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Appendix E - Lab Move Guide

The information here provides general guidance to those laboratory personnel preparing to move their laboratory work to another site. Contact Environmental Health and Safety at 607-255-8200 for assistance. Additional guidance can be found in the latest version of the ANSI Z9.11 Laboratory Decommissioning.

General Considerations: 

  • Inform the Department Safety Representative (DSR) and facility coordinator to provide guidance on expectations. Your DSR can help provide useful information and resources to help facilitate the moving process.
  • When cleaning up your lab, ensure all items are removed from the lab (or scheduled to be removed), including items in drawers, cabinets, fume hoods, refrigerators, freezers, etc. Be considerate of custodial staff and maintenance staff who do not understand the nature of the lab work your group conducted. Surplus equipment, tables, cabinets, etc. that you plan on discarding, check with your DSR to see if these items should remain in the lab you are leaving or if they could be donated to someone else in your department.
  • During the move egress points must be maintained. Do not store items in hallways or stairwells. Work with the movers and facility coordinators. No hazardous materials (chemical, biological, or radiological) may be left in the hallways unattended at any time.
  • Ensure all potentially contaminated surfaces have been cleaned with water and detergent thoroughly. This includes bench tops, fume hoods, storage cabinets and drawers (both inside and outside), shelving, and the outside of large equipment that is scheduled to be moved by a moving company. Clean out refrigerators and freezers and defrost freezers.
  • Do not move hazardous waste, regulated medical waste or radiological wastes. Submit a pickup request to EHS: Waste Pickups
  • Update your standard operating procedures and HASP door signage. If you have any questions or need assistance, contact your DSR or
  • At the completion of your move, return all keys to the old facility to your current DSR and provide them with your contact information at your new facility in case questions arise during laboratory renovation of your old facility.


  • Before preparing to move chemicals, update the chemical inventory. This will aid in making decisions about what is expired or degraded and should be sent to EHS as hazardous waste. 
  • Only move those chemicals that will be needed for your research at the new facility or those chemicals you expect to use in the near future. For those chemicals that are in good condition, contact your DSR to see if anyone in your department could use them. All other chemicals must be disposed of as hazardous waste. 
  • Chemicals should be moved between facilities only by trained individuals. Any highly toxic, highly hazardous or reactive chemicals should only be moved by staff who has received special training. When moving highly toxic or highly hazardous chemicals, EHS recommends a "buddy system" be used in the event of a spill or other emergency.
  • When transporting chemicals, it is best to use carts with lips or trays to prevent containers from being knocked off. Other items that are useful for transport include rubber bottle carriers, five gallon pails, or other forms of secondary containment.
  • When moving chemicals, wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as safety glasses or splash goggles, lab coat, and gloves. Remove gloves when touching door knobs and latches, and elevator buttons. If possible, avoid using passenger elevators. If you must use a passenger elevator, request that no passengers ride along with you.

Compressed Gas Cylinders:

  • Make arrangements for the removal of any compressed gas cylinders that will no longer be used or for any empty cylinders. If you need assistance having the cylinders removed, contact your DSR or facility coordinator.
  • Before moving any compressed gas cylinders, remove the regulator and replace the safety cap over the cylinder valve. Only use an appropriate cylinder handcart to move compressed gas cylinders. Do not attempt to "roll" cylinders from one area to another.
  • Any compressed cylinders containing highly toxic or highly reactive gases should only be moved by staff with special training in the use and hazards of these materials.
  • Do not leave compressed gas cylinders unsecured for any period of time, even temporarily. Any new gas distribution systems, using metal or plastic tubing, must be pressure tested (leak tested) before use.

 Biohazardous Materials:

  • All biohazardous materials must be properly packaged and only moved by properly trained laboratory staff. Non-laboratory personnel (including moving company staff) or untrained laboratory personnel are not permitted to move biohazardous materials.
  • Biosafety Cabinet (BSC) must be thoroughly decontaminated, both the inside and outside of the cabinet. The BSC will have to be recertified by a third party vendor if it is moved to another location.  Check with the manufacturers guidelines before moving your BSC.

Radioactive Materials:

NOTE: All of the following steps must be coordinated through one of the EHS staff members from the Radiation Safety Group. Please keep in mind that advance notification of your planned move is required.

  • No space may be occupied for the use of radioisotopes until the area has been setup by EHS Radiation Safety staff. Contact Environmental Health and Safety at 607-255-8200 for more information.
  • Any equipment to be handled by movers and not by laboratory staff must be certified as contamination free before the equipment is moved.
  • Only properly trained staff may move radioactive materials and small equipment used with radioactive materials. All materials must be properly packaged and shielded.
  • All vacated rooms must be certified as contamination free before they are turned over to custodians, maintenance workers, or new lab occupants. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Radiation Safety Group at 607-255-8200 for more information. 

Decommissioning Facilities and Equipment:

Laboratory renovations may require more formal decommissioning procedures of both facilities and equipment depending on the extent of renovation and the past use of the room and/or facility. The purpose of decommissioning procedures includes:

  • Decommissioning labs require standardized processes, strategies, and validation methods for screening and characterization of hazardous debris and other regulated waste streams and for compliance with hazardous waste regulations.
  • Strategies to minimize generation of regulated wastes, to encourage on on-site treatment, and decontamination technologies and to maximize recycling/recovery of materials from biological/chemical must also be considered.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of decontamination and recycling versus disposal without decontamination.

Areas and materials of concern for decommissioning of facilities and equipment include:

  • Asbestos containing materials – floor tiles, insulation, fireproofing, fume hood panels
  • Chemical and biological contamination and/or spills
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Fume hoods
  • Biological Safety Cabinets (HEPA filters)
  • Gas cylinders and lecture bottles
  • Lead shielding
  • Mercury sources – sink traps, thermometers, switches, etc.
  • PCBs – window caulking, transformers, ballasts, etc.
  • Reaction chambers
  • RCRA heavy metals
  • Unknown chemicals
  • Vacuum pumps
  • …and other materials and equipment

Specific roles and responsibilities for decommissioning activities include:

EHS roles/responsibilities:

  • Provide technical guidance on expectations of the decommissioning or moving of equipment and facilities and hazardous waste disposal

  • Ensure compliance with EHS laws, regulations, policies and guidelines
  • Provide continual review of project decommissioning as new information is obtained
  • Perform or review appropriate risk assessments

Research staff members roles/responsibilities:

  • Communicate needs and concerns with lab and equipment decommissioning
  • Provide to EHS with historical use of biohazardous materials, radioactive materials, and hazardous chemical usage for decontamination analysis
  • Segregate chemicals in accordance to the compatibility and pack them into a sturdy container/box for transportation. EHS can provide research groups with information and assistance with segregation and proper packaging of hazardous chemicals
  • Clean work and storage surfaces with soap and water, with special attention given to areas with visible decontamination.
  • Identify biological/chemical contaminated area(s) that they cannot be cleaned by researchers and work with EHS to facilitate decontamination of these area(s)