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Labortory Safety Program

Laboratory Self-Inspection Checklist

Under California law (OSHA), supervisors (PIs) are required to: "… include procedures for identifying and evaluating work place hazards including scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices." Also, both SB County Fire and the CA State Fire Marshal expect that labs do regular inspections and corrections of safety problems.

Accordingly, lab supervisors (PIs) and departments are responsible for performing regular safety inspections using the checklist below, or equivalent. EH&S will audit the department’s program on an annual basis with it’s own lab visit.

This is not a list of every possible hazard, but can be utilized as a guide to conduct your own safety surveys. The items listed are based on applicable regulations, codes or campus policy. Note that radioactive and biohazard usage issues are not addressed here because they are highly specialized and these labs receive targeted EH&S inspections. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer or Biosafety Officer for more information.

Laboratory Equipment

Are the eyewash and emergency shower stations tested quarterly by Facilities and free of any obstructions which would prevent ready access? Labs should run their eye wash units monthly to assure that the water lines are kept clean.

Have fume hoods been EH&S tested within the year (check sticker)?  Is air flow indicator present and operational? Is storage within the hood minimized? Are air entry slots at back of hood kept clear of obstructions? Is the front sash lowered to the appropriate level when hood is in use?

Are biological safety cabinets certified annually or when moved (check sticker) and are they the proper types for the work being conducted?

Do labs using non-ionizing radiation equipment, such as lasers, microwaves, and ultraviolet light sources, have properly posted warning signs and shielded work areas?

Compressed gas cylinders.
- Are cylinders dated upon arrival and contents clearly identified?
- Inspect regularly for defects, i.e., excessive rust, dents, bulging, corrosion, etc.
- Unidentified cylinders should be marked, "CONTENTS UNKNOWN" and returned to the manufacturer.
- Non-lecture bottles > 5 years old must be returned to the manufacturer to ensure they are safety/pressure tested as required by law ("hydostatic testing") Check stamped date on cylinder when it was last tested.
-Corrosive gases (e.g. HF, HBr, HCl, H2S) can degrade the cylinder over time and/or produce dangerously high pressures of hydrogen. Dispose of within 2 years.
-Are cylinders secured upright with welded chains and brackets bolted to a wall, bench or other secure object
(no C-clamps)?
- Are protective caps in place while cylinders are not in use?
- Use of large cylinders of highly toxic gases must be reviewed/approved (contact EH&S, x-4899)

-Flammable gases (e.g. hydrogen, methane) tubing should be equipped with a flash arrestor to prevent flame flashback to cylinder. Available from gas vendors.

-Gas cabinets with toxic or flammable gas delivery manifolds often have an excessive flow detection and auto-shutoff valve built-in. Verify that this safety feature is functional.

Are toxic gases being used with the required controls? (contact EH&S)

-Highly toxic gas cylinders should be equipped with a reduced flow orifice (RFO) connection to prevent rapid discharge of cylinder contents. Available from gas vendors.

Are refrigerators for storing flammables clearly posted with signage indicating they are safe for such storage? (e.g. “desparked”, “lab-safe”, “explosion-proof”, “flammable storage”).
- Are refrigerators that are NOT designed for flammables storage clearly marked as such? (this is very important to prevent a potential explosion)
- Are all chemical storage refrigerators marked with “No Food” labels?
- Refrigerators in labs utilized for food or drinks should be marked “Food Only/No Chemicals?”


Is the location of manuals /instructions for each piece of equipment known?

Are the belt guards in place on all pumps, etc?

Flow and Pressure Controls:

Cooling Water Systems - for hot processes that demand a constant flow of cooling water, particularly those that are left unattended, (e.g. solvent stills) it is important to have a flow monitoring device in place. These devices are programmed to shut-off electrical power when the cooling water flow is insufficient. These are commercially-available and currently available at the Chemistry Dept. Electronics Shop.

Pressurized Systems - Inspect and test all high pressure vessels regularly per the owners manual requirements. Each vessel should have a use-log of: experiment conditions, dates of runs, testing/maintenance history, etc. in order to track the vessel's life-expectancy. Pressure vessels must include a functional over-pressurization rupture disk to prevent a catastrophic vessel failure.

Seismic Safety

Do shelves used for chemical storage have seismic restraining devices (e.g. lip, wire or bungee cord) installed to prevent chemicals from falling? Is all valuable or hazardous equipment seismically anchored?

Are cabinets, chemical shelves and furniture over 42 inches in height braced against walls to prevent their falling over in the event of an earthquake?

Is overhead storage of heavy objects minimized and restrained?

Electrical Safety

Are employees instructed not to use extension cords in place of permanent wiring?

Are extension cords prevented from running through walls, ceiling or doors?

Are extension cords, multiple outlet strips, or cube taps plugged directly into a wall outlet?

Are extension cords 12' or less in length, 14-gauge (heavy duty) at a minimum, and servicing only one appliance or fixture?

Are cord guards provided across an aisle or other passageway to prevent tripping?

Is electrical equipment inspected for frayed cords and damaged connections?

Is all electrical equipment grounded (three-prong plugs) or double insulated?

Are 3-prong plugs only used for 3-prong receptacles, and never altered to fit into an outlet?

Are all electrical boxes, panels and receptacles covered to protect against electrocution or shock?

Is the multiple outlet strip cord 6' or less, and does the strip have a circuit breaker?

Are control switches, circuit breakers and electrical panels free of obstructions?

Are high voltage control panels and access doors posted?

Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in place where electrical outlets are in use within 6 feet of water?

Hazardous Materials

Is your lab’s legally-required (Cal-OSHA) Lab-specific Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) completed and shared with all workers? Does your CHP address your use of OSHA Particularly Hazardous Substances (human carcinogens, acute toxins and reproductive toxins)?

