MSE Safety & Equipment Newsletter 

May 2023

Important Upcoming Dates

  • May 4th: National Eye-Wash Flushing Day; if your lab space contains an eye wash unit, please observe this important holiday.  
  • Friday, May 5th: Last day that un-paid student researchers can work in MSE lab spaces, including MSE 499 and MSE Senior Design students. Before you leave, don’t forget to clean-up/store/dispose of your past samples & experiments! 
  • Friday, May 12th: Typically the last day of work for graduate students who are graduating this semester. 

Annual Indemnification Process Update 

Thank you to everyone who participated in our annual Integrated Safety Plan lab certification with REM, including researchers who completed the self-audit checklist and those who helped fix/abate any items of concern over the last few weeks. 

  • ARMS & MSEE: During their combined review, REM identified 61 items of concern (issues identified in the self-audits or questions REM had for MSE) and 9 safety deficiencies (safety issues directly observed during a lab inspection), all of which are currently being abated by MSE personnel. 
  • IMI: During their review, REM identified 0 items of concern and 4 safety deficiencies which are currently being addressed by IMI personnel.  
  • Kepner: Kepner has submitted their self-audit forms and inspections are forth coming in May/June.  
  • Do you work in another lab space? Check the ISP status of your lab at:    

Summer Activities

Safety isn’t something we only worry about during the academic year… MSE lab spaces are actively used during the summer months, by our graduate students and postdoc researchers as well as individuals from one of Purdue’s many summer research programs like SURF, DURI, SROP, etc. MSE lab courses also take place every summer, including MSE 235 and MSE 367. So when you encounter a new user in the lab space where you most frequently work, please introduce yourself and see if the individual has any questions, etc. While safety is - first and foremost - a personal responsibility, we can all help each other and work together to share best lab practices and improve the school’s safety culture. And please, email anytime with questions or concerns.  

Safety Best Practice: Reporting Near-Miss Incidents!

A near miss—sometimes called a close call or a good catch—is an unsafe event that falls short of causing significant injuries, property damage, or release of hazardous materials into the environment. For example, a researcher may have almost burned their hand on an unmarked extension from a tube furnace but recognized the hazard at the last minute. It is important to report these events because they can lead to interventions that may prevent major accidents and injuries in the future.  

Reporting: There are two ways to report near-misses within MSE: (1) email with a description of the near-miss event; and (2) scan any QR code on the lab doors and fill out the short Qualtrics form, which gets immediately sent to Jenni Fifer and Prof. Titus. Academic studies have shown that safety cultures in which near-miss reporting is encouraged will have a lower likelihood of major accidents. For more information, check out this recent Chemical & Engineering News article. 

What to do if you get injured at Purdue?

Unfortunately, accidents and injuries happen, typically when you least expect it – so let’s review what to do…  

  • First, try not to panic when an accident or injury occurs.  
  • Second, call 911 in the event of a major accident (all fires, electrical hazards, and large chemical spills) or major injury (defined below).  
  • Next, secure the area and take immediate action if needed (e.g., use the safety shower or eye wash, administer basic first aid).  
  • Then, tell someone – the lab supervisor, a MSE staff member, your lab instructor. 

Major injuries may include the following: chest pain, difficulty breathing, any kind of head injury, fractures, dislocations, uncontrolled bleeding, any kind of neck or spine injuries, severe back pain, severe eye injuries including chemical exposure, chemical burns. For any of these, call 911 for ambulance transport to a local hospital.  

Minor injuries typically include minor cuts, bruises, abrasions, and punctures; minor burns and rashes; dust or dirt in eyes; sprains, strains, and repetitive motion injuries. To treat minor injuries, your status at Purdue dictates where you should go and is detailed here. In brief, anyone who is paid by Purdue (faculty, staff, paid researchers at any level) should travel to Unity’s ROCC or Franciscan’s WorkingWell Lafayette clinic while un-paid students should go to PUSH. For immediate treatment of minor injuries after 5 pm and on weekends, Purdue personnel should go to an urgent care facility, either Franciscan ExpressCare West Lafayette or Unity Immediate Care 

All injuries, regardless of how slight, must be reported to your supervisor within 24 hours. The first reporting step is to click “Report an Injury” on REM’s homepage (link). The webpage will then direct paid personnel to complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form while unpaid personnel (students & visitors) will be directed to a form through the Office of Risk Management.  

Reminder: ARMS 2130/2132/2136 First Thursday Clean-Ups   

The MSE Safety Committee facilitates monthly clean-up sessions for the Sample Prep / Polishing / Microscopy lab spaces in ARMS (ARMS 2136, 2132, and 2130).  All active lab users of these spaces are required to help with 2 clean-up sessions per year, which take place during the summer on the second Thursday of every month from 3-4 pm – June 8, July 13, and August 10. The next cleaning session will be tomorrow, May 4th. To sign-up for this session or any future session, please click here: 

PPE Reminder

There has been a recent rise in MSE personnel wearing improper attire while working in our lab spaces. As a reminder, the PPE required for each lab space is listed on the Hazard Assessment door posting. Required lab attire typically includes the following:  

  1. Safety glasses  
  2. Closed-toed shoes  
  3. Long pants  
  4. Hair tied back  
  5. No loose clothing or jewelry  
  6. Lab coat (if working in a CHP lab)  

Additional task-specific PPE may also be required (e.g., heat-resistant silver suits when casting molten metal, thick gloves when handling liquid nitrogen). And please remember that eating & drinking in the lab spaces is not permitted (and unsanitary – yuck).   

Equipment Reporting Reminder

If you encounter a piece of broken equipment, or have any questions about a specific piece of equipment, you should contact a member of the MSE Technical Staff:  

  • For sample prep (i.e., saws, grinding wheels) equipment: Tim VanMeter  
  • For mechanical testing equipment and general use equipment checklist suggestions: Jenni Fifer  
  • For SEM: Talukder Alam   
  • For characterization equipment, scan the QR code (direct link). 

Important Links and Contact Information 

Thanks for reading everyone!


Prof. Erk, Jenni, and the MSE Safety Committee