Laboratory Inspection Information
Laboratory inspections are conducted by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) staff at all University campuses to help ensure a safe work environment for faculty, students and staff and to assist laboratories in complying with federal, state and institutional requirements. EH&S uses the information obtained during inspections to help focus resources to reduce risk and develop and implement strategies that will increase compliance with state, federal and institutional requirements.
The type and number of inspections conducted will depend on the materials handled or stored in the lab area. General lab safety inspections will be conducted for ALL lab areas. All inspections will cover compliance items such as lab access, local ventilation, general housekeeping, hazardous material management, fire, electrical, emergency contact posting, PPE, training, etc. Depending upon the materials in the lab additional inspections will occur in the following areas:
- Biological Safety
- Chemical Safety
- Hazardous Waste
- Radiation Safety
- Laser Safety
- Controlled Substances
What to Expect
- EH&S staff will contact you to schedule an inspection. It is always preferred to have someone familiar with the space, protocols and procedures present during the inspection.
- EH&S staff will conduct a walk-through of your lab space. The EH&S inspector will take the time to ask questions to obtain a better understanding of the work conducted in your area and to offer any suggestions to improve lab safety.
- EH&S staff will review training certificates, standard operating procedures (SOPs), chemical inventory, emergency procedures, waste manifests and any other required documentation for your lab.
- EH&S staff will complete the inspection checklist(s) and discuss any safety concerns observed and possible corrective actions.
- EH&S staff is here to help you maintain a safe lab and remain compliant with regulations. Take this opportunity to ask questions, voice your safety concerns and find out about available resources.
- After the inspection is completed, you will receive via email, a copy of the observed violations, corrective actions required and timeframe for completion of corrective actions.
Each type of violation is assigned a timeframe based on its severity:
Critical – imminent danger to health, safety, or environment; immediate stoppage of activities until the violation is corrected and approved by lab management.
Serious – serious hazard to health, safety or environment if left uncorrected; 48 hours to correct the violation.
Moderate – no immediate risk to health, safety, or environment, but is a compliance issue (training records, MSDS, labeling); 2 weeks to correct the violation.
Minor - no immediate risk to health, safety, or environment (general signage, housekeeping); 30 days to correct the violation.
Common Lab Safety Violations
These are the top 10 common safety violations observed during EH&S inspections:
- Required safety training not completed or not up to date.
- Training certificates not available for review.
- Chemical inventory not completed or not available for review.
- Chemicals stored alphabetically, and not by classification.
- Chemical fume hoods used for storage.
- Emergency contact information not posted on lab entrance door.
- Not wearing proper or any personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Lab door propped open with no occupants present.
- Emergency procedures not posted.
- Improper labeling, storage or disposal of hazardous waste.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am a new researcher. Can I request EH&S to conduct an unofficial walkthrough of my lab space?
Yes, EH&S is your resource and team member. To schedule a walk-through, call EH&S at 348-2621.
Do I need EH&S approval to work with certain materials?
Yes, approval is required for radioactive materials, rDNA, controlled substances and RG-2 pathogens.
How often are labs inspected?
Lab areas are inspected a minimum of 1X/year.
What happens if you find something wrong?
The issue will be verbally communicated to lab staff. If the issue is not addressed while EH&S staff is present, it will be recorded on the inspection form and followed up upon to ensure corrective actions were taken.
Will the violation still be documented if it is corrected during the inspection?
Yes, but it will be noted on the checklist that the violation was corrected at the time of the inspection.
What if I cannot correct the violation within the given time frame? Will EH&S work with me?
Yes, EH&S will work with the laboratory to establish a work plan to correct the violations.
Is there any type of escalation for uncorrected deficiencies?
Yes. If the deficiencies are not corrected within the designated time frame AND the responsible Principal Investigator (PI) has not shown any effort in correcting the deficiency, notification will be sent to the supervisor, Department Chair and FIU Safety Committees.
How do I provide feedback regarding lab inspections in my lab?
Does everyone in the lab need to complete safety training?
Yes, per the OSHA Lab Standard 29 CFR 1910.1450, everyone in a lab setting is required to complete safety training.
How do I know what safety training courses I need to complete?
Do I need to take the safety training if I am the PI?
Yes. If you are working in your lab area and with hazardous materials, you are required to complete the safety training courses. If you are not working in the lab or handling hazardous materials, EH&S still suggests completing the training courses to be familiar with compliance and safety requirements.
I inherited some containers, and I don’t know what is in them. What should I do?
Contact the Environmental Compliance Coordinator for a hazardous waste evaluation at 348-2622. If disposal is required, complete the hazardous waste pick-up form located on the electronic chemical inventory database (EH&S Assistant).
How do I discard my hazardous waste?
For chemical and bio hazardous (including sharps) waste, complete the pick-up request form by clicking here to go to Login to EH&S Assistant. Once there, click on Login to EH&S Assistant for the Chemical Waste Pickup Request electronic form.
For radioactive waste, contact the Radiation Safety Officer at 348-0489.
REMINDER: Universal waste (batteries, used oil, oil rags, car batteries, etc.) is not processed through the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program. Please contact Vehicle Services (car batteries, used oil, oil rags) or the Office of Sustainability (batteries) for these items.
Can I obtain more waste containers from EH&S?
No. EH&S does not provide waste containers.
I have a lot of empty glass chemical bottles. What should I do with them?
Deface or remove any labels on the empty bottles and discard the bottles into the dumpster. DO NOT leave empty chemical bottles on or near the loading dock. If you have any questions, contact the Environmental Compliance Coordinator at 348-2622.
Does EH&S provide broken glass containers and what do I do when they are full?
No. EH&S does not provide broken glass containers. When the containers are full, seal the top of the container with tape and place the container in the dumpster. DO NOT leave the container on or near the loading dock.