Skip to content Skip to navigation

Safety for All

  1. Everyone is responsible for preventing accidents, so must: a.) understand safety hazards, and b.) observe safety precautions. But no system is perfect. So everyone also has a role in responding in the case of an accident and in the post-incident analysis.
  2. SNF’s responsibility is to a.) educate and inform labmembers of safety hazards and response procedures in the lab; b.) provide the tools and resources for safe lab use; and c.) continually improve safety by identifying, analyzing, and responding to safety concerns. General lab safety hazards are communicated through this SNF Labuser guide and Stanford’s EH&S safety programs.  Specific station-level safety hazards are communicated through training for individual tools. Safety resources provided by SNF include, but are not limited to:SDS information; operating procedures and training for each tool; personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in its use; documented procedures for actions to take in an emergency situation; knowledgeable personnel who are trained in safety and emergency procedures.
  3. Labmembers are responsible for behaving in a safe, conscientious, and professional manner in all lab activities. SNF provides information and tools; use this information to manage, not only your own safety, but the safety of your fellow labmembers and staffers.  Be aware that anyone endangering themself or others will lose access to the lab. 

    We all know that researchers need to try new things.  So your responsibility is to work with staff to ensure that any new procedure/chemical/equipment is introduced and executed in a safe manner, through the ProM. You are also responsible for keeping the lab community safe by reporting any safety concerns. To report any potentially unsafe conditions or practices, or to offer suggestions for improvement, you can send a confidential email.


  1. Eating or drinking.  These (and gum chewing) are NOT ALLOWED in labs. However, you should take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.  Note that the only lab space where drinking is allowed is at the water dispenser in the Service Area near where you exit the Cleanroom.  Do not bring food or drink into the Cleanroom.
  2. Getting around. In labs, take care to avoid collisions and injury to others. Avoid sudden or fast movements (no running). Prevent collisions by approaching blind corners slowly. Carefully approach and open all doors slowly.  Remember that you and those around you may be handling or carrying valuable experiments that could be dropped and damaged.
  3. Lab dress code.  In all labs, eye protection (see below) is required and shoes must fully enclose feet (no sandals, open toe, or sling-back shoes). Your clothes should be light and comfortable enough wear under a lab coat or cleanroom suit, as required. Legs must be covered in wet labs (i.e., no shorts or short dresses).  Each of the labs will have specific lab dress requirements.
  4. Basic Eye Protection.  Safety glasses or goggles should be worn at all times in all labs; the only exception is when using a microscope or equipment with eye pieces. Eye protection must conform to ANSI standard (marked "Z87".) For labmembers requiring corrective lenses, impact-resistant prescription safety glasses with side shields may be purchased from most prescription glasses suppliers. Contact lenses are allowed under regulation safety glasses (but not allowed with full-face respirators or SCBA’s – applicable to staff only.)  Side shields that can be used with regular prescription glasses are available in the Stockroom; please note that these may be used only with large framed, impact-resistant lenses and not recommended for long term use.
  5. Protection from Chemicals.  Operation of wet chemical benches and transportation of hazardous chemicals in the lab may require additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes chemical apron, chemical-resistant gloves, full face shields, and boots, as described in the operating procedures for each station.   
  6. Hearing Protection.  The background noise levels in labs are well within OSHA limits for 8 hours of continuous exposure.  However, many staff and labmembers find it more comfortable to work using noise cancelling headphones or ear buds.  A limited number of headphones are available for general use.  Disposable foam ear plugs are also provided for lab use.  While hearing protection is highly encouraged, please make sure you are still able to hear alarms and other people in the lab (do not use headphones for entertainment.)
  7. Sharps.  Broken glassware, broken wafers, razor blades/scalpels/XActo knives, syringe needles, etc. are sharp materials that can cause injuries, especially if they are contaminated.  Do not dispose of sharps in the regular trash as this puts  people, especially custodial staff at risk.  Instead, dispose in a blue & white cardboard Sharps box located in the Service Area and in room 159 (the Wafersaw room), which can be taped up and disposed of in its entirety.
  8. Minimize clutter and clean up after yourself. Remove or store everything you brought into the lab. Label all personal belongings. Always be aware of your work area and be sensitive to what others are doing around you.


