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

Laboratory Clearance

A laboratory clearance occurs when a space designated as a UVM lab undergoes one of the following:

  • Renovation,
  • Relocation,
  • Closing, or
  • A change in laboratory supervision.  


This includes equipment rooms, autoclave rooms, cold rooms, etc.

Prior to any construction, lab move, or renovation, hazardous materials and contamination MUST be removed from the area.  

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. A risk assessment should be conducted to determine the proper control.

Renovating A Lab

Renovating A Lab or Installing New Equipment

Lab renovations require the assistance of the following:

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.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Specific Hazards

Certain agents and processes present extreme hazards. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be written for these agents and processes instead of filling out a Chemical Use and Planning Form.  A hazard assessment must be completed in order to properly develop an SOP. Below is information about some high-hazard agents and processes, links to additional information on the hazards, and control measures to reduce your risks.

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