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People who work in scientific laboratories are exposed to many kinds of hazards. This can be said of most workplaces; in some, the hazards are well recognized and the precautions to be taken are obvious. Laboratories, however, involve a greater variety of possible hazards than do most workplaces, and some of those hazards call for precautions not ordinarily encountered elsewhere. Environmental Health and Safety works in partnership with faculty, researchers, staff and students to promote safe and healthful laboratory environments that will support the University's science and research mission.

Laboratory Close-Out Procedures

Hazardous materials such as chemicals, microorganisms, tissues, and radioactive materials can injure faculty, students, staff, contractors and visitors if handled inappropriately. Proper disposal of hazardous materials is required whenever a responsible individual leaves the University or transfers to a different laboratory. "Responsible individuals" can include, faculty, staff, post-doctoral and graduate students. While the primary responsibility for the proper disposal of all hazardous materials used in laboratories lies with the principal investigator or researcher, the ultimate responsibility for hazardous materials management lies with each department. 

Plan the disposal of hazardous materials carefully. Hazardous materials such as chemicals, microorganisms, tissues and radioactive materials can injure faculty, students, staff, contractors and visitors if handled inappropriately. Any regulatory action or fines resulting from improper management or disposal of hazardous materials will be charged to the responsible department. 

Please consult the Chemical Hygiene Plan and the Hazardous Waste Management Plan for guidance on University procedures regarding the transport and storage of potentially hazardous materials. Coordinate any lab clean out or close out with Environmental Health and Safety.

Laboratory Hazard Signs

Emergency information signs are located outside all laboratories and workshops across the university. These signs describe the types of materials present within the laboratory and workshop. Emergency information signage provides emergency responders with information on how to respond appropriately to an emergency.

Laser Safety

Lasers have become increasingly important research tools in Physics, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Biology and Engineering.

If improperly used or controlled, lasers can produce injuries (including burns, blindness or electrocution) to operators and other persons, including visitors to laboratories, and can cause significant damage to property.

Individual users of all lasers must be adequately trained to ensure full understanding of the safety practices outlined in the University's Laser Safety Policy. 

Radiation Safety

Radiation is the process of emitting energy in the form of waves and particles. Radiation occurs when the particles of an atom undergo a change in position or energy. Matter that contains unstable atoms that frequently undergo such changes are said to be radioactive. 

If you will be using radioactive material in your lab, please contact USI Radiation Safety Officer: 

Kent W. Scheller, Ph.D.
Radiation Safety Officer

Shipping Dangerous Goods

Anyone shipping dangerous goods (such as infectious, biological, chemical or radioactive materials) is required to receive special training. 

Shippers are directly responsible for the correct and legal transport of dangerous goods by surface or air. Anyone who offers advice for transport, transports or handles hazardous materials for transport must be trained. (49 CFR Part 172- Subpart H).

Please contact Environmental Health and Safety to schedule a training date.