Keep a simple first-aid cabinet and be sure that everyone who will use it knows how to use it. It would be appropriate if there could be at least one person per shift who understands basic first aid and knows how to use the first-aid cabinet. It may also be worth considering that the company has a recognized and qualified medical doctor who is close by the heat-treatment facility and who could respond to a serious emergency. If possible, have the doctor give simple periodical demonstrations of first aid for burn victims and how to react in the event of an emergency.
Safety Clothing (particularly lab associates)
The major areas of concern in a metallurgical laboratory are around the acid mixing station. Be sure that the fume-cabinet air-evacuation system is functioning and is actually blowing out to the outside atmosphere or through some sort of a fume scrubber.
Eye Protection in a Metallurgical Laboratory
There should be a flood shower to literally drench and flood an acid splash victim as well as an eye wash station. This will enable an acid splash victim to spray cold clean water into the eyes in the event of an acid splash to the face. Because there is always a chance that an acid splash may occur to the face or hands, be sure to wear the appropriate face and hand-protection clothing.
The lab technician should be wearing: safety glasses, eye goggles over the glasses and a full-face visor over the goggles, which will also cover the head and sides of the face.
Body Protection Against Acid Splashes
Wear an appropriate long-sleeved lab overall with a high-button collar to protect the upper neck if there is an acid splash. When mixing acids for etchants, the lab technician should also be wearing long rubber gloves up to at least the upper arm. In addition to this, the lab technician should also be wearing a front-covering rubber apron to protect the front of the body from acid splashes.
Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide
One should be aware of the dangers of CO and CO2. One cannot smell these gases, and if they are present, they can be very toxic. Be sure to have good air movement within the heat-treatment shop, especially between integral-quench furnaces, so that the toxic gases do not have any chance of accumulating. Every month, it would be prudent to do a walk-around check with a gas detector (particularly for CO and CO2 gases).
Nitrogen is not a poisonous gas, but it can kill you by oxygen starvation if you become exposed to the gas. It is odorless and colorless yet is also lighter than air. So if you go into a bottom-loading elevator hearth furnace that has been backfilled with nitrogen, make sure that all the residual nitrogen has been dispersed by an air line or an air blower.
Argon is a process gas that is used extensively in aerospace heat-treatment processing. Argon is both a heavy gas and an inert gas. If your furnace is a pit furnace and you have processed a load of tempering under an argon atmosphere, do not (repeat DO NOT) go into the furnace process chamber until you are satisfied that all of the argon has been dispersed form the pit chamber.
Argon is heavier than air and will displace air at the bottom of the furnace pit chamber. Make sure that you have an outside partner that fully understands what can happen, what the potential signs are of something occurring and, most importantly, how to get you out of the process chamber. Make sure that you both have gone through confined-space training and that you both have checked and double-checked everything.
To be continued…