Eating, drinking, gum chewing, or similar activities within laboratories, where teaching or research involving toxic substances take place, can result in the accidental ingestion of hazardous materials (chemical, biological, and/or radiological). Good laboratory practice, which is supported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), seeks to eliminate this potential route of exposure and these agencies have guidelines which prohibit these activities in areas where hazardous materials are present. In addition, good lab practice incorporates standard laboratory hygiene and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, e.g. eye protection, gloves, ankle length pants, closed toe shoes, and lab coats when actively working with hazardous materials.
Eating, drinking, smoking, or use of tobacco products, the application of cosmetics, the storage of food and beverages or similar activities are not permitted in laboratories or other facilities where hazardous materials are used, handled or stored. Food waste, wrappers, containers, etc. must not be placed in laboratory trash cans as this is considered evidence of food or beverage consumption within the laboratory. Such activities are permitted in a designated area (defined as a room with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door) separated from the laboratory space. If a separate area can only be accessed by going through the laboratory, then only covered food or beverage items may be carried through the laboratory. Travel mugs with lids are appropriate for coffee transport. It is not permissible to eat or drink while passing through the laboratory or research area. Filling or rinsing of beverage or food containers in designated laboratory sinks is allowed only if no other sinks are available, if water in these sinks has been determined to be potable, and if the chosen sink area is not contaminated with hazardous materials. Food or beverage containers may not be stored in the laboratory and washed drinking cups, food containers or eating utensils may not be dried on laboratory drying racks. Refrigerators used for storing food or beverages must be dedicated to food only and should be located outside of the laboratory, and clearly labeled with the words “Food Storage Only, No Hazardous Materials Allowed.” Refrigerators used for storage of research materials must not be used for storage of food or beverages.
This policy applies to all staff, faculty, students and University guests entering University facilities where hazardous materials (chemical, biological and/or radioactive) are used, handled or stored.
In conjunction with Environmental Health & Safety, each college and institute is responsible for identifying laboratories where eating, drinking, and similar activities are prohibited, and for notifying individuals of appropriate areas for such activities.
When planning renovations or new construction, the school, department, division and laboratory principal investigator must provide appropriate areas for eating and drinking which are completely separated from the laboratory. New construction must provide access to eating and drinking areas from another clean space and not from within the laboratory. For renovations, creation of a new or expanded eating and drinking area that can only be accessed from within a laboratory must be reviewed and approved by EH&S, the Institutional Biological Safety Committee (IBC) and the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) prior to renovation. Specific procedures must be developed by each laboratory for the transport of covered food and beverage items through the lab and for use of the laboratory sink. Updated written procedures for this purpose must be maintained in the laboratory and be readily accessible for review and inspection. All individuals with access to the laboratory must be informed of this policy. It is each individual’s responsibility, along with the laboratory principal investigator and division, department and school officials to ensure this policy is enforced. Any divergence from this policy will require written justification and must be approved by the appropriate Dean, Director, or Department head in conjunction with the Director of EH&S.