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Physics 307L, Fall 2010

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Winter Break Lab Fest       

Safety is a part of your grade!

Before starting your lab work each day, think about the safety precautions for you, your lab mates, and the equipment. The instructor will quiz you on aspects of the safety for each lab. For example, "what is the most dangerous aspect of this lab?" "which piece of equipment is most likely to break?" "what is the maximum voltage you can put into that multimeter?"


  • To reduce accidents, you need to come to class prepared to perform your experiments safely and properly.
  • Report any unsafe conditions and unsafe acts to your instructor or TA.
  • Short cuts should be avoided.
  • Report any injury or near accident to your instructor or TA as soon as possible.
  • If you are taking prescribed drugs, some which may have side effects, inform your instructor BEFORE beginning the day’s work.


Good housekeeping and general upkeep are an essential part of every job.

  • Work areas, aisles, and equipment shall be kept clear of loose materials, extra tools, unnecessary equipment, and scraps.
  • All electrical cords shall be UL approved and in good condition. Any unapproved or damaged cord(s) shall be taken out of service and reported immediately.
  • Spills such as grease, water, or oil cleaned up as soon as possible; a delay could result in an accident.
  • Dispose of flammable and combustible materials in approved containers.
  • Wear a pair of gloves before you start any cleanup of broken glass. Discard all cracked and broken glass items immediately. Place the broken glass in a stiff cardboard box; use a pan and brush to pick up the large pieces of broken glass. A dampened paper towel can help to pick up glass slivers.
  • Do not place lamps, asbestos containing materials, batteries, fluorescent tubes or liquids into trash receptacles. Your instructor or TA will contact SRS (Safety and Risk services) to assist with proper disposal techniques.
  • When handling trash, always be aware of broken glass, sharp objects and needles.
  • Remember to use proper lifting and/or bending techniques when working with heavy or bulky items. Use a dolly or other approved lifting device with all large and/or heavy item(s).


  • With the medium and high voltages we use, the biggest risk is cardiac arrest due to electrical shock. The first rule is never to work with power supplies alone. There is no chance of being rescued if your heart stops and you're alone.
  • Survey the work area for any unsafe conditions such as bare wires, bad power cords, high voltages or exposed electrodes.
  • Know the limitations of the electrical equipment you are using. Digital Multimeters and oscilloscopes have maximum allowed input voltages, know what those voltages are.
  • Adjust meters to the correct setting before making your measurement not after.
  • Be aware of ground points and high voltage points. Don’t put yourself between them.
  • Never work where there is water and voltages above 50 Volts.
  • Don’t use both hands when checking for high voltages. Keep one hand in your pocket. You don’t want any electrical current to flow through your chest cavity. Remember that it is current that kills. A good (e.g. sweaty) connection of 6 volts across your body can kill as well as a poor connection of 600 or 6000 volts. It only takes a few milliamps to kill you.


  • Review the equipment list for each experiment before coming to class.
  • Find out if there are any warnings associated with the equipment.
  • Some items can be damaged or destroyed if connected improperly, check things such as polarity and voltage settings twice before turning the power on.
  • Be aware some devices do not like to have full voltage applied all at once. It is better to slowly “ramp up” the voltage on things like PMTs.