Texas Tech University

New Gateway System to Allow Better Chemical Inventory

Texas Tech will soon begin a new inventory and delivery method for chemicals ordered by campus units.

The Chemical Gateway system is being beta tested and should be operational by March. Under the new system, chemicals will continue to be ordered by individual researchers and departments. The difference is that all orders will now come to the Central Warehouse where a Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) employee will apply a barcode to the product and enter the name, amount of the chemical and its destination into the new EH&S Assist database.

“The new system should make it easier on faculty in that they will no longer need to enter new chemical purchases into their inventories,” said Alice Young, associate vice president for research/research integrity. “Under the new gateway system, purchase orders will list the central warehouse address, and EH&S staff, rather than FedEx or UPS, will deliver the chemicals to all Texas Tech buildings.”

The Chemical Gateway will also create a complete inventory of existing chemicals on campus.

“Faculty have their own inventories, but many have not had the time or resources to upload these inventories into EH&S Assist,” said Young. “We need to invest resources to make the process easier to ensure that faculty principal investigators (PIs) are involved in the process of inventorying existing chemicals. As the inventory project gets underway EH&S will contact all faculty and staff directors whose groups order chemicals. A specific time will be scheduled with each PI for the inventory. The PI will be responsible for having all chemicals in the lab out on the counter and ready to be barcoded. EH&S will work with the PI and other chemical users to organize the chemicals according to a numbering system incorporated with the barcode. Once the barcoding is complete, the PI will be responsible for putting chemicals back in storage according to hazard class."

Once the inventory of existing chemicals is complete, the gateway will allow the university to recycle or remove legacy chemicals that have been stored in labs or other areas – sometimes for years.

“Those legacy chemicals will need to be either disposed of or perhaps transferred to other units that could use them,” said Young. “Also, if a lab has need of a small amount of a chemical, the inventory can be used to identify possible on-campus colleagues who have identified chemicals that could be transferred to other users.”

The gateway system is a direct result of Texas Tech’s response to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigation following a January 2010 accident that left a student seriously injured in a laboratory explosion.

“The university imposed internal recommendations, including a chemical inventory system, in addition to the CSB’s recommendations,” Young said. “The new system will allow us to create and maintain an inventory system that will cover chemicals already on campus as well as new chemical orders - not only for our teaching and research laboratories but also for the campus swimming pool and grounds maintenance.”

The gateway program is a partnership with Fisher Scientific, a leading provider of chemical inventory programs. Two Fisher Scientific employees will be stationed on campus for up to two years to initiate the gateway program and to inventory existing chemicals across campus.