Undergraduate Computer Engineering Laboratory Safety Guidelines

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for its students, staff, and faculty. The department requires its students, staff, and faculty to adhere to basic General Laboratory Safety Rules in the Computer Engineering undergraduate laboratories. All laboratory operations contain some elements of danger. Safe working habits are essential in experimental work. Good housekeeping, using the right tools for the right jobs, avoiding hazards, keeping the lab area clean - all contribute to safe operation. Accidents should be reported as soon as possible to a faculty member. Dial 911 in case of a medical emergency.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • Occupants shall be familiar with the locations and operation of safety and emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Fire extinguishers and first aid kits are posted at one of the entrances to each laboratory.
  • Occupants should also be familiar with severe weather shelters and evacuation routes. Maps are posted in each wing near the stairwells detailing emergency equipment, exits, and shelters.
  • In case of emergency, call USCPD at 803-777-4215 or dial 911. Be sure to give the address (301 Main Street), floor, and room number.
  • Unauthorized person(s) is not allowed in a laboratory. 'Authorized' means having business (i.e., a class, project, ...) in the laboratory with the permission of the CSE faculty or staff. Anyone under the age of eighteen has to be under immediate and direct supervision of a qualified/authorized person at all times.
  • Never open (i.e., remove cover) any equipment in the laboratories.
  • Report all problems with lab equipment to the lab instructor, TA, or CSE Systems Manager at 803-777- 4611.
  • Food or drink shall not be brought into, stored in, or consumed in undergraduate laboratories. One exception is sealed bottles of water as long as they are kept as far away from live circuits as possible.
  • Shoes shall be worn that provide full coverage of the feet, and appropriate personal clothing shall be worn in laboratories.
  • Appropriate eye protection shall be worn when using soldering or operating mechanical equipment.
  • Horseplay of any type is not acceptable, especially in the laboratory. Act in a mature manner and respect your group members.

Electrical Safety Guidelines

  • All undergraduate laboratories projects are designed for voltages below 50 volts peak or 50 volts DC. OSHA permits "unqualified persons" to work on such circuits with "awareness-type" training, which is what this document is. Regardless, current kills, not voltage. Currents above 100mA can be considered lethal while currents at one-fifth that value are very dangerous. The current depends on body resistance, resistance between body and ground and the applied voltage. Even a 42V (constant) DC supply can be fatal. Therefore, never take for granted “low” voltage.
  • Check equipment and cables carefully before applying power. Report any faulty equipment to the TA or CSE Systems Manager.
  • If you are working on a lab project that has internal power supplies, turn the main power switch OFF before you begin work on the circuits. Wait a few seconds for power supply capacitors to discharge. These steps will also help prevent damage to circuits.
  • If you are working with a circuit that will be connected to an external power supply, turn the power switch of the external supply OFF before you begin work on the circuit.
  • Check circuit power supply voltages for proper value and for type (DC, AC, frequency) before energizing the circuit.
  • Do not run wires over moving or rotating equipment, or on the floor, or string them across walkways or from bench-to-bench.
  • When using large electrolytic capacitors, be sure to wait long enough (approximately five RC time constants) for the capacitors to discharge before working on the circuit.
  • All conducting surfaces intended to be at ground potential should be connected together.

Electrical Emergency Response

  • When someone suffers serious electrical shock, he or she may be knocked unconscious or be unable to move. If the victim is still in contact with the electrical source, immediately turn off the power source, i.e., unplug power cord, throw breaker(s), or push the Emergency Power Off button (if available).

  • IMPORTANT: Do not touch a victim still in contact with a power source; you could electrocute yourself. Have someone call for emergency medical assistance immediately (911). Administer first-aid if you have had adequate training.

Soldering Safety Guidelines

  • Always wear safety glasses while soldering. Solder can “spit” and trimming off leads or excess solder can create flyaway that could injury yourself as well as other people nearby.
  • Do not touch the element or tip of the soldering ion. It is very hot (over 400o C) and will burn.
  • Do not inhale fumes from the soldering process.
  • Always return the soldering iron to its stand when not in use. NEVER put it down on your workbench/table.
  • Keep the cleaning sponge wet during use.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling flux and solder containing lead. Use lead-free solder whenever possible.
  • ALWAYS turn your soldering station off before leaving the laboratory.

Fabrication Equipment Safety Guidelines

  • Safety glasses with side shields must be worn at all times.
  • If guards or safety mechanisms are present, do not remove or disable them.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, loose neckwear or exposed jewelry while operating machinery.
  • Do not work alone. The buddy system is mandatory!
  • Pull back and secure long hair.
  • Always keep hands and other body parts a safe distance away from moving machine parts, work pieces, and cutters.
  • Do not attempt to oil, clean, adjust, or repair any machine while it is running.
  • Report defective machinery to the CSE Systems Manager.

(Adopted from the Department of Electrical Engineering Laboratory Safety Guidelines)