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16.6 Heat and Heating Devices

Heat hazards within laboratories can occur from a number of sources; however, there are some simple guidelines that can be followed to prevent heat related injuries. These guidelines include:

  • Heating devices should be set up on a sturdy fixture and away from any ignitable materials (such as flammable solvents, paper products and other combustibles). Do not leave open flames (from Bunsen burners) unattended. 
  • Heating devices should not be installed near drench showers or other water spraying apparatus due to electrical shock concerns and potential splattering of hot water. 
  • Heating devices should have a backup power cutoff or temperature controllers to prevent overheating. If a backup controller is used, an alarm should notify the user that the main controller has failed. 
  • Provisions should be included in processes to make sure reaction temperatures do not cause violent reactions and a means to cool the dangerous reactions should be available. 
  • Post signs to warn people of the heat hazard to prevent burns.

When using ovens, the follow additional guidelines should be followed:

  • Heat generated should be adequately removed from the area. 
  • If toxic, flammable, or otherwise hazardous chemicals are evolved from the oven, then only use ovens with a single pass through design where air is ventilated out of the lab and the exhausted air is not allowed to come into contact with electrical components or heating elements. 
  • Heating flammables should only be done with a heating mantle or steam bath.

When using heating baths, these additional guidelines should be followed:

  • Heating baths should be durable and set up with firm support. 
  • Since combustible liquids are often used in heat baths, the thermostat should be set so the temperature never rises above the flash point of the liquid. Check the SDS for the chemical to determine the flashpoint. Compare that flashpoint with the expected temperature of the reaction to gauge risk of starting a fire.