1.10 Laboratory Safety

Vice President of Business Affairs

Office of Environmental, Health, Safety & Hazardous Waste

Posted On: July 24, 2013 |


  1. To promote safety awareness and encourage safe work practices in the laboratory.


  1. Faculty/staff are responsible for the administration of safe work practices and procedures in their respective work areas.

General Safety

  1.   Awareness
    1.   Label all storage areas and chemicals properly.
    2.   Use fume hoods whenever possible but not as daily storage for chemicals.
    3.   Be familiar with safe procedures to take when working with or exposed to:
      1.   Corrosives
      2.   Carcinogens
      3.   Biohazards
      4.   Compressed Gases
      5.   Radioactive Materials
      6.   Toxic Chemicals
      7.   Reactive Chemicals
    4.   Have Safety Data Sheet (SDS) readily available for all chemicals in the laboratory areas.
  2.   Personal Safety
    1.   Personal Protective Equipment
      1.   Proper eye protection should be worn in keeping with the hazards associated with the work being performed.
        1.   Eyewear should offer both front and side protection.
        2.   The use of contact lenses in a chemical laboratory should be avoided.
    2.   Protective clothing, i.e., lab coats/aprons should be worn to protect against spills and splashes.
    3.   Proper gloves should be worn while performing work in the laboratory.
    4.   Other PPE considerations might include head protection, hearing protection, respiratory protection and foot protection.
  3.   Personal Hygiene
    1.   Wash hands with warm soapy water before leaving laboratory.
    2.   Keep exposed skin covered.
    3.   Avoid wearing long hair, loose clothing in laboratories especially in close proximity to open flames and operating machinery.
    4.   Never use your mouth to pipette chemicals.
  4.   Fire Prevention
    1.   Flammable Liquids and Solids
      1.   Purchase and store flammables in smallest quantities possible.
      2.   Store flammables in appropriate cabinets/cans.
      3.   Do not store incompatible chemicals together.
      4.   Do not store flammables in standard refrigerators.; an explosion-proof refrigerator is recommended.
    2.   Electrical
      1.   Be aware of ignition sources in the laboratory.
      2.   Make sure all electrical cords are in good condition.
      3.   All electrical outlets should be grounded.
      4.   All electrical cords should be secured and should not present a tripping or other mechanical hazard.
  5.   Housekeeping
    1.   Equipment
      1.   All equipment should be inspected before use and deficiencies corrected before use.
      2.   Machinery under repair or adjustment should be properly locked out and tagged prior to servicing.
      3.   Only authorized personnel should do service work.
    2.   Work Areas
      1.   Keep floors dry and clean at all times.
        1.   Immediately attend to spills of any type in an appropriate manner.
      2.   Eliminate hazards by maintaining areas in a good state of order.
  6.   Emergency Procedures
    1.   Notify proper personnel in the event of an emergency.
      1.   Department Head
      2.   University Police (ext. 5711)
      3.   Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Hazardous Waste (ext. 5887)
    2.   Know the location and use of:
      1.   Safety Shower/Eyewash Station
      2.   Fire Blanket
      3.   Fire Alarm
      4.   First Aid Kit
      5.   Spill Kit
      6.   Fire Extinguisher
        1.   Extinguishers should be compatible with the combustibles / flammables in the area.
  7.   Laboratory Safety Equipment
    1.   Fume Hoods
      1.   Fume hoods should capture, contain, and expel emissions generated by hazardous chemicals.
      2.   Departments shall assure all fume hoods are maintained and inspected on a regular basis.
        1.   All hoods should have an annual flow check with a current inspection tag.
          1.   A third party vendor should conduct flow checks.
          2.   Departments shall maintain all documentation of annual checks and within the department head office and provide copies to the Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Hazardous Waste.
    2.   Storage Cabinets
      1.   Types of cabinets for use in laboratories:
        1.   Flammable Liquid
        2.   Acid/Corrosive
        3.   Bulk Storage
        4.   Safety Can
      2.   Use Of Cabinets
        1.   Never store chemicals in alphabetical order unless separated out into compatible groups.
        2.   Incompatible reagents should not be stored next to each other.
        3.   Cabinets should be vented.
    3.   Explosion Resistant Refrigerators
      1.   Each unit should be prominently labeled with appropriate hazard warnings.
      2.   Containers placed in refrigerator should be capped or sealed and properly labeled.
      3.   Units are not to be used for food or beverage storage.
    4.   Eyewash / Safety Showers
      1.   Eyewash/safety showers should be in every laboratory.
        1.   Should be accessible and clearly marked.
        2.   Should be inspected monthly and documentation kept by the department head.
  8.   Chemical Waste Collection and Disposal
    1.   The Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Hazardous Waste shall be contacted for the collection and disposal of chemical waste.
      1.   A Request Form for Collection of Hazardous Waste/Materials must be submitted prior to collection and disposal. (Section 7: Forms) Request shall be made in duplicate, one attached to the waste materials and another sent to the Office of EHSHW.
      2.   Chemicals must be separated and labeled by the requestor.
        1.   Quantities, mass or volume as appropriate, should be indicated on the request form.
        2. Combined waste should indicate approximate percentages of various chemical content in each container.
    2.   The Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Hazardous Waste shall transport the waste chemicals to the hazardous materials storage building or have waste materials scheduled to be picked up directly from the depart/building by the third party hazardous material waste disposal vendor.
    3.   The Office of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Hazardous Waste shall contact the contract vendor for pick-up and disposal of waste chemicals/materials according to local, state, and federal guidelines.

Laboratory Inspections

  1. Frequency
    1.   Laboratories should be inspected on a quarterly basis.
      1.   Safety of the assigned area is the responsibility of the faculty/staff utilizing that area.
      2.   The use of the Laboratory Inspection Checklist (Section 7:Forms) is encouraged.
  2.   Discrepancies
    1.   Discrepancies should be reported to the department head.
      1.   The department head should keep on file inspection checklists from all laboratories.
      2.   The department head should notify Physical Plant personnel of the discrepancies so that corrective action can occur as soon as possible.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

  1. Resource for valuable information for handling, use, storage of chemicals.
    1.   Chemical Manufacturer
    2.   Chemical Identity
    3.   Physical/Chemical Characteristics
    4.   Physical Hazards
    5.   Health Hazards
    6.   Routes Of Entry
    7.   Exposure Limits
    8.   Safe Handling
    9.   Control Measures
    10.   Personal Protective Equipment
    11.   Emergency/First Aid
  2.   Availability
    1.   Readily available within each lab and the departmental office for each building.
    2. Copies of appropriate SDS should also be sent to the Safety Office and notice given if a chemical is taken out of inventory.

Document Details

Issue Date: 03/16/04
Review Date: 03/15/2021
Revision NO: 2.0
Revision Date: 08/29/2019
Revision Note: Revision in reference to Safety Data Sheets(SDS)