Laboratory Safety

 

Be aware of biosafety precautions and occupational procedures when performing laboratory work involving potentially hazardous biological materials:

American Biological Safety Association

CDC: Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories

CDC: Select Agents and Toxins

Texas Department of State Health Services

Recognizing Tasks and Activities Involving Exposure to Blood

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) defines occupational exposure to blood as “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee’s duties.” This definition excludes exposures that are not reasonably expected nor a required part of your normal job. Ask your supervisor or contact us if you’re unsure whether an activity involves exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.

Potentially Infectious Materials

These OSHA-regulated infectious materials require careful management and control:

  • Human blood, blood components, and blood products
  • Semen or vaginal secretions
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Synovial, pleural, peritoneal, or amniotic fluids
  • Saliva in dental procedures (frequently contains blood)
  • Any body fluid visibly contaminated with blood

  • All body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids
  • Any unfixed tissue or organs (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead)
  • HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions
  • Blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV
Bloodborne Pathogens Training

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR § 1910.1030) requires all employees who work with potentially infectious materials to attend annual bloodborne pathogens training. EH&S offers initial training and an annual refresher class on bloodborne pathogens. These classes provide information on exposure to biological agents, the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to wear, proper biological waste disposal, and what to do in the event of an emergency.

In 1995 the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that, in accord with 6 HS § 481.002, subdivisions (51), (53), (77), and (80), establishes procedures for maintaining controlled substances (addressed in UTDPP1041), controlled substance analogs, chemical precursors, and chemical laboratory apparatus used in educational or research activities at institutions of higher education. The objective of this MOU is to heighten the awareness regarding the potential problem of the diversion of laboratory chemicals and apparatus to illegal drug operations. The list includes many common pieces of laboratory equipment, in addition to possible precursors for the manufacture of illicit drugs.

This MOU, which was signed by the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, commits the University to establishing procedures that specify:

  • Personal responsibility for secure use of controlled items.
  • Record-keeping requirements for purchases.
  • Procedures for disposal of unused controlled items.
  • Security procedures governing use of the controlled items.
  • A liaison between the University and DPS.

In accordance with 21 CFR §1301.11, UT Dallas requires everyone conducting activities with controlled substances to be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and comply with state and federal regulations regarding the acquisition, storage, use, and disposal of those substances. Once registered, you cannot allow your permit to lapse until all your controlled substances are spent, disposed of, or transferred to another registered person.

EH&S oversees this program and is responsible for assisting you in complying with applicable rules and regulations. This includes educating you about these requirements, assisting you during their implementation, and providing regular oversight to insure the DEA that compliance is being maintained.

The Controlled Substances Act places all federally regulated substances into one of five schedules (categories) based on their medicinal value and potential for abuse. The DEA has control and enforcement authority over controlled substances. Several of the drugs used for medical treatment, such as anesthesia, analgesia, and euthanasia, are considered controlled substances. In order to legally purchase, use, dispense, and dispose of these drugs, you must obtain a personal or institutional license from the DEA.

EH&S conducts regular laboratory safety inspections to help you maintain good lab practices. Following good laboratory practices creates a safe research environment and helps you comply with applicable regulations, standards, and guidelines. Inspections follow the OSHA Lab Standard (29 CFR § 1910.1450 )

and occur annually —or more frequently, if needed or requested.

For more information, see Appendix 2 of our Chemical and Hazardous Materials Safety Manual (PDF, 446KB).

The primary objective of laboratory design is to provide a safe environment for conducting research. Laboratory facilities typically require more time for design and construction, a larger capital expenditure, and higher operational costs than most other building types. Because of the highly technical and complex nature of these facilities, their design should have professional oversight and supervision from EH&S. Make sure we have a chance to review the design for your new or remodeled lab, so we can check it against the numerous code requirements for this type of facility, and take into consideration any life safety issues that might arise from the design.

You must attend EH&S laser safety training before you can work with a Class 2, Class 3, or Class 4 laser. Our class will instruct you on:

  • Laser operation fundamentals.
  • Biological effects of laser radiation on the eye and skin.
  • Non-radiation hazards (e.g.: fire, chemical exposure).
  • Classifications of lasers and laser systems.
  • Control measures.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

If you work with a Class 3b or Class 4 laser, you should also schedule a training session in your lab devoted to the wide range of hazards these types of lasers can present. This session includes:

  • A brief review of general laser safety principals.
  • An evaluation and inspection of the lasers in use in your lab.
  • A review of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for each particular laser in your lab.
  • A calculation of maximum permissible eye and skin exposure levels under all conditions.

For more information, see our Laser Safety Manual (PDF, 261KB) and read about Radiation Material & Laser Usage.

You must be approved to use radioactive material or lasers in your research at UT Dallas. To request approval, fill out an Application for Non-Human Use of Radioactive Material (PDF, 46KB) and submit it to the EH&S Radiation Safety Officer (RSO.) Your application must first pass a review by the RSO, then be approved by the University’s Radiation Safety Committee, then obtain final approval from the Texas Bureau of Radiation Control.

To prevent delays in your application, please be specific about where and how any radioactive isotopes will be used, stored, and disposed.

Once approved, all your staff must be trained in Radiation Safety. If EH&S deems it necessary, your staff will also be set up for our film badge monitoring program.

The EH&S radiation safety program provides consultation and guidance to ensure a safe working environment. We offer basic radiation safety courses in your lab upon request, as well as radiation safety refresher courses

You may need to participate in our film badge program to monitor your radiation exposure if you work with radioactive material. Talk to your principal investigator or contact us if you think a badge is necessary for your work. Film badge training is available from the EH&S Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) upon request.

