The following briefly describes what Environmental Health & Safety looks for during a typical laboratory inspection. This guide can be used to
assist in your scheduled safety review of laboratories and areas under your
control as supervisor. The lab supervisors are responsible for ensuring for the
safety of the areas and employees under their supervision. Higher level
supervisors and managers are also responsible for ensuring the funding and
authority for safety of all in the areas for which they are responsible
(see NMSU safety policy).
This inspection guide does not
cover all conditions, but the information should assist you in determining
whether your area may be in compliance with law and NMSU policy. The categories follow the NMSU
Laboratory Safety Inspection Form.
NMSU Laboratory & General Safety Inspection Form
1. AREA/DOOR SIGNAGE - (template-
2. SAFETY EQUIPMENT
- General All access doors must be marked when rooms or areas
are being used for chemical, biological or radioactive purposes as outlined in
the NMSU Chemical Hygiene Plan and Lab Safety Guide. All door vision panels must remain unobstructed
for FD use in emergency. Unattended labs shall be locked at all times.
- Names and Phone Numbers: The main door(s) of the lab are checked
for a sheet which contains the names and phone numbers (office and
after-hours) of the principal investigator/supervisor and an alternate contact.
- Hazards Listed: The door signage must also list any special hazards
which may exist in the lab. Examples include: acutely toxic gasses,
pyrophorics, strong corrosives, high pressure gas cylinders, excessive flammables,
biohazards, radioactive materials, etc. Its purpose is to alert visitors and emergency personnel that this room contains hazards
that are not commonly found in a hallway, a classroom or a office (i.e. above normal
conditons) and entering the room will require specific precautions and
possibly protective equipment. Sign should be dated within last year (i.e. updated less than one year ago).
- Emergency Phone Numbers - if area has phone, emergency number are
to posted nearby.
- Emergency Action Plan and/or Specific Procedures for lab are to be
posted for personnel.
- FIRE EXTINGUISHERS (Fire Safety info at safety.nmsu.edu/programs/fire_safety/fire_saf_prog.htm
- Available: Labs are inspected for the presence of a
extinguisher appropriate for the hazards associated with the lab.
Extinguisher need not be in lab, but typically must be readily available within 75 feet
travel of fire hazard.
- Unobstructed: Labs are inspected for the presence of a fire
extinguisher in a location which is readily distinguishable and
accessible to the lab users. In most cases the fire extinguisher should
be mounted on the wall near the lab exit.
- Mounted Properly: Labs are inspected to be certain that the
fire extinguisher is mounted on the wall near the exit way or door. Fire
extinguishers MUST NOT be setting on the floor. Do not accept
replacement extinguishers that can not be hung from existing
hanger. Call OFS work desk for replacement.
- Read to use - Current inspection, tag, & seal -
Extinguisher should be read to use, with an inspection tag showing
inspection within the last year. It should be sealed and current hydrotest.
Stamped on the cylinder is the date the unit
was last hydrotested. Verify that the hydrotest is within the legal
limit. Units filled with water (usually silver): within last 5 years;
for units filled with dry chemical or carbon dioxide: within last 12
years. OFS and NMSU fire department is responsible for all NMSU fire extinguishers
(main campus). Supervisors should request service via a OFS work order or call
NMSU Fire Department (646-2519) for
replacement, inspection or questions.
- EYEWASH (and/or drench hose shower)
- Available: The lab is inspected for the need and presence
of an eyewash station. Existing units are checked to determine that the location of the unit is accessible and
marked with some special sign. Any area which deals with corrosive, flammable or otherwise hazardous
material is required to have immediate access to eyewash and drench shower
facilities. Eye wash bottles provide only a limited water supply (not 15
minutes of use) and are often out-of-date (bacteria laden), so are not
acceptable for areas with modern plumbing. Equipment
must be in operational order, unobstructed and within 10 second travel
(max 100 ft unobstructed travel).
- Inspected & Flushed Record: Unit should have record tag
with at least record of annual inspection. The person in charge of the lab is
to be questioned concerning the frequency of flushing the eyewash and/or
drench hose unit (at least monthly). EH&S will test annually and tag (or
request repair for non-compliant units). At minimum, weekly flushing by
users is recommended. Supervisor should submit a work order to OFS if unit
is not operative. Call EH&S 646-3327 if the tag is out of date.
