Before beginning experimental operations a review of the design and proposed operation is highly recommended. The result of the review should be written instructions in the form of a standard operating plan. The review should:

  • Assemble peer expertise to identify hazards through conduct of what-if response analyses of experimental activities.
  • Identify mitigations for identified hazards.
  • Include a review of shut-down operations and emergency procedures, and ensure that local emergency responders are informed of proposed experiment hazards.
  • Ensure that participating laboratory personnel have received hydrogen safety training.
  • The SOP should include a written protocol, specify maximum permissible quantities of hydrogen and other potentially hazardous materials, identify personal protective equipment (PPE), and summarize emergency procedures.
  • These analyses should be conducted whenever a new person is starting an experiment, the equipment or procedures have been modified, or there has been a near miss or other issue that needs to be reviewed.

Other recommended best practices include:

  • As appropriate for potentially hazardous operations, at least two personnel should participate in an experimental operation using the “buddy” system.
  • Periodically check all hydrogen piping for leaks by such means as pressure or vacuum leak checking to ensure that they remain leak-tight.
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment, including safety glasses, goggles, face-shields, fire-retardant aprons or lab-coats, gloves, etc.
  • If there is a need for frequent replacement of hydrogen cylinders, consider use of a small hydrogen generator (e.g., an electrolyzer) instead.
  • Laboratory operations, such as reactions at temperatures and pressures either above or below ambient conditions, should be conducted in a manner that minimizes hazards.
  • Shielding should be used whenever there is a reasonable probability of explosion or vigorous chemical reaction and associated hazards during charging, sampling, venting, and discharge of products.
  • Glass apparatus containing hydrogen under vacuum or above ambient pressure should be shielded, wrapped with tape, or otherwise protected from shattering (such as engineering controls or by apparatus design) during use.
  • Only properly designed and labeled equipment should be used for vacuum operation.
  • Consider a maintenance schedule for standard laboratory equipment and instruments to include function, cleanliness, and calibration.
  • Quantities of reactants should be limited and procedures should be developed to control or isolate vigorous or exothermic reactions.
  • Incompatible chemicals such as oxidizers should not be stored or used in the vicinity of equipment and piping containing hydrogen.
  • Materials not in use should be returned to their proper storage location.
  • Fume hoods should not be used for chemical storage.