Laboratory Safety Commitment and Target Areas
The University of Idaho is committed to providing a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. The university seeks to engage all laboratories in a culture of safety effort aimed at implementing best practice lab safety measures. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and the Office of Research Assurances (ORA) have identified five target areas for laboratory safety that can be improved campuswide:
- Store chemical waste in appropriate, properly labeled containers.
- Containers must have tight-fitting (screw-cap) lids and be closed except when adding waste.
- Use containers that are in good condition with no evidence of leaks, cracks, defects or surface contamination.
- Ensure containers are labeled with words that identify contents as soon as any waste is added to the container. When applicable, an accumulation log for each container that lists the contents and quantities added must be readily available for inspection.
- Evaluate safety data sheets (SDSs) to determine appropriate PPE.
- Proper eye wear and a lab coat must be worn if there is a potential for chemicals to splash in the eyes or on the body.
- Closed toed shoes and long pants must be worn when entering a lab.
- Cuts and punctures from broken glass, needles, and other sharp objects are a common lab injury.
- Identify potential sharps hazards within your lab and how to avoid them.
- Evaluate your lab disposal procedures for glassware, needles, scalpels, and other sharp objects.
- Sharps disposal containers must not be over-filled.
- Biological waste should be managed based on the biosafety manual rules and procedures. Contact ORA for the correct biological waste disposal procedures.
- Do not store material where it prevents access or proper function of emergency equipment. These areas need to be readily accessible in case of emergency.
- Eighteen inches clearance is required below fire sprinklers and 24 inches clearance is required for areas without sprinklers.
- Storing large equipment and containers in fume hoods affects the air flow, which can result in potential employee exposure to air contaminants.
- Remove unnecessary equipment and containers from fume hoods to minimize negative impacts on air flow.
- Do not use fume hoods for chemical storage.
- Do not store materials in fume hoods within six inches of the sash opening while working. Perform work at least 6 inches within the fume hood
- Large equipment that must be used the fume hood should be elevated on top of the hood benchtop. Please close the sash when not actively using the fume hood.
The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) formed a task force in 2015 that addressed how to implement an effective lab safety program within universities due to recent lab accidents that lead to severe injuries. As a result, the University of Idaho has agreed to renew its commitment to a culture of safety. In addition, an Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee will be created to address implementation of laboratory policies campus-wide, including for example, a laboratory signage program.
As U of I strives to become a Carnegie Foundation R1 university by 2025, the university community must implement and maintain strong and effective lab safety practices. The laboratory safety commitment will be a transformational approach to safety campus-wide. It will also be an effective tool for cultivating an institution that values safe work practices in the lab.
Training is an integral part of an effective safety program. ORA and EHS are available to provide training and technical assistance to departments, unit safety committees and principal investigators, upon request.
If you are responsible for a laboratory we request that you print the laboratory safety commitment and post it in a prominent location within your laboratory by July 2017. Posting this document demonstrates the laboratory’s commitment to safety in addition to the successful implementation of the five target areas by the year’s end, Dec. 31, 2017. EHS will conduct lab walkthroughs beginning in October 2017 to assess how labs are addressing the five target areas. Results of the lab walkthroughs will be distributed to departments and PIs within a month of the inspections.
For more information
D. Ryan Buford