Are Cal-OSHA regulated carcinogens such as formaldehyde/formalin, dichloromethane and benzene always used in a fume hood and with appropriate gloves/eyewear?

Are chemical containers properly labeled with chemical name and hazard of the material? (e.g., repackaged materials and lab-synthesized materials)

Are stored chemicals segregated according to hazard classification/compatibility (acids, bases, flammables, oxidizers, water reactives, etc.)? Chemical Storage

Are all containers of peroxide-forming chemicals (e.g., ethers) dated upon receipt and disposed of within the prescribed time period? Peroxides can be explosively unstable.

Are flammable liquids stored in closed metal safety cans or flammable storage cabinets whenever possible?

Are flammable liquids always stored in flammable cabinets when in excess of 10 gallons?

Do you have large volumes of flammable solvents (e.g., multiple cases or drums) in storage that are above what is reasonably needed? The quantities of flammables that can legally be stored are regulated by CA Fire Code. Please don't stockpile large quantities of these materials.

Are flammable liquids stored away from sources of heat, ignition, electrical equipment or sources of static electricity?

Static Electricity - Electrically ground all containers/equipment involved in pumping flammable liquids to prevent buildup of static electricity as an ignition source.

Are solvent stills clearly labeled with the solvent name and drying reagent?

Are acid volumes greater than 10 gal. stored in an approved storage cabinet?

Is there a catch pan beneath manometers, barometers, etc. which contain large quantities of mercury?

It is highly recommended chemical spill cleanup materials be available. Are all lab workers familiar with the location of spill cleanup kits? Note: all new lab buildings have a designated “spill closet” – generally keyed to graduate master key.

Hazardous Waste

Are personnel generating chemical waste trained? To become certified in campus hazardous waste disposal procedures visit our short Online Hazardous Waste Course* (EH09)
(*This course meets the waste management training requirements enforced by Santa Barbara County Fire Department inspections.)

Is the illegal disposal of hazardous substances down the drain prevented?

Is there a supply of UCSB waste labels handy (available in all campus storerooms)?

Are all hazardous waste containers labeled with the official UCSB Hazardous Waste label?

Are Hazardous labels going on containers when the first drop of waste goes into the container?

Are all constituents in mixtures identified, as well as their concentrations? Do not use generic names like “Waste or Organic waste” use proper chemical name(s).

Is there a designated area for storage of hazardous waste and labeled as such?

Are chemically incompatible wastes segregated?

Is liquid waste stored in screwtop containers?

Are lab personnel instructed not to dispose of chemicals by fume hood evaporation? Ensure caps remain on containers when not in use.

Are chemical wastes disposed of within 9 months of their accumulation, regardless how much material is left inside the container?

Are all "sharps" (syringes, razor blades, etc.) disposed in puncture resistant, leak-resistant containers and sealed tightly to preclude loss of contents? Dispose containers before they become full.

Is there a designated glass disposal container in the lab?

Is infectious waste decontaminated before disposal?

General Safety Concerns

Has EH&S posted outside the lab an emergency information sign, indicating the hazards within, responsible persons and phone numbers? Call EH&S to update.

Has an emergency information sign with phone numbers for fire, police, medical, EH&S, etc. been posted? Available from EH&S and on the backcover of the campus lab safety manual.

Is the level of housekeeping in the lab satisfactory?
- No hazardous materials stored on floor
- Aisles and corridors kept clear
- Lack of clutter

Are rooms containing regulated hazardous substances, such as infectious and radioactive materials, posted with warning/caution signs and appropriate authorizations?

Are aisles free of obstructions in case of emergency? Minimum clearance for laboratory aisles is 2 ft.

Do work areas have adequate ventilation and illumination? To prevent suffocation, verify that fresh air is supplied to cold/hot rooms that are used as work areas. Check emergency door release and alarm mechanisms.

Are fire extinguishers functional? (plastic seal and metal pin intact and dry powder units show pressure ) - if not call EH&S. Are the extinguishers located on their wall hooks? Is the area in front of the extinguishers accessible?

Are food and beverages kept out of chemical work areas and out of laboratory refrigerators?

Is the appropriate personal protective equipment required for the lab available, in good condition and used?

Have all respirator users been certified through the UCSB Respiratory Protection Program as run by EH&S?  Is the level of housekeeping in the lab satisfactory? No hazardous materials stored on floor. Aisles and corridors kept clear. Lack of clutter.

Lab doors are fire-rated and therefore can not be propped open with a wedge or other device. Discontinue use of these, or SB County Fire may confiscate them and cite the University.

Secure your highly hazardous materials, e.g. highly toxic gas, radiation, select biological agents. Ensure the lab door(s), freezers, refrigerators, storage cabinets, etc. with these materials are locked whenever the lab is left unattended.

Administrative (Note: these requirements must be met by supervisors to satisfy their personal regulatory obligations and reduce their liability)

All lab workers are required to complete the UCSB Lab Safety Orientation to satisfy numerous regulatory training requirements. Verify everyone has attended either the live class for grad students & staff (LS01), or completed the appropriate online course for undergrads and postdocs (LS04). Visit our training history link to view personnel that have completed the course.

Are safety training records generated from the class (Lab Safety Training Checklist) maintained and available for review by employees, EH&S and outside agencies?

Are all employees aware of:

How to access Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)?

The Emergency Assembly Point for your building?

The location of the nearest fire alarm pull station?

The three basic types of fire extinguishers and their applicability?

The location/availability of first aid kits within the building?

The location/purpose of your building’s Safety Corner bulletin board?

The identity of your Department Safety Rep?

The availability/purpose of the UCSB Hazard Reporting Form?

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Last Modified February 11, 2008