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Laboratory Safety

Lab Safety

The term laboratory safety is rather broad, encompassing all aspects of compliance ranging from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) worker safety standards to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations for management of hazardous waste, as well as mandates by grant-issuing agencies and institutional mandates. Proper laboratory safety procedures reduce the risk of illnesses or injuries and allow for compliance with regulatory mandates. At Hunter College, lab safety is an ongoing effort which begins with mandatory Laboratory Safety and Hazard Communication (Right-to-Know) trainig. There are other training programs such as Bloodborne Pathogens, which is required for individuals working with potentially infectious body fluids, Radiation Safety training for personnel working with radionuclides or radiation producing equipment, and Laser Safey training.

Fire Safety

  • Be sure that your laboratory is equipped with fire extinguishers that are appropriate for the hazards in your lab.
  • Know the evacuation routes, and practice evacuation procedures.
  • Do not let combustible materials accumulate in your lab.
  • Do not store flammable substances in non-explosion proof refrigerators.
  • Keep to a minimum the amount of flammable substances atored in your laboratory.
  • Have emergency numbers posted near your lab telephone.

Personal Protection

  • Use engineering controls, such as fume hoods and biosafety cabinets, to minimize exposure.
  • Ensure that your fume hood is functioning properly before using it.
  • Make sure that the personal protective equipment you are using is suitable to protect you against of hazards encountered during your work.

Safety Equipment

  • Test once a month your eyewash stations and, when possible, safety showers. The offices of EHS and Facilities will certify and tag this equipment annually.
  • Maintain access to safety showers and eyewashe stations unobstructed at all times.

Safety & Hygiene

  • Do not eat, drink or store food in laboratory work areas.
  • Never store food or drinks in chemical or biological refrigerators or freezers.
  • Do not wear shorts or open shoes in your lab.
  • Do not wear gloves outside the laboratory work area.

Care & Use of Drains

  • Never dispose of chemicals by pouring them down the drain.
  • Occasionally allow your floor, bench, hood, and sink drains to fill with water. This practice maintains proper functioning of drain traps and prevents odors from getting into your laboratory.

Chemical Storage

  • Maintain a current inventory of the chemicals in your lab.
  • Keep all chemical stock to a minimum. As a general rule, no more than one week’s supply of carcinogens and other highly toxic materials should be stored in the laboratory.
  • Store stock chemicals according to their hazard class and compatibility.
  • Do not store chemicals in alphabetical orders unless chemical compatibility is ensured.
  • Store chemicals according to their compatibility and avoid storing chemicals, especially corrosive liquids, above eye level.
  • Do not store chemicals next to or above sinks. Keep all containers, especially those that are not in intended for immediate use, closed.
  • Remove chemical containers that are leaking, degrading, rusting, or expired.

Chemical Waste

  • Designate an area of your lab for management of chemical waste, and label it the Hazardous Waste Accumulation Area (HWAA).
  • Place waste containers inside a secondary-containment (spill) tray.
  • Separate all incompatible wastes.
  • Label every waste container with a sticker that includes the words "Hazardous Waste", the name of the chemical (no chemical formulas), and your lab number.
  • Record as much information as possible on the hazardous waste label. ndicate the hazards associated with the waste.
  • Keep containers closed and away from sinks at all times.

Housekeeping & Laboratory Spills

  • Keep your lab clean!
  • Do not use laboratory aisles or fume hoods to store chemicals.
  • Remove all tripping hazards from the floor.
  • Know the location of the spill control kit for your floor/laboratory, and clean all spills immediately.
  • Make sure the appropriate spill kits are available for the chemical and biological hazards encountered in your lab.
  • Remember that custodians are not allowed to clean chemical or biomedical spills.

Lecture Bottles & Compressed Gases

  • Keep all compressed gas cylinders upright and secured.
  • Do not accept gas cylinders which have an expired hydrostatic pressure test date on it.
  • Triple rinse chemical containers and label them with the "Triple Rinsed" sticker before proceding to discard them.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Equipment Disposal

  • Call the Facilities Department for removal and disposal of large equipment and furniture.
  • Decontaminate all equipment before it is serviced and before its disposal.

Lab Permits

  • Ensure that as a minimum one person who is certified by the FDNY as a lab operator (C-14 Certificate of Fitness) is present when the lab is in operation.
  • Keep your laboratory and personal permits up to date.