Office of Research

5. Housekeeping, Maintenance, and Inspections

a.     Housekeeping 

  • In the laboratory and elsewhere, keeping things clean and organized helps provide a safer environment.
  • Poor housekeeping increases the likelihood that an accident will occur and increases the total potential damage when accidents do occur.
  • Keep drawers and cabinet doors closed and electrical cords off the floor to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Keep aisles clear of obstacles such as boxes, chemical containers, and other storage items that might be put there even temporarily.
  • Avoid slipping hazards by cleaning up spilled liquids promptly and keeping the floor clean.
  • Never block or even partially block the path to an exit or to safety equipment, such as a fire extinguisher or safety shower.
  • Put ordinary wastepaper in a wastepaper basket separate from chemical wastes or biohazardous wastes.
  • Broken glass and other sharp items shall be disposed of in rigid, puncture-resistant containers to protect persons collecting the waste materials. These containers must be properly labeled. They should never be filled to the point where any material is protruding, or so that the weight of the carton would present a lifting hazard. Check to ensure that the container is intact and sound before attempting to lift. Securely tape the container before depositing in the dumpster. Ensure that only clean (no contaminated) glass is deposited to these containers.
  • Even needles and syringes that are not contaminated should be placed in biohazard sharps containers provided by RS, so that they may be disposed of safely.
  • When discarding empty boxes or other containers bearing hazardous materials labels, the label shall be defaced or removed before disposal.
  • Contaminated boxes or other containers shall not be disposed of in the regular trash.

b.     Inspections

  • Housekeeping and lab safety self inspections should be performed by researchers, departmental safety personnel, or lab managers at least monthly for units that have frequent personnel changes and quarterly for others; informal inspections should be continual. (See Appendix H for an inspection checklist which can be used as a guide in performing inspections)
  • Eye wash stations must be inspected weekly. Inspection should include flushing each unit for a minimum of 3 minutes. Safety shower units should be inspected weekly, but must be inspected at least monthly. Safety showers should always be inspected immediately prior to using any highly corrosive chemical. Inspection of safety showers should include flushing each unit for 1-2 minutes or until water runs clear. Containers should be used to collect water from flushing of lines. A 55 gal. container on a wheeled-type canister with spout at the bottom is the best setup. Flushing water can be collected and released over a floor drain or outside. These inspections should be recorded on inspection tags on the equipment or inspection forms posted at or near the stations and should include the last date of inspection and initials of the inspector (keep at least 6 months inspection records available). If recording on inspection tags, ensure that they are not attached to the equipment in a position where they will be wet if the shower is activated. All laboratory personnel should be shown where the closest emergency drench equipment is located and instructed on operation and use by the PI or lab manager/supervisor.

c.     Passageways:  Stairways and hallways should not be used as storage areas. Access to exits, emergency equipment, and utility controls should never be blocked.