Laboratory Safety

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Research and education in science laboratories involve a variety of hazards. It is the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) policy to protect and promote the health and safety of faculty, staff, students and the environment. Faculty, staff and students who may be exposed to chemical and/or physical hazards in the laboratory should be informed of the nature of these hazards and how to protect themselves and others who may also be exposed.


The purpose of this manual is to describe the proper use and handling practices and procedures to be followed by people working with hazardous chemicals and/or physical hazards in UCCS laboratories to protect them from potential health and physical hazards presented by chemicals or physical hazards used in the workplace, and to keep chemical exposures below specified limits. It is based on the recommendations of the National Research Council in their publication, "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory - Handling and Disposal of Chemicals".

It is intended to fulfill the requirements of the following regulations:

  • Chemical Hygiene Plan - 29 CFR 1910.1450 "Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories"
  • Hazardous Waste Management Plan - 40 CFR 262 and 6 CCR 1007-3
  • Hazardous Waste Preparedness and Prevention Plan - 40 CFR 265 and 6 CCR 1007-3
  • Hazard Communication Plan - 29 CFR 1910.1200
  • Hazardous Materials Management Plan - Colorado Springs Fire Department

Campus Policy

The UCCS Executive Team has adopted a policy (400-002 Hazardous Materials Management) which states:

"University community members who handle hazardous substances on behalf of the University are required to maintain, use and dispose of such substances in accordance with the applicable CU Colorado Springs Hazardous Material Management Plan, State, Federal and Local laws and regulations as a condition of their employment, academic program or contractual agreement with the University. University community members should obtain assistance in ascertaining his/her obligations under these laws and regulations from the Department of Public Safety, Environmental Health and Safety Manager. Any community member who violates any such laws or instructions given by the Department of Public Safety, Environmental Health and Safety shall be deemed to have acted outside the scope of his/her authority."


This guideline applies to all UCCS operated (leased or owned) facilities and equipment (including vehicles). It also applies to any UCCS employee, volunteer or student worker who works directly with chemicals or other physical hazards, or is in close proximity to anyone conducting research using chemicals or other physical hazards which falls under federal and state regulations or guidelines who should be familiar with all portions pertinent to their work.

The degree of protection required is based on the potential hazard posed by the material under both ordinary and emergency working conditions. Issues and hazards specific to individual laboratories, including personnel training, should be addressed in a Laboratory Safety Plan which should be prepared by every laboratory. For purposes of this guideline, laboratory is defined in very broad terms as "a building, part of a building, or other place equipped to conduct scientific experiments, tests, investigations, etc. or in which chemicals or other physical hazards are utilized as a normal part of operations." There is no requirement for significant chemicals to be present in order for the location to fall under this guideline. However, there are areas on campus which are not normally thought of as a laboratory that are subject to this guideline. The following is an example of areas subject to this guideline:

  • Chemistry academic and research labs
  • Biology academic and research labs
  • Physics academic and research labs where chemical/physical hazards are present
  • Engineering academic and research labs where chemical/physical hazards are present
  • Health Sciences academic and research labs where chemical/physical hazards are present
  • Biofrontiers Labs
  • Photography Lab
  • Pool Operations
  • Facilities Chemical Storage/Use Operations
  • Auxiliary Facilities Chemical Storage/Use Operations
  • Art studios where chemical/physical hazards are present

This list is not intended as an exclusive list but rather as an example.

This plan discusses safe practices and procedures for research and educational laboratories and for day to day operations involving the use of hazardous materials. It is not intended to be a fully comprehensive reference but rather a starting reference. There may be chemicals, procedures and other circumstances in each laboratory that present unique or unusual hazards not addressed here; these hazards are best addressed by the principle investigator or supervisor of the respective laboratory with specific operating procedures developed in consultation with Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) if necessary. Further information on general chemical safety or specific items can be obtained through the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) office.

Regulatory Status

UCCS is registered with the EPA as a Small Quantity Generator (SQG) of hazardous waste. It becomes the responsibility of each person to identify any possible hazardous waste that he or she might be generating and then to assure that the waste is handled in a manner consistent with regulations.

Facilities at UCCS that have been issued a Hazardous Materials Operations permit by the City of Colorado Springs Fire Department include:

  • Campus Services Building (including grounds garages, flammable storage building, bulk gas facility, paint shop, warehouse, auto bays and maintenance facilities/shops)
  • Engineering & Applied Science Building (microelectronics laboratory, physics laboratories & shop)
  • Centennial Hall (all laboratories, prep rooms, chemical stockroom & solvent storage)
  • Osborne Center (all laboratories, stockrooms and prep areas, storage rooms & hazardous waste storage room)
  • Recreation Center (including chemical storage rooms)

In addition to the facilities that have been issued a specific hazardous materials operation permit, other chemical operation locations include:

  • Columbine Hall darkroom
  • Custodial closets in all buildings
  • Fine Arts modulars
  • Gallery/paint studio
  • Maintenance shops & LP/compressed gas storage in all buildings
  • Mechanical/boiler rooms in all buildings
  • Dining and Hospitality Services Beverage Operations