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Laboratory Safety

The mission of the Laboratory Safety group is to promote and support a safe and healthy environment in all research and instructional laboratories at the University of Maryland.  The Laboratory Safety group conducts training, reviews plans for new laboratory spaces, manages the annual chemical fume hood testing program, and manages the laboratory warning sign system.

New Laboratory or Principal Investigator

If you are a new laboratory owner or principal investigator, or you are an existing PI moving into new laboratory space, notifying ESSR will streamline the posting of laboratory signage, completion of administrative updates to SciShield (formerly BioRAFT) database, and fulfilling other compliance needs. ESSR's Laboratory Safety Group is available for consultations to optimize your new space for safety compliance. 

Please use the New Laboratory Notification Form as soon as you know that you will be moving into a new laboratory space and/or to request a consultation. 



Managing Safety in the Laboratory

Managing an active research laboratory can be challenging. Principal investigators are responsible for ensuring all lab operations and personnel comply with a variety of federal, state, and local regulations. The Laboratory Safety Group has developed a Principal Investigator Safety Responsibilities Checklist to help PIs fulfill their safety related requirements. 

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Emergency Preparedness for Laboratories

Every laboratory should be prepared to respond to disruptions, such as campus closures for severe weather or an unscheduled loss of utilities.  Being prepared preserves the safety of laboratory personnel, reduces the loss of research materials, and can minimize the time it takes a laboratory to fully recover to normal operation.  Each laboratory has unique vulnerabilities to address, so procedures should be customized to the research happening in the space. Check out our Emergency Preparedness for Laboratories to see how your lab can prepare for these events. 

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Vacating Laboratory Spaces

Principal investigators leaving the university or moving to another space on campus must either move, dispose, or transfer responsibility for all potentially hazardous materials in laboratory spaces being vacated. Notify ESSR of vacating activities using the Vacating Laboratory Notification Form. Please submit this form as soon as it is known that the laboratory space will be vacated. This form can be completed by any laboratory or department representative familiar with the details of the laboratory and vacating status.

For a detailed checklist of actions that need to be completed prior to turning the space over, see our Checklist for Vacating Laboratories.


Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is clothing or wearable equipment used to protect the wearer from coming into direct contact hazardous materials. Principal Investigators must provide researchers appropriate PPE for their work. 

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Chemical Safety in Laboratories

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Laboratory Warning Signs

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Laser Safety

The University of Maryland Laser Safety Program applies to the use of all Class 3 and Class 4 lasers on campus.

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Teaching Labs

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Laboratory Safety Training

Principal investigators are responsible for identifying the ESSR training programs that are applicable to their research and ensuring that all lab members complete the training.

In the SciShield system, when a member is added to a lab or group, the job activities that are selected for personnel automatically trigger training requirements. Research groups can identify training requirements by selecting their Dashboard and Training Tabs on their SciShield profile.  

Laboratory-specific training covers the hazards, procedures and safety rules that are specific to that laboratory. The principal investigator or a designated experienced lab member conducts this training.

ESSR has resources to assist you in developing laboratory-specific training:

Fire Safety in Laboratories

The Laboratory Safety Group has teamed up with the Office of the Fire Marshal to develop some new resources for research and teaching labs to streamline compliance requirements. 

  • Laboratory Fire Safety Training This quick online module covers basic fire safety that applies to laboratory settings including how to respond during emergencies, common fire hazards in the laboratory and how to mitigate them, and the main requirements of the University of Maryland Policy on Fires and Emergencies. This training is optional for the remainder of 2020 and will transition to being mandatory on an annual basis in 2021 for all researchers who work with hazardous materials. 
  • Open flame operations registration We've developed a short Google form to track labs that use open flame research operations on a regular basis.  Open flame registration is required for all spaces where torch, bunsen burner, and other operations which use open flames are performed. It is not required for high temperature operations that lack open flames such as hot plates, soldering stations, microincinerators, or furnaces. We developed this registration so that labs can quickly and easily document that these operations follow fire code requirements. This registration is one-time only, can be completed by any lab personnel, and multiple rooms can be registered at once. For more information see our Open Flame Operations Registration Fact Sheet.
  • Laboratory demonstrations registration In order to meet recent fire code requirement changes, we have developed a registration form for events that use chemical or fire demonstrations outside of laboratories. Each event can be covered by a single registration form. Each registration should be completed at least 2 weeks prior to the demonstration in case of questions or concerns about the safety of the demonstration.

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