General Safety Guidelines

Questions to ask when interviewing somebody about general lab guidelines.

  1. What should every lab be equipped with?
  2. What should be included in the general safety training for every lab member?
  3. What general resources should everyone working in a lab be aware of?

Every lab should have the following:

  1. An up-to-date lab card, posted outside the door, using the standard college of engineering form. Download form.
  2. A land-line in a location where it is most useful and most safe to use (ideally a wall-mounted phone). For example, in chemistry labs phones should be by the door. Save the phone land line in you cell, so that you can call it. If you work in a large lab, having two phones, might make sense.
  3. A printed list of emergency phone numbers, posted on the wall, by the phone. Phone numbers should include campus emergency response numbers, as well as lab individuals who should be informed immediately, should something happen in the lab.
  4. A flash-light, should power go out.
  5. A process of training new people who join, and for training refreshers.
  6. Fire extinguisher – EHS will deliver a fire extinguisher for you, if you need one.
  7. A first-aid station that’s kept stocked and is not expired.
  8. The personal-protection equipment (PPE) needed for the hazards in the lab standard,. Some example would be lab coats, goggles, gloves, respirator, shoe covers.
  9. A trash can that’s picked up by custodians, a list of what doesn’t go in the trash can, and an understanding of whether custodians go in the lab, and what they do in the lab when the come in – do they just empty the trash, do they mop floors, do they vacuum? Is it safe for the custodians to have access to the lab?
  10. An understanding of who else has access to the lab, and may come in in the absence of any researchers. For example, there will be periodic inspections of the fire extinguishers, eye wash stations, etc. Are the proper warning signs on the door to warn these people of hazards and access limitations?
  11. Proper warning signs for specific hazards being handled in the lab – signs on the door (to warn those outside the lab), and signs in the lab (to remind those working in the lab). For example, laser labs, will have a laser hazard sign posted on the door. If an experiment is in progress and should not be disturbed, then it might be relevant to have a door sign indicating so.

General lab training should include:

General lab training is not experiment-specific. It’s just the first training/orientation that one should receive before being given access to any lab, and also updated with a relevant frequency. In addition to general lab training, there would be subsequent traning on specific lab hazards, and on the safety of specific equipment and experiments.

  1. List of hazards in the lab – List of experiments and potential danger associated with the experiments in the space that you’ll work in (even if you won’t work in those experiments, you need to be aware of the hazards in the lab in which you’ll be working).
  2. Location of general lab tools and emergency tools – for example, location of first aid kit, flash light, phone etc.
  3. Emergency contacts and emergency procedure. Who do you contact when something goes wrong? What’s the process of documenting and communicating an accident or a near miss.
  4. Save the lab land line, and key group phone numbers in your cell phone.
  5. Be made aware of how to submit a service order to Physical Plant. For example, for fixing of ventilation, water leaks, electrical, gas, floors, walls, windows, doors etc. You can fill in an online form, or call 608-263-3333. (From UW land line: 3-3333.)
  6. Lab rules and policies – for example – can you work by yourself in the lab? can you work in the lab after hours or on the weekends? can you wear headphones in the lab?
  7. Lab policy for discussing questions and concerns. If you need a fresh set of eyes, or an additional point of view, remember that in addition to your research group, all of the faculty in the department can serve as additional resources.
  8. Lab policy for door locking. When should the door be locked? When should it be unlocked?
  9. Labeling and signage – how should you label things? Remember, at a minimum, to write down your name and date on the equipment, parts and materials that you use. Known hazards are easier to handle than unknown hazards. Also, two decades after you leave the lab, you don’t want students wondering what the mysterious object in the middle of the room is, and whether it can be thrown out.
  10. A list of responsibilities, as a lab user. (not all inclusive, but some general principles that are important for the group).

Responsibilities as a lab user [It is your RESPONSIBILITY to learn the safe way to handle, use and store the products]:

  1. Get Trained for
    • Access to the lab
    • Using equipment
    • Handling materials
    • See the trainings that are related to your lab group here.
  2. Read and adhere to the lab safety rules and procedures. Follow directions.
  3. Report, communicate and share (Faculty, Lab managers, and researchers)
  4. Emergency response

Responsibilities as a lab manager:

      1. To be defined for each lab and communicated to the users.
      2. Leadership engagement and mentorship are important for establishing the laboratory safety culture.

Related Pages

[This page was generated by the attendees of the Spring 2017 EP Safety Seminar attendees. Authors: Raluca Scarlat, Huali Wu, 2017-02-02]