Laboratory Safety – the Role of EHS
The purpose of the Laboratory Safety Program is to minimize the risk of injury or illness to laboratory workers by ensuring that they have the training, information and support needed to work safely in the laboratory. EHS develops these resources based on current rules and regulations and assists laboratory workers in applying them as part of the university’s commitment to providing a safe laboratory environment for its faculty, staff, students and visitors.
Laboratory Safety – Your Role
Each laboratory shall complete a Laboratory Safety Plan to complement the Chemical Hygiene Plan. It is the responsibility of all persons working in university laboratories (e.g., principal investigators, administrative personnel, managers, laboratory researchers, and students) to know and adhere to the provisions of both plans. The documents below contain information on the components of the university’s Laboratory Safety Program, including the template for your laboratory-specific Safety Plan. Our Guidance Sheets include SOPs, guidance documents, and hazard alerts applicable to laboratories across campus; check for new and updated sheets regularly.
Laboratory Safety Forms, Checklists and Templates
The university's Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is designed for educational and research activities that use hazardous materials by providing procedures that will ensure the safety of personnel working in laboratories and while handling hazardous materials. The CHP promotes safety in laboratories while enlisting recommendations developed by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Task Force on Laboratory Safety of 2015.
It is the responsibility of all persons working in university laboratories (e.g., principal investigators, administrative personnel, managers, laboratory researchers, and students) to know and adhere to the provisions of the CHP.
The Laboratory Safety Plan Template is provided to help laboratory personnel put together a laboratory safety plan for their individual lab(s). The template is set up in sections that cover such areas as inventory, SDS sheets, standard operating procedures, etc. Each section has text written in black that provides an introductory sentence or statement about each area, followed by text written in red that instructs the laboratory supervisor, who is responsible for the laboratory safety plan, to provide information that is specific to that lab. Note that in the section pertaining to personal protective equipment (PPE), the text written in black describes the minimum PPE that must be worn to enter the laboratory.
Hazard warning signs are required by regulatory agencies and advise individuals who may need to enter an unfamiliar laboratory as to the types of hazards that are present. A laboratory hazard sign will be placed at every main entrance to a laboratory room or complex. The signs are produced by EHS, but it is the responsibility of laboratory personnel to provide information to keep the signs up-to-date.
The Laboratory Hazard Analysis form is designed to help laboratory personnel identify hazards related to a specific laboratory task or procedure and determine the best way to perform the task to eliminate or reduce those hazards. One of the best ways to prevent laboratory accidents and injuries is to complete hazard analyses to establish and document safe procedures and use them as a primary reference when compiling standard operating procedures and training personnel how to accomplish a specific task safely. Laboratory Hazard Analysis is basically the same as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA).
The University of Idaho Laboratory Safety Inspection Checklist is provided to help laboratory supervisors perform a self-audit of their laboratory. Some of the items listed in the checklist may not apply to an individual's laboratory and therefore can be checked as N/A or not applicable.
The University of Idaho Laboratory Decommissioning Checklist is provided to help principal investigators and their departments ensure that hazardous materials have been safely removed from the laboratory and that the area is free of contamination. Events that would require laboratory decommissioning include the termination of a researcher's affiliation with the university, relocation to another laboratory space, major laboratory renovation or retirement from research activities. Some of the items listed in the checklist may not apply to an individual's lab and therefore can be checked as N/A or not applicable.
For eyewash fountains and safety showers to function properly in the event of chemical exposure to eyes or skin, they must be tested regularly. Environmental Health and Safety inspects eyewash fountains and safety showers annually using procedures recommended by the American National Standards Institute. It is important, however, to test and flush this equipment more frequently; tests will reveal plumbing problems, reduce buildup of sediment in the lines, flush out microorganisms that can cause infection and make users more familiar and confident with the operation of the equipment. Eyewash, showers and drench hoses shall be tested weekly by potential users of the equipment. These tests shall be recorded on the Shower and Eyewash Flushing Record, posted next to each piece of equipment, following the Shower and Eyewash Flushing Instructions.
Walk-in cold rooms and freezers play a key role in the university research program, but they can also cause serious problems and safety concerns when they are not maintained properly. These units are extremely important for the storage and protection of temperature sensitive research materials. The Walk-In Cooler Checklist is a tool that personnel can use to help maintain walk-in coolers and freezer units in good working order and to prevent the development of safety hazards and possible damage to the units and/or its contents. Steps need to be taken as soon as possible to correct items on the checklist that are identified to be problematic.