Content that belongs in Safety in Laboratories section (safety/lab)

General Laboratory Ventilation

Laboratory ventilation involves the use of supply and exhaust ventilation to control emissions, exposures, and chemical and biological hazards. A general lab ventilation system is designed to dilute and remove contaminants through general exhaust; provide make-up or replacement air, provide heating, cooling, and humidification; and provide local exhaust for specific activities. General ventilation does not eliminate exposure. Local exhaust is the preferred method for controlling exposures.

High and Low Pressure and Temperature Systems

Working with hazardous materials at high and low pressures and temperatures comes with inherent risks and requires planning and special precautions. When experiments have both temperature and pressure extremes, both hazards must be managed simultaneously. Controls must be in place to safeguard from explosions and implosions, which may include appropriate equipment selection, careful planning, and use of safety shields. The proper selection of glassware that can withstand thermal expansion and contraction is imperative.

Water-cooled Equipment

It is common for labs to use water as a coolant in condensers and other equipment. There are two main risks of water-cooled equipment:

  1. flooding due to equipment or user malfunction,
  2. equipment failure leads to warming of reaction and possible explosion.

For that reason, please follow the guidelines below.

Local Exhaust & Containment Devices

Research labs typically have a chemical fume hood or a biosafety cabinet as the primary engineering control. However, there are an assortment of task-oriented engineering controls to choose from when deciding which control is safest for the task at hand. Below is a list of other options to consider.

Surplus Lab Equipment

Disposal of Surplus Laboratory Equipment 

Lab equipment must be properly decontaminated before leaving your lab

Lab Decommissioning

Lab Decommissioning Procedure

A laboratory decommissioning occurs when a room which contains a laboratory that uses hazardous materials undergoes: 

Renovating Lab

Renovating A Lab and Installing New Equipment

New researchers and new research are continuously coming into UVM’s laboratories bringing cutting edge equipment, tools and techniques that often ha

Centrifuge Safety

Centrifuges present two potentially serious hazards:

  • Physical hazards: mechanical failure due to mechanical stress, metal fatigue, and corrosion of the rotor over time
  • Exposure hazards: aerosolization of biohazardous, chemical, or radioactive materials


The majority of all centrifuge accidents result from user error. To avoid injury, lab workers should follow the user's manual for the specific unit as well as the information on this page.

Laboratory Freezers

Research freezers and refrigerators are critical to supporting research at UVM. Any loss of temperature control can damage research materials, sometimes delaying or even ending a research project and jeopardizing your research funding.  

Proper use and preventive maintenance is important to keep your unit functioning properly and to protect your research materials.

Preventive Maintenance

Defrosting Your Ultra Low Temperature Freezer

Preparing for Trouble

Laboratory Safety Plan


University of Vermont Laboratory Safety Plan

Purpose & Scope

In order to perform their work in a prudent manner, laboratory personnel must consider the health, physical, and environmental hazards of the chemicals they plan to use in an experiment or procedure. This Laboratory Safety Plan provides tools and guidance to UVM researchers in making these considerations.

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