Common Lab Safety Problems and Easy Solutions

The results of our regular lab safety surveys indicate that many of the deficiencies noted can be reflected in a concise list of common issues. Summarized below are these common problems and the easy corrective actions.

Safety training for lab personnel not completed or not documented
Contact EH&S for the next scheduled safety training class or to arrange for a special session for your lab. Remember to ensure that all new hires are trained and to keep a record of any additional safety training provided within your unit. Training documents should be kept in the lab safety binder for easy reference.

Refrigerated storage inappropriate for flammables
New common-use flammable storage refrigerators have been provided by the Office of Research, which are now located throughout UTHealth for the safe storage of flammables. Call 500-5832 for the location of the unit closest to you.

18 inch clearance to ceiling not maintained
For fire safety reasons, a minimum ceiling clearance of 18 inches should be maintained. Have old or unused equipment and supplies removed by faxing a Transfer of Equipment form to 500-4866. This action, along with the removal of old waste materials will serve to free up much needed appropriate storage space.

Flammable chemical storage unacceptable
Flammable storage cabinets are regularly placed into surplus and are available free of charge. If one is needed for your lab, call 500-8106 to check on availability. EH&S will deliver the cabinet to you as well.

Improper segregation of chemicals
Sort and store chemicals by compatible characteristic. Incompatibles should be separated by sufficient distance, a wall, or a berm. An easy to follow guide is included in the back of the UTHealth Chemical Safety manual, or call EH&S for assistance.

Common Problems and Solutions for Labs Using Radioactivity

Failure to perform or document wipe tests
Wipe tests must be performed and documented at least monthly in labs using or storing radioactive materials. An easy way to ensure compliance is to make 12 survey forms at the beginning of the year and to complete the document along with the survey each month.

Radioactive material contamination in laboratories
An easy way to control contamination is to use absorbent paper and perform a brief post-work survey of both yourself and your work area after each procedure

Radiation Safety Manual or records not available
The Radiation Safety Manual and related documents can be stored in the Radiation Safety Binder for ready access. Contact EHS for extra copies if needed.

Radiation safety training for lab personnel not completed or not documented
Contact EHS for the next scheduled radiation safety training class or to arrange for a special session for your lab. Remember to ensure that all new hires are trained and to keep a record of any additional safety training provided within your unit. Training documents should be kept in the lab safety binder for easy reference.

Eating or drinking in laboratories
To minimize the possibility of ingesting radioactive materials, food and drink should be consumed in available break areas only, not in the lab.