Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

Chapter 6: Laboratory work requiring prior approval

Prior to conducting any work in the laboratory, the Principle Investigator or laboratory supervisor must review the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure with the lab worker. Some specific research areas also require additional prior review and approval. Depending on the activity the approval may be required by the PI, a review board or EHS personnel.

6.1 Special provisions for particularly hazardous substances

MIOSHA mandates special provisions for handling particularly hazardous substances. A lab worker using one of these substances listed below for the first time is required to get prior approval from the PI.

6.2 Hazardous procedures

Hazardous procedures involving radioactive or biohazardous materials, recombinant DNA, humans, or animals, require prior University or external approval. Consult with the appropriate Review Board before proceeding with these experiments.

6.3 Hazardous Waste

Generation of wastes with the following characteristics: large volumes (more than 5 gallons per project), wastes with mixed hazards (chemical, radioactive, biological), and projects that will result in leftover, unused acutely hazardous waste (those designated as a “P” listed waste in table 205a in the EPA hazardous waste listing). Consult with EHS in advance of doing these experiments or purchasing these reagents so that proper waste disposal methods may be devised and written into the SOP.

6.4 Working Alone

Working alone in a laboratory can be dangerous and should generally be avoided. If working alone on nonhazardous tasks workers must set up a check in/check out notification system with workers in other labs or another responsible adult that knows how to activate emergency contacts if the worker fails to check out.

Before working alone with hazardous chemicals or, performing other hazardous activities that require an SOP, a hazard analysis for working alone must be conducted and incorporated into the SOP. The updated SOP may: indicate that the procedure cannot be conducted safely by a lone worker; limit or specify the time of day when the work may be conducted; define additional check in/check out procedures or implement new emergency signaling requirements.

6.5 Unattended operations

Unattended laboratory operations involving hazardous substances should be avoided if possible. When experiments must run continuously or overnight with no one present, prior planning and arrangements must be made to prevent the unintended release of hazardous materials. For example, planning should include contingencies for interruption of electricity, cooling water, and/or the flow of inert gas. Additional precautions should include posting the emergency contact information for the responsible individual as well as signs that identify the nature of the experiment and the hazardous substances in use. If appropriate, arrangements should be made for other workers to periodically inspect the operation.

Chapter 7