Congratulations on joining the Department! We are excited that you are here and we want to make sure that you have all the safety information that you will need to get started.
Whether you have worked in a laboratory setting before or this is your first time, there are some things you will need to do to meet the safety requirements set forth by the University.
During your first week, while your settling into your new space and getting familiar with the lab, this would be the time to start completing the safety training that will be required. Depending on what research you will be conducting and what you will be working with, will determine the kind of training that is needed. As a guide, here is a list of the hazards that will require training:
Environmental Health and Safety offer in class and online classes that can be completed to meet training requirements. To locate and sign up for a training session go here: EH&S Training
On this website you will also find other training modules with various safety topics for your review.
Your lab may also have specific training protocols for procedures being conducted in your lab, for more information and training on these, inquire with your lab PI.
Personal Protective Equipment
The use of PPE in a laboratory setting is very critical to assure that you are protected while working with chemicals and other hazards. Items such as gloves, safety glasses and lab coats are standard equipment used for this protection. In addition, face shields, insulated gloves, chemical resistant gloves, laser goggles, aprons and booties are other equipment that may be needed depending on the hazards in your area. Safety equipment must be available for all users and is to be supplied by the lab for that use.
As part of the department safety program, a lab coat laundering service has been set up for all labs. As part of this service, lab coats are provided and laundered on a regular basis. Each lab has a set inventory for their areas. Depending on the potential hazards, labs may have poly cotton blend or flame retardant coats. Check with your PI on availability of the coats in your lab.
Safety equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses can be purchased in Chemstores. Any speciality items, such as face shields, aprons, special gloves can be bought by submitting a purchase request to the Purchasing portal.
Emergencies can happen any time, so it is important to be prepared and know what to do if something does happen in your lab or building.
Each lab is required to keep an emergency information card at each door entrance. Information on the cards include contact names and phone numbers for lab personnel. Check with your PI if your name needs to be added to the list.
Familiarize yourself with your lab safety equipment, find out where your fire extinguishers, safety showers and eye wash stations, first aide kits are located. Become familiar with emergency exit routes in your lab and building. Discuss with your PI and group members, the lab emergency evacuation plan, where will everyone meet and who will account for everyone in your lab during an emergency.
For Chemical spills or releases, discuss with your PI what the proper protocol is for handling a spill or chemical release. Find out if there is a spill clean up kit available for you to use. Know who to contact if the spill is too large to handle or if the chemical release becomes dangerous.
If a medical emergency happens and you are trained to administer aide, do not hesitate. If the emergency requires additional assistance and immediate attention, call the service desk 2-5522 or 911 to dispatch medical personnel. Be sure to report all medical emergencies to your PI.
Fire Alarms do happen and it is important that everyone evacuates the building expediently. If you have critical experiments running that need to be put into a safe mode before you leave and can be done quickly, communicate this with your lab members prior to leaving. Have a lab member stay with you during this process and then exit the building to a safe place. If there isn't any time to do this, communicate this concern to the Building Manager in the evacuation area, so it can relayed to Fire personnel. Only re-enter a building once it has been cleared safe to enter by the Fire Department and Building Manager.
Safety is everyone's responsibility and in order to assure that everyone is safe, set standards, rules and guidelines are established to meet this objective.
It is important the everyone understand their role in the bigger picture for compliance and how what they do can impact the University and themselves on a larger scale.
The University is under the oversight of several State and Federal Regulatory agencies to assure compliance with regulations related to Environmental and Occupational Law and Chemical management.
In order to assure compliance, become familiar with all the policies set forth by EH&S that have a direct impact on compliance issues and be sure to follow all policies, procedures and rules set forth by EH&S.
If there is ever any questions with regards to a compliance issue, contact EH&S or the Building Manager first before you act.
Safety Is Your Business
Ultimately, being safe is up to each individual. Forming good safety habits is fundamental in assuring that you stay safe while working in any environment. Having a safety mindset and attitude says that you care about your safety and those around you.
Be proactive when planning your experiments, include safety measures in your protocol. Simple steps such as determining protective equipment to use and reading MSDS's for chemicals prior to use, can help establish a plan of action and mitigate any potential safety issues.
Remember to plan enough time to do your experiment. Most accidents happen when people are in a hurry or attempt to take short cuts.
Pay attention to conditions in your working environment and if you see things that you feel are a safety concern, bring it to your PI's attention.
Lead by example. If you are being safe and put safety as a priority for your lab, others will follow.
Get involved with keeping safety a priority for your lab, from helping the lab proctor, to bringing safety topics up in group meetings or engaging in training classes on the subject.
You can make all the difference in ensuring that you and your colleagues are safe. It is a choice and it is up to each one of us, choose to be a safety champion!
Remember there is always support available to help and guide you in doing the right thing. Contact us if you need assistance.