UB - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Chemical and Biological Engineering

Regulatory Safety Compliance

Many federal and state agencies, along with the university, school and department, have established rules and regulations which must be followed by anyone working in a laboratory. Disobeying these rules can lead to personal injury, destruction of property and/or damage to the environment, as well as fines and other penalties. These rules and regulations change continually and new ones are constantly being added. Therefore, the listing here may not be complete. Any questions should be directed to U. B.'s Environment, Health & Safety Services (EHS).

Training: Anyone working in a laboratory must be properly trained. See the link at the left.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs): In each laboratory the MSDS for every chemical within that lab must be available.  The y can be paper copies, on a CD or online, as long as they are available when needed.  Anyone working in that lab must be able to produce such a MSDS upon request.   If MSDS for a lab group are stored in another room, the location must  be posted.

Chemical Hygiene Plans (CHPs): Every laboratory must have a CHP. The CHP lists emergency phone numbers and procedures on its first page. It also contains valuable safety practices and requirements. The CHP must contain a standard operating procedure (see below) for each piece of equipment in that lab and for every procedure that takes place in that lab. Anyone working in that lab must be able to produce the CHP upon request.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs): For every procedure that is routinely carried out in a lab, and for each piece of equipment in a lab, there must be a corresponding SOP in the chemical hygiene plan. New SOPs must be submitted to the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department Safety Committee. That committee will review the SOP and also forward it to U. B.'s Environment, Health and Safety Services (EHS) for their review. Once approved, one copy is kept on file in the department and one copy is placed in the chemical hygiene plan.

Chemical Spill Kits: There must be a spill kit in every laboratory. The use of spill kits is covered in the mandatory safety training required before one can work in the laboratory. In the event of an actual spill, if someone is injured or if there is any doubt about being able to clean up a spill safely, University Police should be contacted at 645-2222.  If the spill is small and no one is injured, UB EH&S can be called for assistance at 829-3301. 

Biological and Regulated Medical Waste: Anyone working in a biological laboratory must be familiar and in compliance with EHS Biological and Regulated Medical Waste Procedures.

Laboratory Door Postings:  Laboratory Door Postings: Laboratory and office doors must have a door posting which lists the hazards associated with the laboratory. It also provides contact information for those persons responsible for the room. This information is critical for contacting laboratory or office occupants in the event of an emergency. The posting must be updated at least once per year, or whenever room occupants change. The laboratory postings are available from EHS at or from the department office.  Office door postings are available from the department office.

Container Labeling: If you transfer chemicals (note, even water is a chemical) from a labeled container to an unlabeled container, you must label the new container. Labels should include the chemical name of what's within, in English.  Symbols or experiment numbers are not acceptable labeling.   It is OK to also put your own code on the label, but in addition to the other items. A label that reads Z7-433 might mean everything to you, but it is meaningless to anyone else. If vials are small, label the rack or holder.  Hazardous waste containers must also be labeled as described below under disposal procedures.

Storage of Chemicals and Compressed Gases: Chemicals must be stored so that incompatible chemicals are segregated from each other. For example, it is required that

  • reactive chemicals be segregated from ignitable chemicals,
  • acids be segregated from caustics,
  • corrosives be segregated from flammables,
  • oxidizers be segregated from all other chemicals, and
  • organic reactives be segregated from inorganic reactives

bottle, should it break.  See the EH&S website for chemical compatibility information.

Additionally, there is a limit on the amount of flammable chemicals that can be stored in any one laboratory. These limits vary depending upon the presence of sprinklers, use of flammable storage cabinets and other factors  No more than ten gallons of flammable solvents should be stored in a laboratory outside of a flammable cabinet. These rules on chemical storage and segregation also apply to wastes that are stored in satellite waste accumulation sites.

Compressed gas cylinders, including lecture bottles, must be secured using a chain or strap so that they cannot tip over. If a cylinder is not in use, the regulator should be removed and the cap reinstalled. Cylinders may only be moved using a cylinder cart (which includes a chain for securing the cylinder), and the regulator must be removed and the cap installed during the move. Piping or tubing connected to gas cylinders must similarly be secured and provision must be made for pressure relief should the pressure regulator on the cylinder fail. If compressed gases are present in a laboratory, the door to that laboratory must display a compressed gases sticker.

Management of Hazardous Wastes: The following is an abbreviated procedure:  

No chemical substances may be put in the trash or down the drain of any sink. They must be accumulated in labeled containers and, when full, picked up by EHS..

Containers must be appropriate for the material being put into them. Do NOT overfill containers; leave space at the top for expansion.

Every container used to accumulate waste must be labeled (get labels from the Department Office) when the first drop waste is put into it.  Labels must be completely filled out and dated when full.

In addition to being segregated on the basis of chemical compatibility, waste should be segregated by class. Mixing incompatible wastes can result in unexpected reactions, injuries and/or equipment damage.  In addition, the cost of disposal rises as the toxicity and environmental "unfriendliness" increases. Once you put even a drop of chlorinated aromatic into a waste solvent container, that whole container must be treated as chlorinated aromatic waste.

Every laboratory must have a hazardous waste accumulation area, also known as a Satellite Accumulation Area. This must be located in the same room in which the waste is generated, and must be inspected every week. EHS provides a form that may be used for this purpose. Records for the weekly inspection of satellite waste accumulation areas must be maintained on file and available for a period of three years.   Hazardous wastes, like in-use chemicals, must be segregated so that incompatible chemicals are stored separately.

Whenever a waste container becomes full, the label must be marked with the fill date and an order to have EHS pick it up must be submitted. Forms are available on-line at the EHS web site, and there is no charge for pickup.

For more detailed information on the management of hazardous wastes, refer to the UB EHS Hazardous Waste Management Guidebook.

Clean, empty glass containers and other glassware may be disposed of in regular trash. Contaminated glassware that cannot be cleaned should be treated as hazardous waste.  Chemical labels must be defaced or removed, or covered by EH&S “RCRA Empty” labels, prior to disposal.

Sharps (syringes, scalpels, etc.) that could be used in medical research must be treated and handled as regulated medical waste. Other sharp objects, razor blades, utility knife blades, etc. should first be enclosed in a secondary container (e.g. a small, clear plastic bottle) before throwing them in the regular garbage.

<   / 5 >