Spill Clean-Up and Housekeeping

In the event of an emergency all lab workers should be familiar with the following:

  • The location of the nearest emergency equipment (spill kit, emergency eye wash and shower, fire alarm pull station, fire extinguisher, etc), and
  • UVM's Emergency Response Procedures and how to safely respond to a laboratory emergency.

Below are guidelines for keeping your lab clean and properly maintained. It's important to be meticulous and thorough when cleaning and maintaining the laboratory. Even little things that may not seem significant can create a serious hazard, leading to accident or injury.   



Please keep all chemical containers and work surfaces free of any evidence of chemical splashes or residue. This helps prevent accidental exposure to hazardous chemicals. Chemical Spill Kits are provided to labs by Risk Management & Safety (RM&S) and are there for you to use when needed.

Chemical Spill Kit

The Chemical Spill Kit is distributed by RM&S and contains two absorbent gray pads, as well as nitrile gloves, Ziploc bags, waste tags and instructions for use. The kit must be kept full and in clear view at all times, and all laboratory workers must be trained in its proper use. To request a kit please email safety@uvm.edu

There are several things to consider when deciding if a lab worker can handle a chemical spill cleanup themselves:

1.    Their knowledge of the hazards of chemical spilled.

2.    The percentage of the chemical in the solution spilled.

3.    The amount of the chemical spill.

4.    Whether they have been properly trained to clean up the spill

Contact UVM Police at 9-1-1 if immediate assistance is needed.

If immediate assistance is not required, and the laboratory worker does not feel confident in their ability to safely clean up the spill, call UVM Service Operations (SOS) at 6-2560 and press #1 to speak to a dispatcher.  SOS can contact RM&S immediately.

Emergency responders rely on lab workers' knowledge of the hazards present at the spill. Please be available to responders to provide as much information as possible to make the cleanup process go smoothly.

How to Clean-up a Spill

The steps to proper chemical spill clean-up can be found in this video.  Please note the video is approximately 12 minutes in length.  To review a specific spill clean-up procedure, go to:

  • Radiation Spill Clean-up:  3:35
  • Chemical Spill Clean-up:  5:10
  • Biological Spill Clean-up:  6:35

Spill Clean-up Steps:

Small Spills (less than 1 L):

  • Don proper personal protective equipment, including eyewear and gloves.
  • Pick-up any broken glass, and place in a puncture-resistant container for hazardous waste disposal. When possible use mechanical means such as forceps or tweezers to pick-up the glass.
  • Using your laboratory spill kit, place absorbent pads over the spill and allow the material to absorb. Place contaminated spill pads in the container with the broken glass or in a plastic bag.
  • Wash the affected are with a mild soap solution and place any additional materials in the waste container with the broken glass and absorbent pads.
  • Remove disposable gloves and place in the waste container. Seal the waste container and label as hazardous waste. Tag with the white hazardous waste tag.
  • Remove additional protective equipment and thoroughly wash your hands.  Contaminated clothing or PPE may not be taken home nor laundered without additional precautions specified in regulations; contact Risk Management & Safety.

Large Spills (greater than 1 L):

  • Cover spill if possible to keep fumes down.
  • Evacuate the area, closing the lab door behind you. Post a sign on the door stating "DO NOT ENTER - CHEMICAL SPILL" (sign can be found in your Spill Kit).
  • Call Service Operations Support at 802-656-2560 and ask them to notify Risk Management & Safety.


Good daily habits can reduce the risk of exposure or injury in the laboratory.  Some of those good daily habits are outlined below.

Food and Drink

  • NO food or drink may be stored or consumed in the laboratory if hazardous chemicals or infectious agents are present.


  • Food should be consumed in a clean area separated from the laboratory space by walls and doors. Environmental Health and Safety strongly discourages marking off a portion of the laboratory as a “clean area” where food is allowed.


  • Be sure to wash your hands before leaving the lab and before consuming food or drink.



Clutter is an identified fire hazard on campus. It can:

  • Impede egress during an emergency
  • Hamper the ability to react to an emergency
  • Increase the amount of contaminated material in a spill.


Please ensure your labs and work areas are free of clutter at all times.

Trip & Slip Hazards

Nearly half of UVM’s reported injuries involve a slip, trip or fall.  Please follow these guidelines to help prevent injuries: 

  • Wear full-coverage shoes that are appropriate to the work to be performed at all times.
  • Get rid of wet or oily floor surfaces.
  • Keep clutter off the floor.
  • If you must use an extension cord for any length of time, consider having a permanent outlet installed instead by submitting a work order to the Physical Plant Department.



Shared Labs

Shared laboratory spaces are to be kept clean, organized and labeled by users.  Please observe the following guidelines when sharing laboratory space, particularly cold rooms, with others.

  • Clean up contamination and clutter as it occurs.
  • Return all chemicals to their proper storage places.
  • Label all equipment with the Lab Supervisor’s name.
  • Make sure there is a completed Emergency Contact sticker posted outside the door.
  • DO NOT use cold rooms to store food or party supplies such as cakes, vegetable platters, alcohol, flowers or any other food or non-laboratory items.  (Yes, these items have been found in UVM cold rooms.)

Plumbing Drain Traps

When standing water evaporates from a sink drain trap (the u-shaped pipe under a sink), sewer gases may flow up the pipe and into a room.  If a sink is used regularly, this will not be a concern.  If a sink is not frequently used, pour a gallon of water down the drain monthly or when you smell any gases entering the lab.





Can't find what you're looking for?  Contact safety@uvm.edu.