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Environmental Health and Safety

Lab Preparedness

Severe weather and other events like holiday closings cause interruption of normal business operations at the university. Occasionally, the university deems it necessary to declare campus closure, in which case, only essential personnel are required to report to work.  During severe weather, lab personnel are expected to stop general operations and safely store and secure all hazardous materials, equipment and research data to minimize the risk of injury and property losses.  Consider the following questions when preparing to shut down laboratory operations for an extended period of time.


  1. Emergency Plans

  • Have 2-3  "essential personnel" in your laboratory been identified and their tasks clearly defined should there be a need to implement a lab shut down?
  • Does your laboratory have a specific checklist for shutting down operations?
  • Is the information current on the Hazard Information notice posted by the entrance door?
    • Name and contact number for PI
    • Name and contact number for Lab Manager or Group Safety Officer
    • Hazards listed (chemical, biological, radioactive, others)


  1. Hazardous Materials

  • Are containers of chemical, radioactive, and biohazard materials securely capped, properly labeled and safely stored?
  • Are containers of hazardous wastes securely capped, properly labeled, and safely stored?
  • Have chemicals been removed from laboratory benches and open shelves, and stored in appropriate chemical cabinets?
  • Are incompatible chemicals stored separately from one another?
  • Are chemical containers stored above floor level in case of flooding?
  • Are compressed gas cylinders properly secured and stored in an upright position?
  • Do compressed gas cylinders that are not in use have their valve caps tightly secured?
  • Is proper special storage ensured for chemicals that are air-reactive, water-reactive, or temperature sensitive?
  • Are glove boxes sufficiently supplied with required gases to ensure an oxygen-free atmosphere for water and/or air-reactive chemicals stored inside?


  1. Equipment

  • Are critical equipment plugged into an emergency power outlet?
  • Are non-critical equipment safely powered down and unplugged, if possible?
  • If equipment needs to be kept powered, are measures in place to prevent surging?
  • Are equipment stored above floor level in case of flooding?
  • Are equipment covered with protective tarp or plastic sheets?


  1. Experiments

  • For experiments that take more than 24 hours to safely shut down and secure, do you have a shutdown procedure and what are the contingencies?
  • If you are working with animals, have you made arrangements for protective care?
  • Are all components of a critical long-term experiment (power, water, gas, equipment, etc.) secured and sufficient supply ensured to prevent interruption?
  • Are non-critical and high hazard experiments stopped? Are equipment turned off and unplugged? Are gas supplies turned off? Is the main cylinder valve closed?


  1. Research Data

  • Is your intellectual property (lab notebooks, ledgers, CDs, laptops) safely stored and backed up?


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