Resources & Forms

A UT Dallas researcher (AKA research faculty member) is responsible for the proper disposition of all items in his/her laboratory. This includes furniture, equipment, chemicals, biological materials, radioactive materials, glassware, sharps, and waste. Your Department Chair is responsible for ensuring that all researchers understand their responsibilities and follow the proper procedure when leaving the University, or when transferring to a different department or lab.

Procedure
  1. Notify your Department Chair of which furniture, equipment, or supplies will be transferred with you, and which will remain.
  2. Ensure that all biological wastes are disposed of in accordance with the procedures of biomedical waste.
  3. Label all hazardous chemicals that will remain in your lab in accordance with our Hazard Communication (PDF, 182KB) policy. Attempt to find other staff who could make use of these chemicals. Any leftover chemicals not accepted by other staff must be segregated into one identifiable area and inventoried. Make a Hazardous Materials Pickup request for these leftover chemicals.
  4. Ensure that all remaining refrigerators, freezers, cold/warm rooms, fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, storage cabinets, sinks, and bench tops are clear of glassware, chemicals, sharps, and other items. Clean and disinfect all their surfaces. Fill out, sign, and post a Check Sheet for Vacating Room form to the door of your lab.
  5. EH&S will perform an exit inspection when we pick up your remaining chemicals. If your former laboratory used radioactive materials, or has posted radioactive material signs, we will perform a wipe test. If not, our Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) will indicate this on the Check Sheet for Vacating Room form.
  6. EH&S will notify Custodial Services that they can perform a general cleaning of your former laboratory. The cleaning costs should be covered by the department leaving the lab.
  7. EH&S will sign the Check Sheet for Vacating Room form.
  8. The Check Sheet for Vacating Room form must remain posted on the door of your former laboratory, to identify that it is cleared for construction, renovation, or reuse.
Guidelines

The following guidelines will help minimize hazards to other people and ensure that the University complies with applicable regulations during a lab relocation.

General Guidelines
  • The University moving crew is not permitted to move any chemical, biological, radioactive, or hazardous material.
  • Either you or a third-party vendor must decontaminate any equipment to be transferred before EH&S will aprove its transfer. Please contact us for help with decontamination or referrals to third-party vendors.
  • All laboratory staff must wear safety glasses, lab coats, and appropriate gloves while handling chemicals.
  • Go through your chemical inventory and dispose of any old and unneeded chemicals. Do not move chemicals into a new lab that should be classified as a chemical waste.
  • Do not move chemical, biological, or radioactive waste. Instead, make a Hazardous Materials Pickup Request.
Moving Chemicals or Hazardous Materials within a Building
  1. Contact us before attempting to move radioactive or biological materials. They require special procedures.
  2. Inventory the chemicals that you want to relocate from your current laboratory to your new one.
  3. Replace any damaged or illegible labels. All containers must be labeled to accurately describe their contents. Do not use abbreviations or trade names.
  4. Check containers and lids for damage and cracks. Replace any faulty caps or containers. Damaged containers cannot be transported.
  5. Obtain moving boxes or plastic bins and a sturdy wheeled cart. We can loan you plastic tubs.
  6. Segregate chemicals by category / hazard class:
    • Inorganic oxidizers
    • Flammable liquids
    • Inorganic acids
    • Inorganic bases
    • Organic acids
    • Flammable solids
    • Miscellaneous organic compounds
    • Miscellaneous inorganic compounds
  7. Only transport chemicals of the same category / hazard class in the same box or bin. Use sufficient packing material to prevent any containers from breaking.
  8. When your chemicals arrive at your new laboratory, Check their containers for breakage or damage, then remove them from their boxes and bins, and place them in their designated locations in your lab.
Moving Chemicals or Hazardous Materials Requiring Transportation / Moving Outdoors
  1. Please contact us at least two weeks before your move. Only EH&S or one of our approved third-party vendors can transport chemicals and hazardous materials over the road or between any buildings not connected by a causeway or tunnel.
  2. There are special procedures for moving radioactive and biological materials.
  3. Inventory the chemicals that you want to relocate from your current laboratory to your new one.
  4. Replace any damaged or illegible labels. All containers must be labeled to accurately describe their contents. Do not use abbreviations or trade names.
  5. Check containers and lids for damage and cracks. Replace any faulty caps or containers. Damaged containers cannot be transported.
  6. Obtain moving boxes or plastic bins. We can loan you plastic tubs.
  7. Segregate chemicals by category / hazard class:
    • Inorganic oxidizers
    • Flammable liquids
    • Inorganic acids
    • Inorganic bases
    • Organic acids
    • Flammable solids
    • Miscellaneous organic compounds
    • Miscellaneous inorganic compounds
  8. Only pack chemicals of the same category / hazard class in the same box or bin. Only pack a single layer in each box or bin. Make sure the total weight of each packed box or bin doesn’t exceed 25 pounds (11 kilograms.) Use sufficient packing material to prevent any containers from breaking.
  9. Label the outside of each box/tub with —

    • The principle investigator’s name and contact phone number.
    • The Laboratory Number where the chemicals need to be taken.
    • The hazard class of the category of chemicals contained inside.
    • An attached inventory list of each chemical, along with its container size and physical state (e.g.: Acetone - 1 gallon - liquid.)
    • A note stating: “This box contains chemicals and must be moved only by Environmental Health & Safety or by an EH&S-approved third-party vendor.”

    Note: We cannot move boxes or bins that don’t have an accurate inventory list.

  10. During the move, we need some of your laboratory staff to stay in your old lab and some of your staff to meet us in your new lab.
  11. When chemicals start getting delivered to your new laboratory, your lab staff will need to check each container for breakage or damage, then remove them from their boxes and bins, and place them in their designated locations in your lab.