magnetic fields are becoming the standard in research. They now push back the limits of material science, refine the resolution of MRIs and considerably increase the frequency range of NMR spectrometers.

Nanomaterials

Exposure to ENMs may occur via inhalation, dermal contact or ingestion. The most critical route of exposure is inhalation. Without complete scientific evidence, the potential threat of newly developed materials on human health and the environment is assumed to be such that precautionary measures must be taken until the material is known to be harmless. In order to minimize potential exposure to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), a combination of strategic, technical, organizational and personal protective measures must be implemented.

Radioactivity

According to the Radiological Protection Ordinance (RPO), all individuals with professional exposure to ionizing radiation must undergo a medical examination before beginning work with radioactive sources or X-ray generators. To be allowed in the lab, they must undertake a basic radioprotection safety course and agree to follow the rules established by the Ordinance, specifically those related to personal protection, waste management and individual dosimetry.