Lab-HIRA: Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis for Chemical Research Laboratories

Global Congress on Process Safety
April 3, 2012 - 12:00am

The combination of hazard identification and risk analysis is an organized effort to pinpoint weaknesses in the design and operation of processes that could lead to accidental or unintentional chemical releases, fires or explosions. These studies assist organizations with the goal of improving safety and managing the risk of operations. However, reported data on incidents in academic chemistry laboratories indicates that the accident rate is 10 to 50 times higher than that in industrial laboratories. These data suggest that risk reduction efforts in academic laboratories are managed differently and arguably with less successful outcomes. The layers of personal protection and equipment safeguards, typically found in academic research laboratories, are often much less sophisticated than those used in industrial facilities. Moreover, hazard or risk analyses, ubiquitous in chemical manufacturing, are rarely performed for laboratory operations. When an accident occurs in an academic laboratory, involving loss of containment, chemical exposure, explosion or fire, people are often seriously and sometimes fatally injured. The subsequent investigation findings often point to the absence of a risk analysis as a root cause factor.

This paper describes a straightforward technique designed to identify and assess the hazards of conducting a chemical synthesis in the R&D environment. The approach highlights potentially hazardous situations that could arise from the use and handling of chemicals employed during the synthesis. Thirty three parameters, indicative of one or more hazard properties of molecules or operational conditions pertaining to the synthesis, are used to characterize the hazard potential of the synthesis. The result is three one-word hazard ratings for each of the reagents being used for the synthesis step, for the overall synthesis step, and for the reaction conditions. Lab-HIRA also provides a checklist of safeguards, relevant to the chemicals and conditions being used, that should be in place and functional, before work commences. If a Severe rating has been assigned by Lab-HIRA a recommendation is presented regarding the need to perform a risk analysis before starting work. Some well-established risk procedures have been adapted, and described here, to the task of hazard identification and risk assessment in the chemical R&D laboratory.

Professional Development Hours
0.5 PDHs
You will be able to download and print a certificate for these PDH credits once the content has been viewed. If you have already viewed this content, please click here to login.

Would you like to access this content?

No problem. You just have to complete the following steps.

You have completed 0 of 2 steps.

  1. Log in

    You must be logged in to view this content. Log in now.

  2. Purchase Technical Presentation

    You must purchase this technical presentation using one of the options below.
    If you already purchased this content recently, please click here to refresh the system's record of ownerships.


Credits 0.5 Use credits
List Price $25.00 Buy now
AIChE Members $15.00 Buy now
AIChE Undergraduate Student Members Free Free access
AIChE Graduate Student Members $15.00 Buy now
Related Topics: