General Lab Safety

Even though the lab safety inspection process is driven by the storage/handling of hazardous materials, general lab safety would apply to all research areas regardless of whether hazardous materials are present or not.  If there are no hazardous materials present in any of the research areas, EH&S would still inspect the lab based on general lab safety criteria.

NFPA Door Diamond

  • National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) gives an overview of the key chemical hazards contained within a room.
    • NFPA door placard should only be posted on doors connected to the main corridors of the building
  • Ceiling clearance is a fire safety regulation in which nothing can be stored within this space.
    • 18 inch clearance for labs with sprinklers
      • The clearance is to ensure the sprinklers work at maximum efficiency for extinguishing a fire
    • 24 inch clearance for labs without sprinklers
      • The clearance is to mitigate a fire from spreading upward and prevent the ceiling from catching on fire
  • Fire extinguisher should be present in all laboratories working with combustible or flammable chemicals.  Lab personnel should be familiar with the location, use and classification of the extinguishers in the lab.

Fire Extinguisher Use & Training

  • Call the EH&S Fire at 310-825-5689 whenever a fire extinguisher is discharged
  • Routes of egress should be communicated to everyone in the lab area.  If there is an emergency that requires everyone to evacuate the lab, the routes of egress should be accessible for personnel to exit the building in a timely manner.
    • There should be at least a 36 inch wide clearance for pathways throughout the lab environment
    • Doors leading out to the main corridors of the building cannot be blocked
    • Identify at least two routes to evacuate the building from your lab space
  • Emergency Shower and Eyewash Station
    • All laboratories using hazardous chemicals must have immediate access to the safety showers and eyewash stations.
      • Must be accessible within 10 seconds or less and no more than one door of obstruction between the worker and the shower/eyewash station
      • No items may be stored within the clearance area of the shower or around the eyewash stations
        • Safety showers must have a minimum clearance of 16 inches from the centerline in all directions
      • Keg eyewash stations are only acceptable as a temporary solution and not intended to replace a plumbed eyewash station
    • Emergency Shower and Eyewash Station Operation
      • Rinse chemically exposed areas for at least 15 minutes
        • Remove contaminated clothing to ensure full decontamination
      • Tested by Facilities Management on a month basis
        • Place a Trouble Call with Facilities 310-825-9236 testing date missed for the month
  • First Aid Kit and Spill Kit should be accessible in the immediate lab area and only used to treat minor injuries. For labs located on different floors/building, there should be another first aid kit and spill kit accessible in the immediate area. Lab groups situated in the same lab space may share the same first aid kit and spill kit pending an agreement between all the PIs sharing the lab space.
    • First aid kit should contain the following:
      • Bandages/gauze
      • Sanitation wipes
      • Calcium Gluconate cream (only for labs with Hydrofluoric Acid)
      • Optional: burn cream, pain medication, scissors, gloves
        • Check expiration dates and dispose of expired first aid items
    • Spill kit should contain the following:
      • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
        • Chemical splash goggles
        • Gloves
      • Neutralizers for corrosives (only if corrosives present in the lab)
        • Super Sorbent is a commercial product that may be used to neutralize as well as absorb spilled liquids
      • Absorbent materials
        • Absorbent pads, sand, vermiculite and/or kitty litter
        • Absorbent sock to contain the spill
      • Clear, plastic bags for dry hazardous waste generated
  • Seismic anchoring is an important component of risk assessment in the laboratory to mitigate equipment/items from falling on lab personnel and causing a serious injury.
    • Seismically anchor equipment/items standing 5 feet or taller from the ground
      • Examples: Biosafety cabinets, stacked incubators, storage racks, filing cabinets
    • Equipment/items on benchtops standing 6 feet or taller from the ground need to be anchored
      • Examples: Ovens, incubators, equipment, lab instruments
    • If the equipment/item could fall and seriously injure someone working in the immediate area, EH&S may require it to be seismically anchored
  • Compressed gas cylinders are commonly found in the lab and could to lead to a serious incident if not handled/stored properly.  Not only is the high pressure contained within the cylinder a safety concern, but the hazard(s) associated with the gas also adds to that as well.
    • Guidelines for Safe Handling/Storage of Compressed Gas Cylinders:
      • Cylinders must be stored upright, and either chained to the wall, chained in a cylinder storage rack, or a cylinder stand anchored to the ground
        • Cylinders must be restrained by two-sets of metal chains; 1/3 from the top and 1/3 from the bottom
        • For wall storage, no more than three cylinders may be chained together
        • Cylinder gas stands may be used in instances where single gas cylinders must be stored or handled away from the wall
      • Compress gas cylinders must be stored with the safety cap in place when not actively in-use
      • Compressed flammable gas cylinders must use only flame-resistant gas lines to transport the gas from the cylinder and must have all connections leak tested
        • ¼ inch stainless steel tubing must be used for the connection lines
        • Compressed oxygen gas cylinders must be stored at least 20 feet away from compressed flammable gas cylinders
  • Storage of items on a shelf plays an important role with maintaining safety in the lab.  Depending on the items, the items could increase the likelihood of an incident occurring based on how and where these are stored on the shelf.
    • Storage shelves must have seismic restraints
      • Examples: lips, bars, bungee cords
      • Refrain from stacking items where seismic restraints are not being utilized properly
    • Heavy items should be stored on lower shelves