  1. Buddy Rules: No one may work in the lab without a buddy at any time. The lab is open all hours, but there are times, such as a late night or on a holiday, when there may be no other people in the lab. If you expect to work when the lab may be empty, make sure to coordinate your work schedule in advance with a buddy.  Working-alone rules are described below and detailed on Stanford's EH&S site.
  2. Higher-risk tasks:  An “in-person buddy”, who is physically present and within hearing distance, is required when performing higher-risk tasks.  At SNF, pouring corrosive baths is a higher-risk task requiring an in-person buddy.  Other operations may also require an in-person buddy, as described in operating procedures and training.
  3. Lower-risk tasks.  Except where specifically indicated, the buddy rule for lower-risk fab processing can adapted.  A “semi in-person buddy” is another labmember who may not necessarily be in the same lab space, but is physically present on-site. A “live remote buddy” is someone who is continuously observing your activities remotely.  An “asynchronous remote buddy” is someone who is not on-site.
  4. Buddy Responsibilities. Make sure your Buddy knows where you are working, how long you expect to be working, when to check in, and when you are leaving for the day.  And if you are a designated buddy, make sure you communicate with your buddy partner.  Do not leave your buddy partner without informing them.


While the physical and health risks in the labs are well within regulatory requirements, these regulations are designed around the general population.  Certain individuals with health or physical concerns should review hazards presented and consult with their physician before working in labs.  Here are examples of health conditions that may require additional consideration.

  1. Pacemakers: Equipment in the lab may serve as sources of high voltage, ionizing radiation, ultrasonic interference or electromagnetic interference, which may affect normal operation of a pacemaker. If you have such a device, you should consult your physician before working in the lab.
  2. Pregnancy: Labmembers who are expecting or contemplating pregnancy should be aware of potential reproductive health risks in the lab, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Concerned labmembers should discuss with their physicians and consult with their supervisors and SNF and University safety personnel as appropriate.
  3. Chemical and Latex Allergies:  Certain chemical compounds may trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. One common sensitivity is to latex, found in the cleanroom gloves. Vinyl and nitrile cleanroom gloves are provided and may be used in place of latex.  Other chemicals in the lab may also trigger allergies. Learn to recognize the signs of contact allergic reaction (skin sensitivity, hives, wheezing). Be watchful of your health and well-being.


We use hazardous equipment and chemicals everyday, from the cars we drive to the gasoline we fill them with. Using these safely requires understanding their hazards and using safe practices to minimize them. The simplest precautions can be lifesavers; consider car seat belts.  Here are the general types hazards in the SNF labs.

  1. Gas Hazards: Compressed gases pose both chemical and physical hazards. Some of the gases used at SNF are inert; others are toxic, corrosive, flammable, or explosive. The primary health risks posed by gases are the physical hazards (fire, explosion) and inhalation (toxics and corrosives.) Use of these gases is strictly determined by state and local regulations, and university policy. Engineering controls are used to minimize the possibility of release and exposure.  Our toxic gas monitoring system is used to detect trace signals of a possible release and protect lab and building occupants by invoking evacuation.  While these measures are protective, as a labmember, you must still be always aware of the types gases and the hazards posed in the equipment you use.
  2. Liquid Chemicals present exposure hazards because: a.) they have to be handled (transported, poured, and mixed) to be used; b.) each chemical poses different hazards and precautionary measures for use. The chemicals commonly used in the lab can cause severe burns, tissue, and organ damage, and can ignite and explode. The greatest health risks posed by liquid chemicals are physical (fire, explosion), direct contact with skin and eyes (tissue damage), and inhalation (pulmonary damage or long term chronic effects). Make every effort to understand the chemical processes you use and respect the chemicals you work with. Knowing the general rules for how to safely transport, pour, use, and dispose of these chemicals is the responsibility of every labmember' using wet labs.
  3. Electrical Hazards are present wherever electricity is used. Although equipment is interlocked to prevent operator exposure, you must be aware the electrical hazards for the tool you are using. Unless it is in your training, never open electrical enclosures or cabinets on equipment, even when the power is off. If you notice any electrical hazard (for example,  an electrical "tingle" when you touch a piece of equipment) stop using the tool and immediately notify a staffer. Never put hands, fingers or conductive tools inside equipment. With the exception of personal electronics devices (laptops, phones), any electrical equipment brought into the lab must have prior ProM approval, to ensure that you can use the equipment in a safe manner.
  4. Ultraviolet Radiation is a potential risk in plasma etch, plasma deposition, and sputter tools, where highly energized species are generated. High power UV lamps are used in the aligner and stepper tools in photolithography; as they are mercury-based, they pose also pose a chemical risk (if a UV lamp should break or explode, do not attempt to clean up; instead, isolate the immediate area and call staff.)
  5. Electromagnetic Radiation may be generated by equipment using RF (primarily plasma etch and plasma deposition tools.) If you have a pacemaker, be aware that RF sources are present in the lab. All equipment is shielded to prevent exposure; report any damage to shielding on the equipment or cables.


