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Standard Operating Procedures

​This portion of the Laboratory Safety Manual represents an initial minimum set of guidelines for experimentation in UHD laboratories.


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General Guidelines​

Every PI, staff member and student must be aware of the following general guidelines.

  • Students working in laboratories must be under the supervision of a PI and only UHD employees, students and approved visitors are allowed in UHD laboratories.
  • The safety guidelines mustalways be applied to any experiments being performed.
  • There should be training on the location and the appropriate use of fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, emergency showers, fire exits, evacuation routes and fire alarm pull stations.
  • There should be training on the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) available and how to use it appropriately. 
  • Equipment must be in good working order before conducting and experiment (no error messages of equipment, glassware is not chipped or broken, etc.)
  • Equipment can only be used if the experimenter has appropriate training and may only be used as directed.
  • Experiments that can be left safely unattended for any length of time must be properly identified with a posted sign that notifies the reader of the contact person, cell phone number, and any hazards or considerations of the experiment. 
  • Hazardous materials will be used with caution and only with proof of proper training.  Very hazardous materials, such as carcinogens, reproductive toxins and chemicals with a high degree of acute toxicity, will not be purchased or used without prior written approval from the CSO. The CSO must weigh the need for conducting operations using these type chemicals with the degree of risk of exposure to staff and students. If the risk outweighs the need, the CSO shall deny the request.  Students may be denied approval to work hazardous materials by the CSO.  Hazardous materials can only be used for their intended purpose.
  • If an injury occurs in the lab that requires medical attention, call 911 or 713-221-8911 immediately.  All injuries or near misses must be reported to the NS office (room N813 in the One Main Building) immediately. Students and visitors will also have to complete a Student Visitor Accident Report Form (docx).
  • If exposed to a toxic/hazardous material, immediately consult and enact decontamination procedures as outlined in the appropriate MSDS or other safety document.


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Students Working After Hours or Alone​

Working in laboratories between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday is defined as working “during regular hours.”  Working in laboratories between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. is defined as working “after hours.” Undergraduate research students or students in courses which require after-hours work will need to have their faculty member complete the Student Permission to Work Independently After Hours Form (PDF).  This must be approved prior to beginning work.

Policies for Student Independent Research Work in the Laboratory

A student may use laboratory facilities for independent research only after the PI in charge has reviewed the experimental procedure for any associated hazards and has determined that the student possesses adequate training in proper experimental and emergency procedures. Students will be given a copy of the Project Hazard Assessment form (PHA) filled out by his/her PI which describes the procedures and hazards associated with working in this particular lab.  Students must sign the PHA and are responsible for performing all their work in accordance with those procedures. Students must report all accidents, chemical spills, and unsafe conditions to the PI who is responsible for making sure proper paperwork is completed as necessary. Students working with chemicals or biohazards must also satisfactorily complete safety training.

Students must have a completed and approved Student Permission to Work Independently After Hours Form(PDF) prior to working after hours in a laboratory. The permission form must be completed and on file in the NS office. If the after-hours work involves the use of chemicals or biological hazards, the permission form must also indicate that safety training has been successfully completed.  The CSO is ultimately responsible for any laboratory activity which presents a foreseeable hazard to employees, students or structures. As such, the CSO may not grant approval for after-hour student work that involves a hazardous or potentially dangerous situation.

Policies for Students Enrolled in Laboratory Courses

Students enrolled in laboratory sections of a course are allowed to perform laboratory procedures alone only when the PI or instructor authorizes that this is acceptable.  When working in the laboratory during regular hours, students must be under the direction of a qualified person – a PI or course instructor who is familiar with emergency procedures. Properly directed students can work in a laboratory course outside of the regular laboratory periods (but during regular hours) only with the permission of the instructor.  The instructor is responsible for ensuring that the students receive sufficient instruction to work safely under these circumstances. Students enrolled in a laboratory course may not work after-hours unless authorized by the CSO with an accompanying Student Permission to Work Independently After Hours Form(PDF) form on file in the NS office.


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Emergency and Safety Equipment

Eyewash/Safety Showers

Emergency eyewash stations are located in the UHD chemical and microbiological laboratories on the 8th and 9th floors of One Main Building only.  (There are surge hoses that will be used as a safety shower for other laboratories.)  Eyewash stations should be kept free of any obstruction which might inhibit their use.  Eyewash stations should be tested on a monthly basis to verify the units are in proper working order and to flush the lines of stale water and debris. EHS is responsible for ensuring these stations are checked. Documentation of the time, date and the person’s name that performed the check shall be kept.

Fire Extinguishers and First Aid Kits

Each laboratory will be equipped with fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Everyone working in a laboratory should know how to properly use the extinguisher. Fire extinguishers shall be mounted on an interior lab wall in a highly visible and accessible area. Each extinguisher will be checked on an annual basis to ensure it is in good working order. First aid kits must be checked by the PI during regular equipment checks.


