University Business May 2017 - 39

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to inspect the condition of chemical
containers.
As part of a chemical hygiene plan, a
chemical inventory is also required by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, says Ault.
Access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS),
formerly known as MSDS, for all toxic
substances is mandated as well. SDS contain detailed information about the properties of each chemical, associated health
hazards, protective measures and precautions required for safe handling, storage
and transportation of the chemical. For
example, are flammable liquids kept in
cabinets approved for flammable liquids?
Keeping appropriate personal protective equipment close at-hand is important.
You can determine what you need only
once you know what substances are present in the lab, classroom or facility, says
Kaufman.
Everyone on campus-faculty, staff,
lab technicians, facilities professionals
and students-should receive basic safety
training and then more specific training based on the particular compounds
or substances being studied. Laboratory
chemicals "are typically more dangerous to
the person using the materials than to the
campus community at large," says Steven
Nelson, associate director of environmental health and safety at Auburn University
in Alabama.
At the University of Michigan, all researchers receive lab safety training, says
Terrance Alexander, executive director of
the Office of Environment, Health and
Safety. Anyone working with biologics or
radio isotopes receives additional guidance.
Grounds and maintenance staff go through
numerous safety sessions-in-person, in
groups and one-on-one, plus online-to
learn to deal with various hazards. "We've
trained over 10,000 members of the campus community," Alexander says. "More
training is the best line of defense."
A campuswide safety manual to standardize procedures for handling hazardous materials is a must. Kaufman advises having every employee sign a safety
agreement that makes them aware of the
repercussions for ignoring the rules. An

CLEAN SWEEP-Auburn U researchers are reminded in a waste management
policy guide to work with Environmental Health & Safety on proper handling and
disposal of materials when they leave-rather than just abandoning the lab.

active campus safety committee that meets
regularly is another best practice, as are internal lab inspections that occur at least
monthly, says Kaufman.
Colleges must also have emergency
plans in place-and items such as spill kits
on hand-to respond quickly and prevent
damage when an accident occurs. Local fire departments should be informed
about what kind of materials are stored
on campus and where so they know how
best to respond when an emergency call
comes in.
Another must: Clear disposal policies
that comply with federal and state regulations. Failure to follow these procedures
can result in accidents and expensive fines.
3. What is the best way to dispose of
hazardous materials?
All campuses have some quantity of hazardous materials, especially in chemistry
and research labs, Nelson says. Larger, research-intensive universities generally have
a greater quantity on-hand while smaller
schools, though they store fewer chemicals, may still have a variety of highly hazardous substances.
At The University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, the Environmental

Health and Safety Office collects hazardous waste directly from laboratories or
central accumulation points, says Trent
Brown, university environmental health
and safety officer. Waste is then disposed
in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the law that provides the framework for the proper management of hazardous materials and best
practices for environmental stewardship.
Officials coordinate a weekly designated collection time and campus location. "This enables the university to better
manage hazardous waste collections by
reducing quantities stored at the point of
generation and by providing for a timely,
streamlined process in disposing of hazardous materials," says Brown. 

Lab safety first
Not sure if your lab safety guidelines fall into best practices?
The nonprofit Laboratory Safety
Institute offers a free copy of its
laboratory safety guidelines at
www.labsafetyinstitute.org/
LabSafetyGuidelines.html.

May 2017 | 39


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