The operation of laboratory equipment overnight or otherwise unattended is strongly discouraged. The risk, along with the magnitude, of fire, flood, or hazardous material release associated with such operations is greatly increased, compared to similar operations under regular observation. In the event of an emergency, such operations pose challenges for Public Safety, Facilities, and other responding personnel who may have difficulty reaching responsible laboratory staff.
Experimental procedures involving unattended equipment operation often occur in warm/cold rooms or laboratory support areas that are not regularly occupied and may involve hazardous substances like methanol-containing transfer buffer. Special attention must be paid to unattended operations in areas not normally visited by laboratory personnel; periodic visits to these spaces must be made during unattended operations to ensure that unsafe conditions have not been created. Unattended operations involving highly hazardous materials should be brought to the attention of the Environmental Health & Safety prior to commencing work.
When unattended operation of equipment is necessary, the researcher shall:
- Post a sign on the exterior laboratory door describing any unattended process that might cause a hazardous condition if there is an experimental equipment or building services failure. The sign must include contact numbers for responsible parties, should the equipment or building services fail and cause a hazardous condition while unattended. Please complete and print the Unattended Operation of Equipment Sign on all doors where unattended work and/or equipment is located.
- Register unattended operations with EH&S. Please contact your Research Safety Specialist for further information.
- Ensure that all hose connections are secure, that electrical and other connections pose minimal risk of accident, and that proper drainage for operations requiring running water is provided.