EH&S Safety News

Hazard Alert: Check Shelf Clips in Flammable Materials Cabinets
by Peter Lang, Respirator Program Administrator and Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Two shelf clip failures have occurred on campus in the last two years, resulting in flammable chemical spills. Now, and at regular frequencies, is a good time to check the shelf clips in all of your flammable materials cabinets.

One spill occurred when an adjustable shelf clip in a cabinet under a chemical fume hood was loose. When a research scientist moved materials on the shelf, the right front clip failed, tipping the shelf forward and spilling several one-liter bottles onto the floor. Most of the bottles were broken in the fall.

Another spill occurred when a student was retrieving some chemicals from a cabinet under a fume hood. The right front clip failed, dumping the shelf contents to the ground and breaking several bottles.

On a recent visit to a South Lake Union laboratory, an EH&S employee found that the right front clip of a shelf under a fume hood was inserted at the top but not at the bottom. This was a spill waiting to happen!

Neither of the spills resulted in injury or property damage, but the cleanup for one of the events cost over $4,000. Spills resulting from shelf failure can be hazardous and expensive but are preventable.

To prevent spills, schedule regular audits. Be careful when checking the shelf clips in your flammables cabinets, in case there is a loose or failed clip. Properly secure clips that are loose and replace any that are missing. A minute’s work could avoid a chemical spill/exposure and save time and money.

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