- DELUGE/DRENCH SHOWER:
- Available: The area is inspected for the need and presence
of an deluge/drench shower. Existing units are checked to determine that
the location of the unit is accessible, marked with signage, and does not
create any additional hazards such as electrical equipment being utilized
in the safety shower's splash zone. Any area which deals with large
quantities of corrosive or toxic material is required to have immediate
access to eyewash and drench shower facilities.
- Inspected & Flushed Record: Unit should have record tag
with at least record of annual inspection. The person in charge of the lab
is questioned concerning the frequency of flushing the eyewash and/or
drench hose unit (at least monthly). EH&S will test annually and tag (or
request repair for non-compliant units). If unit has floor drain, weekly
flushing by users is recommended. Supervisor should submit a
work order to OFS if unit is not operative. Call EH&S 646-3327 if the tag
is out of date.
- First Aid Kit Stocked: Although not required, the laboratory is inspected for
the presence of a first aid kit. When provided, the kit is inspected to
determine that adequate supplies of bandages gauze and tape are contained
within. If present we recommended that a commercially available package be
used and maintained in accordance with the supplier's original specifications.
- Exits are Marked: Exit doors are inspected to be certain that they
are distinguishable from other doors in the lab. This is only typical in
labs that are fairly large. In addition, exit doors are inspected for
blockage from the exterior in order to be certain that access can be gained
into the room by emergency personnel.
3. PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT (PPE)
If hazardous substances are used or stored in the lab, the availability,
condition and quantity of approved personal protective equipment (PPE) are verified.
It is explained to the lab personnel that such approved equipment:
Personal Protective Equipment such as goggles, masks, gloves and cover gowns must be readily available
and not worn outside the immediate work areas. Lab coats and appropriate shoes shall be worn to avoid
any contact with harmful materials. If such equipment is not available,
Environmental Health & Safety is available to assist you in your choices.
If respirators use is necessary for certain conditions, then evidence of respirator training and
annual certification must be readily available.
- must be provided at no cost to the user and readily available
- requires that the user must be trained in use, care,
limitations, and when it will be used
- must have its use enforced if mandatory use is verified
4. GENERAL HAZARDS
- Glasses/Goggles/Face Shield: Condition of visibility and straps are
- Gloves: Users are reminded that:
- - various types of gloves are required for various chemicals
- - if disposable they must be changed often
- - if they must be checked for pinhole leaks
- Aprons & Smocks: If concentrate acid, base, or other corrosive
used in lab, then rubber apron is needed for user protection. Users are reminded that sufficient apron length will
protect from thigh exposures.Lab smocks should be available.
- Respirators: NMSU Personnel are advised that the respirator use
must conform to NMSU Respirator Safety Program. Please see
NMSU Respirator Safety Program for
- Respirator Users must be properly trained and fit: If respirators are in
use, lab personnel are asked if they have received proper training and
testing. If not, contact Environmental Health & Safety by
phone (646-3327) or the Safety Website at http://safety.nmsu.edu/.
- No Mouth Pipetting: If mouth pipetting is observed, personnel are
advised that mouth pipetting of any substance is not allowed.
5. SPILL PROCEDURES
- Housekeeping Satisfactory: The lab is inspected to determine that
the housekeeping is satisfactory. Consideration should be given to: physical
hazards created by stored items; excessive storage of combustible materials;
and unneeded storage of items such as glassware, lab supplies, and
- No Smoking, Eating, Drinking or Cosmetic Application: Labs are
inspected for evidence of smoking, eating, drinking or cosmetic application.
Evidence such as pop cans, food wrappers and smoking materials suggests this
may be the case.
- Aisle/Exits Unobstructed: Aisles within the laboratory are
inspected for a minimum clear width of 28 inches. Exit doors must be
completely clear and free of obstructions.
- Spill Clean Up Kit: Personnel are asked if they know the location
of their chemical spill clean up kit. If no such kit exists, consult the NMSU
Lab Safety Guide and the NMSU Waste Manual for more information on spill
kits. Personnel are advised to close the area and call the EH&S 646-3327
if they do not know how to properly clean up a small spill.
