Lab Safety & Compliance: Is Your Back to School Checklist Complete?

back-to-school-ehs-prepAre your labs ready for students to come back from summer break? Your EH&S program should be ready to help you minimize liability, keep people safe, reduce your cost of managing waste, stay compliant, and protect your school's reputation and brand. That's a lot to think about with school right around the corner.

Before students start unpacking and your labs are once again filled with people, there are a few things you need to do to assure the labs are ready, safe and compliant.

1. Train Employees

OSHA records researchers in academic labs as being eleven times more likely to get hurt than their industrial lab counterparts. It's important that employees go through a refresher course on lab safety, procedures, and emergency plans to avoid this.

Some pre school year trainings that are abolsutely necessary include lab awareness training for teaching assistants and RCRA training for MAA inspectors. Also, if you haven't already done so, now is the time to set up a training strategy for the rest of the year. To keep training fresh in the minds of your employees, set up automatic update emails and refresher courses throughout the school year. 

2. Assess Inventory and Clean Out Your Labs

This is important to ensure you don’t have any chemicals that expired over the summer and allows for an accurate inventory to start the year. This will not only assure safety and compliance, but also give you a better idea of what you need to buy to have a complete stock of chemicals.

Doing this while students are off campus and there aren't as many employees on the grounds will allow you the time to properly dispose of expired hazardous chemicals and decontaminate your labs. It's recommended that all surfaces, systems, piping, ventilation and ducts that came in contact with hazardous materials be cleaned by a certified professional before the new semester starts.

3. Audit for Safety and Compliance

The safety of your students is of the utmost importance. Make sure everything is optimized for safety and compliance with a full site audit. By auditing for compliance prior to the start of the school year, you will also know that your site is operating completely in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations.

4. Inspect Safety Equipment and Fume Hoods

It’s important to make sure that equipment that hasn’t been used in several months is safe, clean, and working properly. A free site walk will assure you that there won’t be any surprises when students begin using it. Your eyewash and shower stations especially should be carefully inspected. By doing this all prior to the start of the school year, you can identify and schedule out routine maintenance that will be needed in all your labs. (Here are some best practices for managing eyewash and safety showers.)

Want more information about preparing your labs for the new school year? Check out a complete library of our resources!