It is important that PIs and/or laboratory managers conduct routine inspections of the laboratory space and the work practices of students, employees, and volunteers under their supervision in order to identify potential hazards.
Safety Specialists from the Environmental Health and Safety office annually inspect CWRU work areas. They look to see that work is being performed safely, and also to be sure that, should an accident occur, precautions are in place to mitigate injuries to people and damage to property and the environment. Inspections are important in laboratories because of their high concentration of chemical, biological, and radioactive materials.
During a typically laboratory inspection expect:
- The EHS safety officer to introduce himself and indicate he will perform an inspection. If no one is in the laboratory, the EHS specialist will proceed.
- A laboratory member may accompany the inspector during the process; however, this is not required. Still, a laboratory member should be available should the inspector want to discuss any issues.
- The inspector may examine areas where chemical, biological, and radioactive material are used or stored. They will open and inspect storage cabinets, refrigerators, freezers, drawers near laboratory benches, and under sinks. The inspector will not open and inspect desk drawers where personal items should be stored, but they may visually inspect the desk area itself. Violations will be noted and, if possible, corrected on the spot with the assistance of laboratory personnel.
- The inspector will not open and inspect desk drawers where personal items should be stored, but they may visually inspect the desk area itself.
- During the inspection, the safety specialist will indicate imminent danger, which must be remedied immediately. These violations will be noted as corrected on the inspection report. “Imminent danger” is defined as any condition or practice reasonably expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately if unaddressed. Examples of imminent danger and notable danger include, but are not limited to the following:
“Imminent danger” is defined as any condition or practice reasonably expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately if unaddressed. Examples of imminent danger and notable danger include, but are not limited to the following:
- Improper storage of reactive chemicals.
- Regulated chemical(s) being used outside of a chemical fume hood.
- Incorrect and/or unsafe laboratory practices and equipment (improper technique, using chemical fume hoods that are malfunctioning).
- Obstructed eyewash and/or safety shower station.
- Sharps (razor blades, scalpels, needles, etc) left unattended on table tops or in open area where someone can be hurt.
- Trip hazards on floor (electrical cords, open drawers and cabinets, bottles on floor).
- Obstruction of entries/exits.
- Personnel wearing inappropriate personal protective equipment.
- Improper storage of compressed gas cylinders.
- Before the specialist leaves the laboratory, they will discuss the findings.
- After the inspection a report will be sent to the PI. Anyone staffed in the laboratory may also request a copy. The report will include:
- Name of PI responsible for the area inspected.
- Name of safety specialist who performed the inspection.
- Building and room number of the area inspected.
- Date the inspection occurred.
- Deficiencies found during the inspection that need to be corrected
- Date by which all corrections must be made and the form returned to the EHS office.
If the requirements for correcting a deficiency are unclear or a doubt exists about their merit, the safety specialist listed on the report should be contacted. They will clarify requirements.
A formal appeal to the EHS office and the Laboratory Safety Committee can also be made. A letter of appeal must be submitted to the EHS office within five days of receiving the inspection report. The EHS office, with assistance from the Laboratory Safety Committee, will make a decision regarding the appeal.