When working with cryogenic equipment in the laboratory proper safety procedures are extremely important. Materials under cryogenic conditions can be dangerous, and simple mistakes can lead to serious issues. The five tips below can help you maintain a safe work environment:
- Do not overfill cryogenic containers. Cylinders and dewars should not be filled to more than 80% capacity. Pressure buildup can occur when gases expand upon warming, which could lead to explosions. Leaving 20% of empty space will allow for gas expansion without drastic pressure buildup.
- Do not use improper materials. Many materials can shatter when frozen by liquid nitrogen or other cryogenic gases. Rubber and plastic can shatter like glass because of the extremely cold temperatures, so it is important to be sure that your materials are meant to be used for cryogenic purposes. Shattering material poses safety and health risks as well as potentially ruining valuable samples/research.
- Do not disregard backup equipment. Backup equipment should always be in place so that it can activate automatically if something goes wrong. Test it regularly to ensure that it can perform at the same level as your other equipment.
- Do not store samples in collective groups. Samples should be split up between different freezers, sometimes even different geographic locations, so that if one collection of samples goes bad there is another group that is still viable.
- Do not neglect proper clothing. When dealing with liquid nitrogen one should always be as protected as possible. Cryogenic gloves, closed-toe boots, long pants, long shirts, and face shields/goggles offer protection against splashing liquid nitrogen. Coming into direct contact with liquid nitrogen or other cryogenic materials can cause severe freeze-burns on skin, especially areas of the face, neck, and eyes.
These tips may seem like common sense, but failure to properly adhere to them can have disastrous consequences. If you require safety equipment such as cryogenic gloves or aprons, visit our website. We offer a range of high-quality protective garments.