- Secondary Containment for Corrosives: Corrosives and large
containers of flammables should have secondary containment such as trays to
contain any spills.
7. GAS CYLINDERS
- General UL Electrical Equipment and Cords - Only Underwriters Laboratories approved equipment and cords are authorized for use. Only UL listed multiple outlet strips equipped with 15 AMP circuit breakers are approved.
- Circuits Properly Loaded: Electrical cords and circuits are inspected.
We look for improper use of extension cord as permanent outlets and for urge
protectors in a daisy chain (one unit plugged into another). These increase
the risk of fire. Surge protectors are not overload protectors, some
have cheap circuit protectors but not all. We have seen examples of fires
caused by overloading the surge protector. They are meant only for very
light loads such as computer and typical solid state control circuits. Heating and motorized appliances are not to be plugged
into surge protectors. Overloading can be defined
as excessive electrical cords plugged into an electrical circuit. In addition, cheater plugs are sometimes used to
improperly plug a three
wire plug into a two wire system.
- Plugs are grounded and cord in good condition: Electrical cords are inspected to be certain
that ground pins have not been removed or damaged. When Environmental Health & Safety
inspects labs, select circuits are checked for proper grounding and polarity
with a Circuit Tester.
- GFCI protection needed - Outlets within reach of sink or water need
to be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter unit. The unit can
sense that electron flow is not returning via the wire, as might occur when
the electricity flows through your wet hand or body to ground or to a metal
sink, and it then shuts off the circuit. These can be installed at the
outlet or in the electric panel.
- No Cords Across Aisles: Aisles are inspected for the presence of
electrical, phone or other cords in them. Cords which are placed on the
floor can be damaged by materials crossing over them. In
addition, a cord across an aisle create a physical tripping or slip hazard.
- Secured, Capped & Separated: The laboratory is inspected for
the presence of compressed gas cylinders. When they are located within the lab
they are inspected to determine that they are secured in an upright position
and are labeled with contents. In addition they are checked to be certain that
a valve caps are in place when the cylinder is not in use and that flammable
cylinders are not stored with oxidizing cylinders (require 20 ft or 1/2 hour
fire separation). Containers must be labeled for contents and usage.
Special usage of bottles should be noted with signs or labels.
- No Extremely Toxic, Explosive, or Pyrophorics: The laboratory is
inspected for the presence of compressed gas cylinders which are extremely
toxic, explosive or pyrophoric. If So, Detection System is in
Place: When extremely toxic, explosive or pyrophoric cylinders are
found, the storage location is looked at for the presence of detection
systems. In most cases cylinders of this nature should be stored inside of
gas cabinets or fume hoods.
9. CHEMICAL STORAGE
- No Food or Drink sign: Refrig, freezer & microwave units in
labs must be marked with no food/drink sign. Food appliances in
proximity to lab should be marked as food/drink only.
- No Food With Chemicals: The refrigerator and freezer is checked for
- Flammables in Explosion Proof Unit: If flammable (Flash point
<100F) chemicals are
stored in a refrigerator, it must be designated as "Explosion
- By Compatibility: Chemicals are checked to ensure that they are
separated by reactive classes and not stored completely by the alphabet. Oxidizers, corrosives, caustics,
reactives, and flammables should be stored separately and away from organics
- In Cabinets or Stable Shelving: All chemicals must be stored in
cabinets or stable shelving. Chemicals may not be stored on the floor or
precariously on shelves. Liquids are to be stored below head/chest level to
prevent spill on to body and reduce risk of drop and breakage.
- Labeled Containers: All chemicals must have legible
labels which include the name of the chemical and its hazard rating for
fire, health, reactivity and special hazard (also see
NMSU Safety Handbook). Carcinogens,
mutogens, tetratogen, radioactives and other highly toxic materials are to
be stored in separate marked storage.
- No Excess of Flammables: Labs are inspected for the presence of
excessive amounts of flammable liquid storage. Maximum quantities are
determined based upon the type of laboratory inspected, the hazard
classification of the flammable liquid, the container used for storage
purposes and the fire protection features of the lab. Labs performing
self-evaluations will have to make a "value judgement" regarding
the quantity of flammables being stored. Environmental Health & Safety
uses NFPA 45 and NFPA 30 to determine the maximum quantities of flammables
that can be stored at the lab both inside and outside of flammable storage
- Peroxidizables Dated: Peroxides and chemicals which may form
peroxides are checked that they are labeled with reciept , open and required
disposal date. Personnel are advised that ethers which have been opened for
more than 3 months need to be checked for peroxides and disposed if present.
