4.19 Research Area Inspections4.19 Research Area Inspections
Laboratories and other research areas are regulated by OSHA laboratory safety standards and general industry regulations, EPA and DEC hazardous waste regulations, DOH regulations, NFPA life and fire safety standards, and building codes. Additionally, accreditation and granting agencies such as CDC, NIH, and USDA are increasing scrutiny over researchers and their compliance with state and federal laws. To assist researchers to be in compliance with these regulations and standards, Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) will conduct required inspections of all campus research areas.
The purpose of the inspections is to assist responsible faculty and staff members in identifying and correcting potential regulatory compliance issues or other issues that could affect granting activities, and identify potential health and safety hazards that could pose an unreasonable risk to laboratory personnel, students, and the campus community. To facilitate the correction of deficient items, a corrective action process has been implemented and will be tracked. EHS will schedule inspections by working with college-level contacts, Department Safety Representatives, Building Coordinators and staff throughout the colleges, departments, and buildings.
Research areas are strongly encouraged to conduct their own self inspections prior to EHS conducting an inspection of their research area to address any potential issues before the EHS inspection and to provide a training opportunity for research staff. To facilitate the self inspection process, EHS is providing research areas with the following self inspection checklist and explanation key which identify the same topics covered during an EHS inspection.
4.19.1 Self Inspections4.19.1 Self Inspections
An important part of any research safety program is implementation of self inspections. Self inspections provide a number of useful benefits and further help to create a culture of safety within the lab. Benefits of self inspections include:
- Raising the level of awareness of laboratory personnel and determining the level of compliance with state and federal regulations.
- Identifying and addressing any potential issues before an inspection by a state or federal regulatory agency.
- Providing an opportunity for lab specific training by identifying potential issues within the lab and then training lab personnel to look for these issues.
- Serving as a regular health and safety check of laboratory facilities.
- Serving as an outlet for faculty, staff, and student concerns.
- EHS recommends the following frequency for self inspections:
- On a daily basis lab personnel should maintain good housekeeping within their lab.
- Informal weekly lab walkthroughs or “Friday afternoon cleanups”.
- Ideally, self inspections should occur once per month. These could include participation of research staff, DSRs, and/or safety committee members, and use of an inspection checklist.
- At least once per semester research personnel should perform a formal self inspection utilizing the EHS self-inspection checklist and explanation key.
The benefits of conducting inspections of laboratories on a regular basis cannot be overstated. In addition to providing for a healthier and safer work environment, lab inspections can reduce legal liability by identifying potential issues, and training lab personnel to look for and correct potential issues.
4.19.2 Inspections by Regulatory Agencies4.19.2 Inspections by Regulatory Agencies
Inspections by state and federal regulatory agencies can occur at any time and can result in citations and significant fires for the university. The best way to be prepared for these inspections is to understand what regulations apply to your area and what you need to do to comply with those regulations. You can obtain this information from resources such as this Laboratory Safety Manual, by conducting your own self inspections, and by calling EHS at 607-255-8200. You can find additional information on the EHS web page on what to do during an OSHA inspection and what to do during an EPA inspection.
If a state or federal inspector shows up in your work area unescorted, ask them to please wait and contact EHS immediately at 607-255-8200.