In the past several years, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has found an increase in the frequency of laboratory accidents and injuries. A framework to document, assess, and mitigate hazards is a critical starting point for ensuring safe laboratory practices. To address this requirement, I was part of a team working on developing Reactive Hazards Evaluation Analysis and Compilation Tool (RHEACT), an online platform to compile and scrutinize hazards-related information, was developed. This work was jointly supported by the CISTAR consortium and the Purdue Process Safety and Assurance Center (P2SAC)
When planning an experiment, the researchers provide RHEACT: (1) information about the chemicals involved in the reaction, in the form of Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and (2) operating parameters of the reaction. Through the user-supplied SDS, an operational hazard matrix and a chemical compatibility matrix are generated. In addition, adiabatic temperature rise of the reaction is estimated to ensure that the chemistry is within user-controlled bounds. The user is provided with a broad initial evaluation of potential hazards and is notified of safety concerns associated with the reaction before conducting the experiment.
During the development of the tool, I was involved in following tasks: