Laboratory Waste Disposal Procedures
Cleaning and waste disposal services in a laboratory requires strict adherence to applicable policies and procedures. It is a joint effort between laboratory personnel, Building Services personnel and Environmental Health and Safety personnel. Our goal is to provide cleaning and waste disposal services for laboratories, develop procedures that everyone understands and will follow and through this process avoid the hazards to personnel conducting these services.
For laboratories, Building Services will empty municipal trash, supply paper towels for hand washing areas, sweep and vacuum floors, mop floors and refinish floors when needed. Waste disposal is managed by the appropriate party and typically includes the following categories: municipal waste, hazardous waste, radioactive waste, biological waste and sharps. Each waste category must be handled and managed according to established procedures and work practices.
Laboratory Waste Disposal Responsibilities
Laboratory personnel are responsible for managing their activities to eliminate or minimize hazards and to provide a safe working environment for anyone who has a need to enter their laboratory. It is important for laboratory personnel to recognize that other personnel will not be familiar with laboratory activities and may not understand what is being disposed.
Laboratory personnel must keep floors free of obstructions and hazards to allow Building Services personnel to service the laboratory and clean the floors. Building Services personnel will not pick up sharps from the floor, such as broken glass, glass pipets, plastic pipet tips, glass capillary tubes, razor blades and other related sharps.
All spills and hazardous materials must be cleaned up by laboratory personnel or, if necessary, with assistance from Environmental Health and Safety personnel. Floors, working surfaces, and equipment must be free of any hazardous residues.
Building Services personnel should review the activities and waste practices of each laboratory with laboratory personnel to ensure that everyone understands where and what hazards are present, what services will be provided, and where the wastes are located. Building Services personnel should wear, at a minimum, safety glasses and gloves when working in a laboratory. If you notice a hazardous situation (e.g., spill on floor, hazardous materials in the municipal waste, sharps not properly packaged, etc.) contact your supervisor. The supervisor should discuss the situation with laboratory personnel or leave a discrepancy notice.
Environmental Health and Safety personnel develop procedures for disposing of wastes that may be hazardous. EHS personnel provide timely removal of hazardous and radioactive waste and provide assistance for the clean-up of hazardous spills, if necessary.
Laboratory Waste Disposal Procedure Summary
Make sure the materials placed in the municipal waste are suitable for this type of disposal, especially:
- Do not place any liquids in the municipal waste.
- Do not dispose of chemical waste, including stock containers with unused product, in the municipal waste.
- Empty or rinsed containers must be free of any hazardous residue and be marked "empty."
- All sharps must be in an appropriate, puncture-resistant container to prevent injuries.
- If a material can be mistaken as a hazardous, radioactive, or biological waste, but is not, it must be identified as non-hazardous.
Building Services will dispose of glass if it is cleaned of any hazardous materials and is properly packaged. The total weight must not exceed 40 pounds and the container must be able to be easily and safely handled by Building Services personnel.
For all other types of waste, make sure the container is appropriately labeled and separated from municipal waste:
Hazardous waste - manage hazardous wastes in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Management and Disposal Policy and Procedures manual. This type of waste may only be removed by Environmental Health and Safety personnel.
Radioactive waste - manage radioactive wastes in accordance with the Radiation Safety Manual. This type of waste may only be removed by Environmental Health and Safety personnel.
Biological waste - manage biological wastes in accordance with the Biohazardous Waste and Sharps Disposal policy.
Sharps - At U of I a "sharp" is defined as any object which could readily puncture or cut the skin of an individual, including, but not limited to:
- Needles, syringes, knives, razor blades, lancets, capillary tubes, metal shavings, etc.
- Glass or plastic pipettes and pipette tips
- Any broken glass, glass slides, cover slips, plastic, metal, pottery with sharp edges, etc.
- Anything that could puncture through a garbage bag causing the bag to rupture and spill, or risking injury and exposure to personnel.
Refer to EHS Guidance Document "Sharps and Pipette Tips Disposal" and the "Sharps Disposal Flow Chart" for more information.