Laboratory safety is a core element in the conduct of high-quality research. The following steps will guide you through UVM's Laboratory Safety Program.
Good Science is Safe Science!

1. Register The Laboratory

Lab Supervisors must register their labs online in SciShield. Enter your personnel roster, critical cell phone numbers and an inventory of the hazards present. Emergency responders will refer to this information during an emergency. Update this information, at a minimum, every 6 months or as hazards or personnel change. Supervisors may designate a Lab Safety Officer (LSO) and set the permissions so that the LSO can maintain the lab registration information.

2. Identify Hazards and Assess & Control Hazards

Hazards in the lab must be identified by the Lab Supervisor (or someone delegated by the supervisor). Everyone working in the lab must understand the hazards of the materials and equipment they will be using. Assess and document how the hazards will be controlled using engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. Tools to help with this documentation include the Chemical Use Planning Form, research-specific protocols, Standard Operating Procedures, and other hazard assessments.

3. Train and Inform

Lab Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that all lab personnel receive appropriate safety training.

Each lab worker must complete appropriate safety training and labn-speecific training if they are using hazardous materials or hazardous equipment. Start by using the Orientation and Training Checklist; keep each checklist in the Lab Safety Notebook. Ensure that  researcher must have the means to control the hazards, and understand emergency procedures. 

4. Maintain the Lab Safety Notebook

Lab Supervisors must create and keep current a Lab Safety Notebook. The Notebook can be audited and should contain safety-related documentation: safety data sheets, lab self-inspection checklist, protocols, lab-specific training documentation.

5. Inspect the Lab Monthly

Lab Supervisors must ensure a monthly lab self-inspection is completed and documented each month. Supervisors may designate others, such as a Lab Safety Officer, to help complete the monthly self-inspection. Lab Safety Officers can delegate different lab personnel to conduct the inspection so that everyone plays a role in keeping the lab safe.

6. Manage Lab Wastes

Environmental Health & Safety manages all laboratory wastes on and off campus. Lab workers must be trained about the different types of lab waste, how each must be collected and how wastes must be labeled. EHS staff is available to meet with labs to help determine how to collect different types and amounts of lab waste. 

Types of laboratory wastes include chemical waste, biological waste, radioactive waste, sharps, and universal waste (e.g. CFLs, batteries, ballasts, electronic waste). Types of non-hazardous waste may include uncontaminated waste and broken glass, lab trash, and recyclable materials.

7. Prepare for Emergencies

Each person in the lab must be trained to respond to an emergency. Plan ahead to help minimize injury to personnel, damage to equipment and facilities, and potential for a release of hazardous materials to the environment.

8. Institute General Lab Safety Practices

Examples of lab safety practices include the following:

  • Keep areas free of clutter and contamination,
  • Eliminate (or substitute less hazardous alternatives) to reduce hazards in the lab,
  • Keep the lab door closed,
  • Shut the fume hood sash when not in use,  and
  • Keep fire extinguishers, emergency showers and eyewashes free from obstructions.

9. Practice Sustainability and Pollution Prevention

Make decisions that support a cleaner, greener world by eliminating or reducing the use of hazardous chemicals and non-renewable energy sources when possible.