Consult the NMSU Hazardous Waste Manual, safety.nmsu.edu/programs/haz_wst/wastemanual.htm
for more information
on perioxidizable chemicals.
11. WASTE CHEMICALS
- If waste is generated is there an accumulation area, is it signed, are waste forms
completed and atttached? Consult the NMSU Hazardous Waste Manual, safety.nmsu.edu/programs/haz_wst/wastemanual.htm for more information.
- Are waste containers closed? Is secondary containment present (not always
Fume Exhaust Hoods - The average face velocities (ave 6 locations) should be between 80 and 150
FPM at the working sash height with an optimum level of 100 FPM. The
sash should never be higher than 12-18 inches except when moving
materials into/out of hood. EH&S will test annually, certify, and tag (or request repair for non-compliant units).
A hood marked "limited service" indicated that hood failed the standard but is
still operational. It can be used for limited purposes when a
certified hood is not available. Highly toxic or volatile chemicals should
not be used or placed in limited use hood. "Out of service" indicates the
hood is out of service and not to be used. EH&S will clearly mark and place
a repair order for hood deemed "Out of service" and "Limited service."
Per NMSU Policy the department CHO or representative are to check hoods for
compliance at least quarterly. Each hood shall have air flow indicator
(meter, guage or tissue paper indicator) to show whether unit is in operation. Supervisor
should submit a work order to OFS if hood unit is not operative. Non-operative
hoods shall be marked as such (i.e. out of order, do not use).
Biological Safety Cabinets - Certification is required annually or any time the hood is moved or has had maintenance performed.
Department are responsible for BSC certification. Non-operative BSL
hoods (and non-certified BSL2 and 3 hoods) shall be marked as such (e.g. out
of order, not certified, do not use).
- Used For All Work Generating Toxic Fumes: Personnel are advised
that all work which may generate any toxic fumes must be done in a
certified, functioning exhause hood. Consult recommendation
guide for hood use.
- Housekeeping Satisfactory: Hood and lower storage is checked for
excess chemicals and equipment which would alter the proper air flow
- Certified: Hood is checked for certification sticker. If in use,
does the hood have a inspection sticker? Is the sticker dated within the last
13. MECHANICAL HAZARDS
- Equipment is Guarded: Mechanical equipment is inspected for proper
guarding of its mechanical parts. For instance, vacuum pumps are inspected
in order to determine that a belt guard is in place and grinding wheels are
inspected in order to determine that the chip guard is in place.
- Stop switches are to be easily accessible
- Heavy, tippable equipment must be secured to prevent tip over?
14. CHEMICAL INVENTORY
- HAZCOM INVENTORY - Is the NMSU inventory available for area? Is it complete and
current (within year)?
- Are correct MSDS for chemicals readily available (printed & available
within 10 minutes)?
- MSDSs Available: Lab personnel are
to be questioned about the location of their MSDSs. By Federal regulation, the lab should have an MSDS for each chemical
being used at the location. If you cannot find a MSDS for a
chemical or need other assistance, call 646-3327 or check the Safety Website at
15. TRAINING/DOCUMENTS - LAB STANDARD
- HazCom Training - Have all area users had HazCom training from
EH&S. Documents? Understand regs?
- Lab Standard Training - Have all lab users had Lab Standard
Training ? Documents? Understand regs?
- Chemical Hygiene Plan Available: Does the lab have a current copy
of the NMSU Model Chemical Hygiene Plan?
- Do all lab personnel know where their copy of the Hygiene Plan is
- NMSU Lab Safety Guide - Does lab have copy of lab safety
guide? If additional copies are needed, they can be requested by
calling 646-3327 or check the NMSU Safety Website at safety.nmsu.edu
- Bloodborne Pathogen Training ? Exposure Control Plan?
- Hazardous Waste Training?
- Radiation Training - annual? SOP for radiation use?