  1. Fire Alarms
    Strobes are located in the lab and throughout (both inside and outside) the Allen/Annex buildings. The strobe is a small, rectangular, white light, usually with a red frame.
    In alarm: the strobe flashes and a very loud, pulsing klaxon sounds and all alarms in the lab, Allen, and Annex buildings should go off. The toxic gases in the lab will shut off immediately and the Palo Alto Fire Department will be called.
    Action: Stop what you are doing. Immediately leave the lab and the Allen/Annex buildings through the nearest exits.  Go to the designated evacuation point.
  2. Toxic Gas Alarms
    Appearance/Location: Toxic gas beacons are located in the lab and throughout (both inside and outside) the Allen/Annex buildings. The beacon is a large, cylindrical, blue lamp.
    In alarm: the beacon flashes and a very loud klaxon sounds continuously.
    Action:  Stop what you are doing. Immediately leave the lab through the nearest exit.  If the Fire Alarms are also activated, leave the Allen/Annex buildings through the nearest exits and go to the designated evacuation point. 
  3. Acid Waste Neutralization (AWN) Alarm
    Appearance/Location: The Acid Waste Neutralization (AWN) system beacons are located in each section of the lab, over wet benches and in the Main Lab corridor.  The beacon is a yellow, rectangular light.
    Alarm conditions:  the strobe flashes the AWN is no longer able to sufficiently neutralize the acid and base waste. The alarm is not audible. Always check the alarm before beginning processing on an acid/base wet bench.
    Action: When active, do not use acid/base wet benches. In alarm, no solutions may be aspirated, drained, or poured down the drain of any acid/base wet bench. Solvent benches are not affected.


Allen/Annex Building Emergency Response Procedures and emergency contact information are posted throughout the lab and the building (look for the brightly colored signs near exit doors, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and building phones.) [link]

  1. Building Evacuation/General Building Fire Alarm:  In an emergency, the priority is to move everyone safely away from hazards. When an emergency requires the evacuation of the building, the fire alarm system will sound. The fire alarm is automatically activated by smoke and fire detectors located throughout the building. Toxic gas detectors in the labs will also activate the general fire alarm. The fire alarm can be activated manually as well, by pulling the handle at any one of the pull stations located throughout the building.  The Palo Alto Fire Department will respond to a general building fire alarm. 

    All labmembers should familiarize themselves with the location of lab and building exits, the Evacuation Assembly Point, fire alarm pull stations, and fire extinguishers. When the fire alarm is activated, leave immediately. Do not take time to finish your tasks, remove your bunnysuit or collect belongings. Leave the lab and building through the nearest exit and go to the Evacuation Assembly Point (EAP). Provide assistance to others as necessary. Provide information that may be of assistance to Emergency Response personnel. Do not reenter the building, even if the alarms have silenced. Only after the Fire or Police Departments declare the scene safe will you be allowed to re-enter the building.

    While safely away from the building, wait for instructions.  You may remove your bunnysuit.  Keep it, so that when the OK is given to return to the building, you may check your suit into the laundry and check out a fresh set.  Do not re-enter labs until staff have communicated that it is safe.  Let staffers know if you have any work underway or in process, so they can prioritize tasks in bringing the labs back up.  

