Oven Safety in Lab Areas

June 2016

Hazards: Fire, Explosion, Fumes

Ovens are used in laboratory areas during various laboratory processes including drying glassware, sample drying, melting, and chemical reactions. It is important that precautions are taken to ensure that overheating of material, generation of toxic airborne contaminants, fire and/or explosion do not occur.

The following precautions should be used when operating ovens in lab areas:

  1. Inspect the oven prior to each use and ensure it is in good operating condition. Check the cord and outlet for any damage. Ensure any temperature sensing devices are properly installed and will turn off power in the event of overheating.
  2. If the oven is not operating within normal operating parameters, it must be taken out of service and not used until repairs are made. Unplug and place  “Defective Equipment” tags on the plug and oven door to prevent use.
  3. Regularly check oven calibration to ensure the temperature read-out is accurate. This is normally performed with a thermometer. Never use a mercury thermometer.
  4. Use the correct oven for the work intended. Consider the maximum temperature needed and the temperature range of the oven. Do not use an oven that will significantly exceed the maximum safe working temperature.
  5. Ensure that the oven is set to the proper temperature required for the experiment. This includes the high temperature shut-off set point.
  6. Do not heat closed containers unless using specifically authorized equipment that includes an approved pressure relief device. This will be identified in an approved Work Activity.
  7. The oven should remain clean and free of chemical spills and residues.
  8. Do not use materials in the oven that are flammable or can create flammable vapors.  This presents a fire or explosion hazard.
  9. Use of plastics in ovens must be avoided due to the possibility of melting. Many plastics have melting points within the range of a drying oven. If plastic melts, it can cause a fire.
  10. Ensure that the heating process will not create any hazardous fumes. If there is a possibility of generating fumes, the oven must be connected to an approved ventilation system.
  11. Do not store combustible materials such as plastics, paper and cardboard on top, under, behind, or next to ovens. Store flammable liquids and combustible materials away from hot surfaces.
  12. No residential or household types of ovens or microwaves are permitted for use in laboratory areas. All ovens must be approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) and have a green LBNL electrical approval sticker affixed.
  13. All personnel who operate ovens in the laboratory areas must be familiar in their operation. This includes on the job training on oven set-up, limitations, and precautions for preventing fires, over pressurization, and hazardous fumes.
  14. Always have a pair of hot gloves available near the oven for protection from hot surfaces. Hot glass looks just like cold glass. Do not test temperatures with fingers. Always wear BOTH hot gloves as a precaution.
  15. Open hot ovens with care. Stand to one side when opening the door to avoid high temperature.

If you have questions regarding use of ovens in your lab area, contact your supervisor or the ETA Safety Manager, Ron Scholtz, at X8137.