Safety Specialists from the EHS office will perform annual inspections of all areas where Case Western Reserve University employees work to ensure that personnel are performing their duties safely, and also to make sure that, in the event of an accident, appropriate precautions are in place to mitigate injuries to people and damage to property and the environment. Laboratory inspections are especially important because of the high concentration of chemical, biological, and radioactive materials that are used in laboratory spaces, along with the increased chance that people can be harmed in the event of an accident or exposure to some material.
The laboratory inspection criteria document has been provided to assist laboratory personnel before, during, and after the inevitable laboratory inspection. This document will outline all the items that the inspector will check and what is expected of the laboratory and the personnel working in the laboratory.
Here is what you and your staff should expect during a typically laboratory inspection:
- If personnel are present in the laboratory, the EHS safety officer should introduce themselves and inform you that they will be performing an inspection. If no one is in the laboratory, the EHS specialist will proceed with the inspection.
- A laboratory member may accompany the inspector during the process; however, this is not required. Although, a laboratory member should be available should the inspector want to discuss any issues.
- The inspector will look through all 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. Any 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 dangers which must be remedied immediately. These violations will still be noted as already being corrected on the inspection report.
- Imminent danger is defined as any condition or practice which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately if the hazard is not eliminated. Some 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 (improper technique, using chemical fume hoods that are mal-functioning).
- Obstructed eyewash and/or safety shower station.
- Sharps (razor blades, scalpels, needles, etc) left unattended on table tops or in any open area where someone can be hurt.
- Trip hazards on floor (electrical cords, open drawers and cabinets, bottles on floor).
- Obstruction of egress.
- Personnel not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Improper storage of compressed gas cylinders.
- 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.
- By signing and returning this form, the PI is stating that he/she has inspected the laboratory and confirmed that all deficiencies were corrected.
If the requirements for correcting a deficiency are not understood or a there is doubt about the merit of a deficiency, the safety specialist whose name is listed on the report should be contacted. They will attempt to clarify the 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.
Self Laboratory Inspections
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. The laboratory self-inspection form is available for this purpose; the laboratory inspection criteria can also be used as a guideline to performing the inspection.