August/September 1995

Biohazardous Waste Containers

Throughout the Biomedical Research Building and the Medical School are red biohazardous disposal cans, into which researchers can put previously bagged biohazardous waste. Please be careful not to overfill these cans.

The weight limit of these 32-gallon vessels has been determined to be 50 lbs. Overfilling these containers beyond that weight can be hazardous for many reasons: housekeeping personnel cannot effectively transfer these containers if they are filled beyond capacity, increasing the chances for spillage and occupational injuries. If housekeeping cannot move the container safely, they will leave it--they are protected by OSHA standards against moving containers that are not of a reasonable weight. Having full containers sitting around can lead to further hazards for everyone in the building.

If the biohazardous container nearest you is full, please make the effort to locate another and place your trash in it. As a reminder, all trash placed in these containers must be previously placed in red biohazardous waste bags. If you have further questions or comments, contact Dick Dell in Safety Services (x2907).

Leaving CWRU: Decommissioning Labs

Last month's newsletter featured an article on moving from one part of campus to another. But what if you are moving off-campus? The required procedures to safely and quickly move out of lab space increases greatly. The Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety (DOES) has developed the following decommissioning procedures for PIs and AUs whose research will terminate. Follow these guidelines when preparing to leave the university:

  1. Send a letter to the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) and Chemical Safety Office stating you wish to terminate your status at least 3 weeks prior to the investigator's departure. Indicate which of the following procedures you have completed at this time. All of the following must be completed prior to your termination.
  2. All equipment that has a CWRU inventory control sticker present must be released from the university. In addition, the facility to which you will be moving must accept the equipment into their facility by written reply.
  3. All mechanical, electrical, and other laboratory equipment that is to be removed from the University must be examined by the Chemical Safety Office and Radiation Safety Office. The survey must also include a PCB check (e.g. capacitors and transformers found in electric/electronic equipment) performed by Plant Services prior to removal from the University property. Contact the Chemical Safety Office for PCB determination and proper labeling if the equipment is to leave the University or be placed in the University storage area.
  4. All chemicals need to be packed and moved by professional services. For transporting chemicals please contact Jim Pillar in Purchasing for Department of Transportation (DOT) information. He will arrange for a contractor to move your chemicals according to DOT standards. A letter from the new facility's Safety Officer stating acceptance of the materials must be presented to CWRU Chemical Safety Office.
  5. If you plan to take isotope to your new place of work, arrangements must be made for an EXTERNAL TRANSFER of radioactive material following the guidelines in the Radiation Safety manual.
  6. All RAM inventory and all chemicals that will not be taken to your new location must be either disposed of by DOES or transferred to another AU. Any investigator to whom you transfer part of your chemical inventory must present an acceptance letter of that material and an updated chemical inventory to the Chemical Safety Office. All chemical, radioactive, biohazard, and sharps waste must be removed prior to moving--the lab should not have leftover chemicals or materials in it upon departure.
  7. List the unwanted chemical bottles and their quantity separately on a Waste/Recycle form available from the Chemical Safety Office (368-2907). Make sure to include an account number on the Chemical Waste/Recycle form in order that the material be taken from the site.
  8. Give the RSOF a list of all laboratory personnel leaving CWRU. If some personnel are staying at CWRU, indicate where on campus they will be working.
  9. Return all film badges.
  10. Make sure that all equipment is decontaminated. Equipment which will be moved to another location on or off campus must be cleaned and have all radioactive material stickers removed. If you use carcinogenic, biohazardous, or other hazardous materials, these hazards must be eliminated prior to handling of the equipment.
  11. Complete a radioactive material decommissioning survey for all of your rooms not used by another AU. The survey should be done after the lab has been cleared out and the equipment has been checked. Follow the DECOMMISSIONING guidelines in the Radiation Safety Manual.
  12. Present your survey results for all rooms and equipment to the RSOF for approval. All sewer disposals and transfers of isotopes and chemicals must be thoroughly documented.
  13. Remove radiation, chemical, and biohazardous labeling from laboratory when informed to do so by the Radiation Safety Office and Chemical Safety Office.

Contact DOES (x2906 or x2907) if you have any questions concerning the above procedures.


It is now possible to access CWRU's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) system from various platforms using different software and communication protocols. This system has been received from MDL, Inc., for campus-wide service and can be accessed through any of the following platforms:

  • DOS Systems directly connected to CWRUnet
  • Windows Systems directly connected to CWRUnet Using Telnet
  • Windows Systems directly connected to CWRUnet Using WINQVT
  • Windows Systems connected to CWRUnet Using Dial-up Access
  • DOS Systems connected to CWRUnet Using Dial-up Access
  • Macintosh Systems connected to CWRUnet Using Dial-up Access

Following is a description of the new MSDS database; complete instructions on how to access the database will be available in a brochure put out by the Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety. This brochure will be mailed to all faculty members as soon as it is completed in September.