    Response for Building Evacuation/General Fire Alarm:
    - Leave the building immediately.  Go to the Evacuation Assembly Point (EAP).
    - Do not re-enter the building until cleared to do so.
  2. Lab-only Evacuation/Local Alarm: A lab-only evacuation may be activated by toxic gas detectors in lab support areas. In a lab-only evacuation, the blue, Toxic Gas Beacon is activated, but the general building fire alarm is not.  When in the lab, you must leave immediately. Do not take time to finish your tasks in the lab. Do not take time to remove your bunnysuit or pick up your belongings. Leave the lab through the nearest exit and assemble in the office area outside the lab. 

    While safely out of the labs, wait for instructions.  You may remove your bunnysuit.  Keep it, so that when the OK is given to return to the labs, you may check your suit into the laundry and check out a fresh set.  Do not re-enter labs until staff have communicated that it is safe.  Let staffers know if you have any work underway or in process, so they can prioritize tasks in bringing the labs back up. 

    Response Procedures for Lab-only Evacuation:
    - Evacuate the lab immediately to the office area outside the lab.
    - Do not re-enter the lab until cleared to do so.
  3. Calling Lab-only Evacuation: A lab-only evacuation should be called for any hazardous situation which is isolated to the lab and does not pose a health or safety risk to building occupants outside the lab. Such situations may include a chemical spill or unusual odor.  Any other situation in which the health or safety of lab occupants may be of immediate concern warrants a lab-only evacuation. 

    A laboratory evacuation may be called by an announcement over the PA system (red phones.) Anyone may call an evacuation. Unless specifically otherwise instructed by staff, you should respond as would for a building evacuation:  Leave  immediately through the nearest lab exit: do not take time to finish your tasks in the lab, remove your bunnysuit, or pick up your belongings. Meet in the office area outside the lab, for further instructions.

    Response Procedures:
    - Announce evacuation over the PA system (red phones).
    - Evacuate immediately to the office area outside the lab.
    - Do not re-enter the lab until cleared to do so.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible emergency situations.  Please note that specific circumstances may dictate different procedures.  But these describe resources and considerations for responding to emergencies.

Type of Emergency


Health Threatening

Fire, toxic spills, gas leak, leave building and go to EAP#104, located on Serra Mall, just past the water fountain on the sidewalk

  • Pull the fire alarm, if alarm is not already sounding.
  • Leave the building immediately, using the marked emergency exit route.
  • Meet at the Evacuation Assembly Point (EAP #104)
  • DO NOT re-enter the building until cleared.
Major Earthquake
  • Take cover; wait for shaking to stop.
  • Leave building & meet at Evacuation Assembly Point (EAP # 104)
  • DO NOT pull the fire alarm unless there is a health-threatening hazard.

Life-Threatening Medical Emergency
(if in doubt, treat as an emergency)

  • Call out for help.
  • Dial 9-911* or 911 immediately (DO NOT hang up until told to do so.)
  • DO NOT move victim unless necessary.
  • AED Units are located near: Allen Gowning room entry, Annex 127X.

Non-Health Threatening Emergency (Building and facilities)

  • Emergencies during work hours call Kenny Green (650) 804-2032.
  • After hours, call Work Control at 3-2281.
  • First Aid kits are located near:  Allen Gowning room entry and Annex B104X.

Electrical Power Outage

  • Within 15 seconds, emergency lights and lab ventilation systems will come on. Leave the lab through the nearest exit.

Chemical Spill < 30ml

  • Only if your training covers it, use proper protective equipment and clean up.
Spill > 30 ml or will take longer than 15 minutes to clean up
  • During work hours, notify staff on lab page phone or Duty Phone (650) 521-7306
  • After work hours, call  EH&S at (650) 725-9999
Odor in the Lab
  • Leave the immediate area and report odor to Work Control, (650)723-2281.
  • If no alarm is sounding, make sure others leave (use Lab page phone)
  • During work hours, notify staff on lab page phone or Duty Phone (650) 521-7306


Last modified: 14 Oct 2022