Lab Tales – Don’t Put Your Finger in There!

The test laboratory is a special kind of place.  The work conducted in the laboratory is experimental which usually indicates that we are trying things that have not been tried before to see what happens or doesn’t happen.  Fortunately, at least in the cleaning laboratory, it is not likely that we will initiate an uncontrolled nuclear reaction or anything remotely approaching an event of that magnitude, but it is still a good idea to be ready for the unexpected.  Since the lab is an experimental environment, it is not always possible to provide “signs and placards” to warn of every possible danger.  Common sense safety applies not only in the laboratory but in the manufacturing environment as well.  Safety is usually enhanced by a good dose of common sense as suggested by the following —

  • Some acids and bases look pretty much the same as water
  • STRONG acid looks pretty much the same as weak acid
  • Remember to add acid to water, not the other way around.
  • Hot water looks pretty much the same as cold water
  • Don’t put blind trust in any label on a sticky note unless you put it there yourself – and sometimes not even then.
  • There are a lot of things that look like steam that aren’t steam.  Acid fumes and smoke are two of them!
  • The splash will always be bigger than you think it will be.
  • Operating a spray washer before it reaches temperature can create a scene not unlike one you may have seen on I Love Lucy.
  • Chlorine bleach will destroy stainless steel in a matter of minutes – even sooner if you add ultrasonics.
  • A valve that’s “open” looks pretty much like a valve that’s “closed” – This is especially true of solenoid valves.
  • The last person to drain the cleaning tank always leaves the drain valve open.
  • The person filling the tank never checks to make sure the drain valve is closed.
  • Switches have an ON position and an OFF position that aren’t always well labeled.
  • The switch is always left in the “on” position when the power is disconnected.
  • Pumps will run backwards if the three phase electrical supply is not wired correctly and that may be bad.
  • Loose or missing filter housings will always leak on to something that shouldn’t get wet.
  • Equipment that is intended to operate on 208 Volt 3 Phase power probably won’t operate on 240 Volt OR 480 Volt 3 Phase power (at least for very long).
  • No device will ever have the right plug to fit the available socket.
  • Computers don’t work well when wet.

I’m sure these little gems from my own personal experience are only the tip of the iceberg!  If you have any interesting and potentially helpful thoughts to add, please click on the comment button below and pass them on.

 –  FJF  –

One comment on “Lab Tales – Don’t Put Your Finger in There!

  • Water coming out of a 0° degree nozzle at 500psi looks similar to water at 30psi and shouldn’t be tested with your finger!

    This started out as a comment “that’s not enough pressure to do anything” before I knew it, they said “see” as they put their finger in the stream of water. Their next comment was “Oh S#*@ that hurts”.

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