Lab Safety Alert – check older plastic containers for cracks!
July 27th, 2017
Check older plastic containers for cracks!

Duke OESO has learned from peer institutions about container failures such as those pictured here. Sigma-Aldrich (now Millipore Sigma) containers like those shown below have cracked and failed. These containers are common at Duke so we encourage labs to inspect their Sigma containers for cracks and deteriorating plastic.

Labs should also look for bending in the containers as seen in the pictures below.

Several universities have seen this problem, primarily in containers that are 15 years old or older, but also in newer containers. Container failure could lead to a chemical spill, making the chemical unusable and possibly requiring OESO’s spill team to respond. Most importantly, laboratory personnel could be exposed to these materials, many of which are hazardous.

Employees should inspect their lab’s containers for bending and cracks. While doing so, they should wear nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and fastened lab coats so they are protected if they find damaged containers.

If damaged containers are found, they should be placed into secondary containment immediately and, as soon as possible, transferred to a clean and empty undamaged container with a secure lid. Be sure to choose a container material that is compatible with the chemical. The name of the chemical and all hazard warnings from the original container must be transferred to the label of the new container. OESO’s Chemical Label Template may be used to create a label for the new container. If the chemical itself is no longer needed, it should be disposed of through the OESO chemical waste system. In this case, the contents must still be transferred to an undamaged container with a secure lid, but the Waste Accumulation Label (stating the contents, open date and fill date) will be used in lieu of the chemical label showing all hazard warnings.