Texas Tech University

Lab Safety FAQs

Research Documents

How do I know if my research requires approval by a TTU Safety Committee?

  • Work involving energetic materials requires approval by the Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee (ILSC).
  • Work involving pathogenic microorganisms, biological toxins, recombinant DNA and/or human blood, tissue, cells or fluids requires approval by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). 
  • Work involving radioactive materials, radiation-producing equipment or lasers requires approval by the Radiation and Laser Safety Committee (RLSC).
  • Work involving human subjects, including sample collection and surveys, requires approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Approval must be granted before materials can be purchased and/or work can begin for all research under the purview of one of the committees. All applications are available on the EHS webpage.

Are there templates available for the WASP and SOPs?

Yes! There are Microsoft Word templates available for both the WASP and SOPs on the Tools & Templates page.

Where can I find University safety policies?

The University Laboratory Safety Manual contains the Chemical Hygiene Plan, Biosafety Manual, Radiation Safety Manual and Laser Safety Manual

Safety Training

How do I know what training I need?

See the Training Matrix to identify your required training(s).

How do I register for safety training?

Complete the Training Enrollment form. You will be enrolled in the requested training(s) and an automated email from Vivid Learning Systems will be sent to you with a link to access the training. In-person training sessions are also available by request.

Do I need to take refresher training?

Refresher training for most safety courses are required biennially. Vivid Learning Systems, the Learning Management System used for EHS safety training, sends automated refreshers when it is time to renew your training. Bloodborne Pathogen training is required annually.

Can I review the training information?

Yes; you can always log into your Vivid account and review the training material in which you are enrolled.

Are there special requirements for respiratory protection?

Yes. Personnel must complete and submit the Occupational Health Program Enrollment Form to ehs.ohp@ttu.edu, be deemed physically capable of wearing a respirator by a licensed physician, take and pass Respirator Protection Program online training and be fit-tested for an appropriate respirator by EHS. All steps must be completed annually.

Lab Management

How do I know what EHS looks for during safety surveys?

The Lab Safety Checklist (Appendix AB of the University Lab Safety Manual) provides the safety departures EHS looks for during safety surveys.

How do safety surveys work?

EHS personnel will survey a work area and report any departures to the supervisor, DSO and Department Chair. A 30-day correction period is allowed for the correction of identified departures. A follow-up survey will follow the correction period and findings are sent to the supervisor, DSO, Department Chair and Dean of the College.

It is important to realize that any lab space actively being worked in will have safety departures. The day-to-day operations of a lab produce spills, clutter, unsecured sharps, waste containers, etc. A different set of eyes (i.e., EHS staff) can help identify these sometimes overlooked departures.

EHS is available to survey a space without the annual report upon request by lab personnel.

I don't think my fume hood works. Who do I call?


Call 742-3876 and ask for a Fume Hood Assessment in your lab. EHS personnel will come perform an assessment of the hood. If repairs do need to be made, it is your responsibility to submit a Work Order to the TTU Physical Plant to repair the hood. After repairs are made, EHS will need to reassess the hood. The hood will be certified by EHS once it is functioning properly.

What items cannot be stored in the laboratory?

Food, drinks, tobacco, medications, personal hygiene products, and cosmetics or lotions are not to be stored or used in the lab.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

How do I make sure I have the right PPE for the hazards associated with my work?

First, evaluate all the hazards in your work area. Eye protection must be ANSI certified for the hazard (e.g. LASER, UV, impact, etc.). If there is a potential for splashes, splash goggles must be worn. A face shield may also be needed in conjunction with basic eye protection. Body protection is typically a lab coat; however, barrier coats, liquid or chemically-resistant aprons, steel-toed boots, hard hats, etc. may also be needed. Gloves must be compatible with the materials being handled. There are glove compatibility charts (e.g., Kimberly-Clark) available online. Also think about hot and cold protective gloves, if needed.

Respiratory protection is not needed with proper engineering controls in place. Dust masks or surgical masks are allowed without EHS oversight; however, respirators must be obtained after going through the Occupational Health Program with EHS. The best way to tell the difference between masks and respirators is masks have one strap and respirators have two.

Basic PPE at TTU is a lab coat, certified eye protection, water-resistant foot ware and nitrile or latex gloves. Other PPE may be needed in addition to basic PPE

When do I need to wear PPE?


All lab personnel must wear appropriate PPE anytime hazardous materials or equipment (chemical, biological, radiological, mechanical, etc.) are being used in the lab space by anyone. This includes personnel not actively manipulating materials (i.e., sitting at a computer). PPE shall never be worn in public areas including hallways, elevators, office spaces, etc.

What PPE do I need to wear in my lab?

Your Work Area Safety Plan (or WASP) should tell you the specifics of PPE usage. Most typical work areas require eye protection, body protection in the form of a lab coat, apron or scrubs and gloves appropriate for the materials being handled. Solid, water-repellent, closed-toed shoes and long pants are required for all areas

Equipment

I just got my lab space and there is old/broken equipment in my lab. How do I get rid of it?

The equipment must be appropriately decontaminated. Contact EHS at 742-3876 for guidance if needed. Then attach an Equipment Decontamination Form and call EHS to certify the equipment for removal. TTU Surplus can then be notified by lab personnel to remove the equipment.

I need to send a piece of equipment for repair. Is there anything special I need to do?

