Plant Sciences


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Photo by Morten Nisker on flickrThese are general safety guidelines. For more specific information, contact the NDSU Safety Office (701-231-7759;

  1. If an emergency does occur:
    • Call 911 and report the nature of the emergency.
    • Do NOT move any injured person unless they are in further danger. Keep them warm.
    • If chemicals have been spilled on someone, get the person under a shower and wash the affected area thoroughly. If a person's clothing is on fire, wrap the person with a fire blanket or get them under a shower.
  2. If you are injured and seek non-emergency medical care, a reporting process must be followed. The process involves notifying your supervisor and NDSU's Worker’s Compensation Claims Specialist (701-231-6740), and obtaining necessary medical care from a designated medical provider (DMP). Our DMP is Sanford Health Occupational Medicine Clinic, 3838 12th Ave N. (701-234-4700). Please become familiar with this process, which is explained in detail on Employee/Supervisor Incident Report and Near Miss Report forms kept in the Plant Sciences main office and available at the link below. Incident/Injury forms must be filed with the Safety Office within 24 hours of the incident and are available at:
  3. Safety training is required for all new students and periodically thereafter. Be sure to discuss the training necessary for your specific activities with your supervisor/advisor. Check with the Safety Office for times and dates of regular classroom training or complete online training if available.
    • Annual completion of Baseline Safety Training is required. (
    • Those working in a laboratory setting must also complete Lab and Chemical Safety Training. (
    • All students conducting fieldwork or who otherwise may work around pesticides are required to complete Worker Protection Standard (WPS) pesticide training unless they are otherwise certified. This training is provided each spring by the Pesticide Program Training Specialist, or may be provided by another certified commercial/public applicator. (
    • Additional specialized training may be required depending on specific activities. Such additional training may include Radiation Safety, Recombinant DNA, and Defensive Driving.
  4. Smoking is prohibited on the NDSU grounds, in university buildings, and state vehicles. Smoking is an obvious fire hazard, and has a synergistic injurious effect when combined with exposure to many chemicals, especially if inhaled. Drinking, eating, and storage of food/beverages in the laboratory and chemical storage areas is forbidden because of the possibility of chemicals getting into the mouth or lungs.
  5. Become familiar with the NDSU Chemical Hygiene Plan and Hazard Communication Program
  6. Each project in the Plant Sciences Department has Safe Operating Procedures (SOP) specific for the work encountered on that project. Your supervisor should discuss these protocols with you before you begin work. General SOPs can be found at:
  7. Always check material safety data sheets (MSDS) and SOPs prior to using new chemicals. Hazards of use, personal protective equipment (PPE), and proper cleanup and disposal are listed. A large number of common substances are acute respiratory hazards and should be used under a fume hood in a well-ventilated room.
  8. Learn the flammability, reactivity, corrosiveness, and toxicity of materials before using them. This is important for proper use and waste disposal. Consult the hazard label found on each chemical container and the MSDS. Links to additional information concerning the safe use of chemicals can be found at:
  9. Most chemicals are harmful to people and other animals/organisms to some degree, depending on dosage. Direct contact should be avoided with any chemical substance considered "safe" today which may in the future be found to cause unsuspected long-term disorders. Many substances are absorbed readily into the body through the skin and through inhalation. It is especially important to keep your hands and face clean.
  10. The NDSU Chemical Hygiene Plan requires that you be informed of all potential hazards to yourself in the workplace. In turn, you must inform those around you of any possible dangers such as harmful vapors, residual radiation, and carcinogens that you are using. To minimize exposure to others, keep laboratory doors closed when using highly toxic substances or carcinogens, and work in a fume hood when appropriate.
  11. Control or restrain long hair and loose clothing when in the laboratory. A protective lab coat and long pants must be worn when working with hazardous materials. Appropriate gloves, eye protection, and shoes must also be worn (see the Chemical Hygiene Plan).
  12. Mouth suction should never be used to fill pipettes, start siphons, etc.
  13. Laboratory areas, including chemical storage areas, must be secured from access by unauthorized persons. Lock all laboratories and storage areas when unattended.
  14. Before leaving the laboratory:
    • Return all chemicals and other materials to their proper storage place.
    • Turn off all services not in use such as water, electricity, gases, and vacuums.
    • Lower all hood sashes to the lowest practical level.
    • Turn off lights in the fume hoods and laboratory.
    • Ensure that office and laboratory doors are locked.
  15. Chemical reactions that are left to run unattended (especially overnight) are prime sources for fires, floods, and explosions. Equipment such as power stirrers, hot plates, heating mantles, and water condensers should not be left on overnight. Unattended reactions should be checked periodically. Always leave a note with a phone number where you can be reached in case of emergency.
  16. Know the location of emergency exits, phones, blankets, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.
  17. Hazardous wastes require special handling, storage, and disposal. Please consult the Safety Office or Chemical Hygiene Plan for proper procedures.
    • The Safety Office requires records to be kept in each lab as wastes are generated. The paperwork associated with the campus disposal procedure is designed to ensure the safety of those people moving and incinerating the wastes.
    • Liquid wastes should be stored in glass or plastic 2.5 gallon containers (available from the Safety Office), and containers must be closed when not in use.
    • Waste Disposal Request forms can be obtained from the Safety Office, department Safety Officer, or lab supervisor. If you are in doubt about disposal of any chemical, please consult with these people. Tyvek tags are also available for labeling of waste containers.
    • Persons working with radioactive materials have more restrictive use and disposal procedures and should be aware of these before beginning their research. Radiation Safety Training is conducted on campus and must be attended by new students conducting research with radioactive materials.
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