The CWRU MSDS Database

Hazard communication can challenge the resources of any teaching and research organization. When time and expertise are at a premium, it is often difficult to ensure that MSDSs are readily available, and are clear, focused, and up-to-date, so your staff can safely handle chemicals, comply with state and federal regulations, and respond to emergencies.

The new MSDS database delivers carefully targeted, accurate, and timely electronic data on regulations, health, and safety. It provides valuable data that can protect your staff with updated information on almost 20,000 commonly used chemicals and mixtures. Some of its features include:

  • Broad Coverage of Pure Substances and Mixtures. The MSDS database contains unique MSDSs for almost 20,000 substances--including more than 15,000 pure substances and 4,000 chemical mixtures--to work with a broad, variety of chemicals.
  • Comprehensive Research. Manufacturers' data sheets are often incomplete and their formats inconsistent. The MSDS database system draws upon hundreds of sources, representing thousands of original references.
  • Quarterly Updates. The MSDS database is updated electronically. Every quarter you will receive the latest information, including newly reported data and additional regulatory requirements.
  • Extensive and relevant regulatory information, including U.S. DOT shipping designations, SARA TPQs and RQs, SARA 313 hazardous substances, CERCLA RQs, TSCA 12(b) import/export notifications, TSCA Inventory Status, OSHA Process Safety Management, and California's Prop 65.
  • Fully researched and accurate information on exposure levels, methods for air sampling, and animal and human toxicological data (where available), as well as other detailed information for regulated chemicals.
  • Clear, Consistent Format. The MSDSs adhere to the industry-standard ANSI Z400.1 format, making information easy to find. The format includes these 16 sections:


  • Chemical Product and Company Identification
  • Composition, Information on Ingredients
  • Hazards Identification
  • First Aid Measures
  • Fire Fighting Measures
  • Accidental Release Measures
  • Handling and Storage
  • Exposure Controls, Personal Protection
  • Physical and Chemical Properties
  • Stability and Reactivity
  • Toxicological Information
  • Ecological Information
  • Disposal Considerations
  • Transport Information
  • Regulatory Information
  • Other Information

The MSDSs provide everything required by the Hazard Communication Standard--carcinogen status, target effects, persons at increased risk, antidote information, chemical properties, handling, and hazard data.

"Near Misses" and "Close Calls"

Did you ever slip or trip and almost fall? Did a machine or piece of apparatus you were using ever spark or give you a mild shock? Did something fall and land harmlessly on the floor?

Chances are when these and similar incidents occurred and no injuries or property damage ensued, they were soon forgotten and no other action was taken. However, if you are involved in a "near miss" or "close call" such as these, report it to your supervisor and assist in determining what caused it and how to prevent it from happening again. You or someone else might not be so lucky next time.

Call DOES at x2907 for assistance if necessary. Notify Plant Services (x2580) if there is a maintenance problem such as a wet spot from a leak, loose/missing floor tiles, or a loose shelf or bracket.

DOT Regulations: Requirements for Shipping

There have been some questions recently concerning shipping of regulated materials. With new DOT regulations, packaging of any etiologic, chemical, and radioactive agents for shipping off campus requires strict adherence to the stringent Department of Transportation (DOT) HM 181 rules.

This ruling affects shipping of these materials for any purpose: whether returning a chemical to a distributor, transferring chemicals to a new place of employment, or sending a sample to another institution or test site. The manner of shipping is also regulated by the HM 181 law: whether via highway (in one's own vehicle or in a hired vehicle such as Federal Express), air, vessel, or railroad.

In order to meet these complex rules:

  • It is required that principal investigators (or their designee) notify the Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety (DOES) prior to shipping etiologic, chemical and radioactive agents off campus in order to determine packaging requirements. A DOES technician will visit your lab promptly to ensure that proper manifesting, packaging and labeling are in place.
  • A copy of the shipping papers must be forwarded to the Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety (FAX: 368-2236) prior to shipping the material and before 4:00 PM.
  • One of the following emergency response telephone numbers must be entered on the shipping papers:

Domestic Shipments: 800.255.3924

Overseas Shipments: 813.979.0626 (call collect)

If you frequently ship etiologic, chemical or radioactive material, we will provide you or your staff with the necessary training to prepare packages for shipping. Proper shipping containers and DOT labels are available from the Department of Material Support in the Service Building. Call Jim Pillar at 368-2560.

Be assured that we will not delay shipment of your materials. If possible, a one-day notice prior to shipping would be helpful. It is vital that you contact DOES before the package is sent out. If you have any questions, call DOES at (x2907).