The equipment must be appropriately decontaminated by lab personnel, cleared by EHS and have a completed Equipment Decontamination Form accompany any documentation required by the serving company. Contact EHS after decontamination to sign off on the equipment.

I don't know what engineering controls I need for my research. Who can help me?

Call EHS at 742-3876 or email safety@ttu.edu for assistance in identifying appropriate engineering controls.

Who can I contact to dispose of a mercury thermometer?

Contact EHS at 742-3876 to dispose of mercury thermometers. An alcohol thermometer can be given to the lab to replace the thermometer, if needed.

Emergency Equipment and Response

Does EHS provide spill kits?

EHS does provide spill kits with approximately one kilogram (1kg) of acid neutralizer, absorbent pads, a waste bag and a plastic container to collect spill materials. Contact EHS at ehs.lab.safety@ttu.edu or 742-3876 if you need a spill kit for your work area(s). Additional spill kit materials should be purchased by the PI to ensure clean up materials are appropriate for all materials in the lab. See Appendix AC for guidance on spill kit materials.

Waste

What wastes are collected by EHS for disposal?

Chemical, radiation and universal (i.e., printer cartridges, paint waste, batteries) wastes are to be collected by EHS for disposal. Some biological waste must also be collected by EHS, but this is determined by EHS.

How often do I need my chemical waste picked up?

Chemical waste containers cannot be used past 90 days of the start date or past ¾ full. You may accumulate a few containers of waste during each 90-day period not to exceed 40 gallons; however, be mindful that flammable wastes are counted in the total allowable amount of flammables in a lab.

What do I need to do to prepare my waste for pick-up?

A correctly completed Waste Label must be affixed to each container of waste. Make sure the container is closed tightly and any spillage has been cleaned. Have personnel  meet the EHS Waste Team or set the waste containers in a visible area once the pick-up request has been submitted.

What chemical wastes are incompatible?

The following types of waste are incompatible: acid and base wastes, halogenated and non-halogenated wastes, and inorganic and organic wastes.

Chemicals

Are there guidelines for purchasing chemical and/or biological materials?

Yes; materials under the purview of one of the institutional compliance committee(s) cannot be purchased until an application is approved by the relevant safety committee(s). Chemical purchases must:

  1. ship to TTU Central Receiving, Room # EHS;
  2. have the PI's name in the Principal Investigator space in General Information on the PO; 
  3. list the building and room number where the chemical is to be stored in the Internal Notes Section of the PO.

All chemical, biological and gas purchases are approved by EHS. PIs and purchasers are also encouraged to attend TechBuy training offered by Procurement Services if they plan to submit their own purchase orders (PO) to learn the inner workings of the TechBuy system. Reference the Hazardous Materials Procurement Guide for detailed information.

Additionally, proper storage or engineering controls are required to be in place before chemical delivery (e.g., flammable materials will not be delivered until a flammable storage cabinet is present in the lab space).

I brought chemicals from my previous institution. How can I add them to my inventory?

Complete a Barcode Request Form and submit it to EHS. The chemicals will be added to your online inventory and barcodes will be campus mailed to you.

I received a chemical without a barcode. How do I get one?

Complete a Barcode Request Form and submit to EHS. The chemical will be added to your online inventory and a barcode will be campus mailed to you.

What do I do with the barcode on my chemical after the container is empty?

Peel the yellow portion of the barcode off the container and affix it to the Barcode Return Form. Campus mail the form to Mail Stop (MS) 1090 and the chemical will be removed from your inventory. The form does not need to be filled to return it. Do so monthly, bimonthly, etc. to keep your inventory accurate.

How can I access my chemical inventory? How can my students access my inventory?

PIs can ensure they have online inventory access by emailing ehs.lab.safety@ttu.edu.  PIs can grant lab personnel access to their inventory by emailing ehs.lab.safety@ttu.edu the name(s) of the individual(s) to be added.

How do I safely store chemicals?

Chemicals must be stored according to the Storage System outlined in Appendix AA of the University Laboratory Safety Manual. The large number printed on chemical barcode indicates the storage group for that specific chemical. It is prudent to store chemicals in secondary containment to collect spills.

How do I dispose of empty chemical containers?

Containers should be completely empty. Remove the yellow portion of the barcode and affix it to a Barcode Return Form (mail to EHS campus Mail Stop 1090). Most containers can be disposed of in the dumpster. EPA P-listed chemical containers must be tripled-rinsed with an appropriate solvent prior to disposal in a dumpster.

What does the blue dot on my chemical barcode mean?

Chemicals with an NFPA health hazard rating of 3 or 4 have a blue dot affixed to the barcode. These chemicals should be treated with caution as they are often carcinogenic or toxic.

What chemicals are peroxide-formers and how do I test them?

A list of chemicals identified as peroxide-formers and methods for testing are found in Appendix AH of the University Laboratory Safety Manual.

Reporting

What incidents am I required to report?

Any incident that results in property damage or personnel injury or chemical exposure must be reported to EHS within 24 hours of the incident.

How do I report an incident?

EHS should be notified of the incident within 24 hours of the incident by phone or email. An Incident Report Form must be completed and submitted to EHS. There is a form for TTU employees and a separate form for students, visitors and others.

What do I do if I am concerned about safety somewhere else on campus?

A Safety Concerns and Near-Misses (SCAN) Report can be submitted to EHS. Concerns can be submitted anonymously; however, we recommend you include your contact information for follow up purposes. You will never be implicated for reporting a safety concern.

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Environmental Health & Safety