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Oklahoma State University

Unattended Experiments

If a laboratory employee starts a potentially dangerous process and must leave it unattended for a long period, then the following safety procedures should be used:

  • Any necessary arrangements must be finalized prior to experimentation. Someone should check the experiment periodically. If the procedure involves continuous utilities such as water, power, etc., the employee must confirm that no outages are scheduled during the time of the experiment.
  • No open flames should be left unattended. Over-temperature cutoff devices should be used on heated oil baths that run unattended.
  • Post a notice on or near the experiment. The notice should clearly communicate the emergency shutoff procedures, nature of the hazards, and contact information.
  • Place an appropriate warning sign on the door that lists the nature of the experiment in progress, and includes the name and phone number of the person responsible for the experiment.
  • Provide items appropriate for the containment of toxic substances in the event of failure of a utility service (such as cooling water) to an unattended operation.
  • Whenever possible, use automatic shutoff devices for long-term or unattended operations. Please be mindful of potential situations such as the loss of cooling water and overheating.