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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Personal Safety

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is any item designed to protect laboratory personnel from exposures and injury. The PI is responsible for the selection, procurement, care and replacement of all PPE. PPE should never be worn outside of the laboratory.

Appropriate Clothing

Closed-toe shoes must be worn in all laboratories. The PI will instruct all laboratory personnel on the use of all mandatory PPE for use in a particular laboratory and for particular experiments. It is recommended that employees and students wear clothing that minimizes exposed skin surfaces. When a lab coat is used, it should be worn over street clothes. Lab coats are intended to prevent contact with dirt, chemical dusts and minor chemical splashes or spills.  If they become contaminated, they should immediately be removed and the affected skin surface washed thoroughly. Sandals or open-toed shoes may not be worn in laboratories.  Long hair must be tied-back.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is required for all personnel and any visitors present in locations where chemical splash hazards exist. Safety glasses, goggles and full face shields are the three main types of eye protection. Safety goggles should be worn in situations where bulk quantities of chemicals are being handled and chemical splash to the face is possible.   Goggles and full face shields should be worn when handling highly reactive substances or large quantities of hazardous chemicals, corrosives, poisons and hot chemicals. All eye protection should meet the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard, Z87-1.  Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will list the recommended PPE for use with each chemical.

Glass Tubing

When inserting tubing into stoppers, lubricate tubing and wear gloves to protect hands from being cut in the event of the tubing breaking.


Gloves are essential when working with hazardous substances.  The proper gloves will prevent skin absorption, infection or burns. Chemical resistant gloves should be worn whenever the potential for contact with corrosive or toxic substances and substances of unknown toxicity exists.  Glove selection should depend on the type chemical being handled, the particular hazard involved, and the glove’s suitability for the operation being conducted. Before each use, gloves should be checked for integrity. Non-disposable gloves should be replaced periodically, depending on frequency of use and their resistance to the substances being handled. Disposable gloves should be worn when working with biohazards.  All gloves should be removed prior to touching keyboards, phones, door knobs and other surfaces and should not be worn outside of the laboratory.  After glove removal, hands should be washed before leaving the laboratory.

Respiratory Protection

Inhalation hazards can be controlled using ventilation or respiratory protection. Check the chemical label and MSDS for information on a substance’s inhalation hazard and special ventilation requirements. When a potential inhalation hazard exists, the label or MSDS will contain special warnings. Take appropriate precautions when handling these substances. Controlling inhalation exposures through engineering controls (ventilation) is always the preferred method. As with other PPE, respiratory protection relies heavily on employee work practices and training to be effective.  UHD does not use any chemicals at this time requiring the use of a respirator. In the future, if it becomes necessary to use chemicals requiring respirators, a Respiratory Protection Program will need to be put in place before the chemical can be introduced into the lab or any other area of the University.


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Laboratory Behavior

Professional behavior is expected at all times in the laboratory. No unauthorized persons, including children, shall be allowed in the laboratory. No food or drinks are ever allowed in the laboratory. All laboratory work areas must be kept clean and clear of obstructions and clutter. Floors must be kept dry and aisles shall remain clear of boxes or other items that could be trip hazards. All laboratory wastes shall be kept in appropriate containers and labeled accordingly. If large amounts of trash require disposal, Facilities Management should be contacted immediately. Violations will not be tolerated and will result in the removal of the offender from the laboratory.


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Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)​

MSDS sheets should be the first source of information about the hazards associated with any chemical. Manufacturers are required to provide an MSDS for each chemical product they sell. All laboratory personnel will have access to MSDS sheets in their laboratory via the internet or hardcopy. A backup copy of all MSDS sheets will be housed in the chemical stock room.

MSDS sheets should contain the following information:

  • Name, address and phone number of the manufacturer
  • Chemical name, synonyms, and Chemical Abstract Number (CAS)
  • Physical properties
  • Health hazard information (most MSDSs use NFPA or HMIS hazard ratings)
  • First aid measures
  • Firefighting measures
  • Handling and storage precautions
  • Exposure controls/personal protection
  • Stability and reactivity

Most MSDS sheets will also contain the following information:

  • Toxicological information
  • Ecological information
  • Disposal consideration
  • Transport information
  • Regulatory information

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Hazard Assessments​

Before any task involving hazardous materials or physical hazards is performed, the PI must have completed the Project Hazard Assessment (PHA) form for the project, and:

  • The PHS  must have been approved by the NS Safety Committee and have all signatures (PI, NS Safety Committee Representative, Chair, Dean and EH&S Manager). 
  • The PHA should include Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for dealing with any listed hazards. 
  • The NS Safety Committee, Chair, Dean or EH&S Manager may reject a PHA if it is determined that it has not been completed sufficiently or if it is judged that the experiment is too hazardous to be completed at UHD.
  • The PHA should not be limited to chemical hazards, but should also include biological hazards, heat and cold hazards, physical hazards and hazards exposed to in the field.


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Last updated 11/13/2019 3:21 AM