Electricla Hazards to be aware of in the lab.

  • Power Strips
    • Plug directly into the wall, not into an extension cord or another power strip (daisy-chaining)
    • Secure the power strip off the ground, away from liquids
  • Extension Cords
    • Only to be used on a temporary basis and should not pose a trip hazard
    • No cords should go under doorways, carpets through ceilings
  • Repairing Equipment
    • Equipment with frayed wiring should be taken out of service to be repaired by a vendor/lab personnel or disposed of as electronic waste
      • Lockout/Tagout should be employed when making repairs to electrical equipment
      • Machine guards should be put back in-place before allowing the electrical equipment back into service
  • Electrical Panel
    • Should be accessible at all times with nothing stored in front, around or on the panel
  • No food or drinks may be present or consumed in a laboratory in which hazardous materials are stored/handled
    • Strictly prohibited in areas where radioactive and biological materials are handled/stored
    • Do not chew gum or apply cosmetics in areas where laboratory chemicals are present
    • Wash areas of exposed skin before leaving the laboratory
  • Freezers and refrigerators are common pieces of equipment found in almost every laboratory space, and require the lab’s attention to ensure longevity of the equipment
    • Laboratory refrigerators and freezers must be labeled with “No Food or Drink” and “No Flammables”
      • Approved flammable-rated freezers and refrigerators will have regulatory signage allowing the storage of flammable materials
    • Defrost freezers periodically so items do not become trapped in ice formations
    • Having too many freezers and refrigerators in the same area will increase the temperature and leading to more stress on the motor causing them to break down faster
  • Laboratory organization is not a regulatory requirement but it does help to mitigate incidents from occurring within the lab environment
    • Suitable working space for lab personnel to work on the bench top comfortably
    • Store all chemicals in a designated area of the lab
      • Helps keep track of chemicals and maintain an accurate chemical inventory
    • Minimize glassware in the sink to allow accessibility for lab personnel
    • Floor storage of chemicals in glass containers should be in secondary containment
    • Vacuum pumps with oil need to be stored in a secondary containment
  • Non-Hazardous waste refers to waste free of contamination from hazardous materials.
    • Non-Hazardous sharps should be disposed of in a suitable sharps container utilizing the following guidelines:
      • Sharps container should be hard-walled, puncture proof with a snap or twist top mechanism
      • Biohazard sharps containers may be used as long as the container color is not red and the biohazard labeling is completely covered or removed
      • Dispose of the sharps container when it’s ¾ full
        • The hazardous waste tag should be affixed to the non-hazardous sharps container prior to disposing of it as hazardous waste
        • If the lab has access to the Medical Waste Accumulation area, the lab may dispose of the non-hazardous sharps here as well
    • Broken glass disposal containers are used only for disposing of non-hazardous glass waste
      • [Insert link to fact sheet – Box Document]
    • Labs Off-Master key are identified as spaces containing sensitive materials and restricts access to everyone except lab personnel.  Since Facilities workers cannot access Off-Master spaces on their own, it’s the responsibility of the lab to coordinate with Facilities in order for them to access the area.
      • Per UCLA Policy 825, the department will arrange for all custodial work in Off-Master spaces through the use of a Facilities Service Request (FSR)
        • Leaving waste bins in the main corridors is a fire code violation
        • If the lab is On-Master and the waste for the lab is not being picked up, it may be due to the waste bin not being visible in the lab
  • UCLA Policy 905 pertains to the personal safety of researchers working in a lab environment and requires the usage of PPE when handling hazardous materials. Policy 905 applies to everyone stepping foot inside the lab and details the following:
    • Everyone inside the lab environment must be wearing lab-appropriate attire:
      • Full-length pants or its equivalence
      • Closed-toe shoes
      • No skin exposed around the foot, ankle and/or leg area
    • If you are working with hazardous materials or situated next to someone handling hazardous materials, the appropriate PPE must be donned
      • Lab coat
      • Eye protection
      • Gloves
    • [Insert PPE Selection Guide – Box Document]