Research Laboratory Surveys, Inspections, and Audits

Many groups may visit your laboratory depending upon the type of research being conducted. This web page provides a list and brief description of internal safety units and outside agencies that may survey, inspect or audit your laboratory.

Laboratory Safety Surveys - (~1000 labs served) EH&S’s Laboratory Safety Survey Team periodically conducts general lab safety surveys in lab spaces on main campuses, as well as labs located in offsite or leased buildings. These surveys are typically scheduled with PIs and lab managers, take about 40 minutes to conduct, and occur about every 16 months. This is the survey that will be used to track the progress of the Lab Safety Initiative and generate the lab safety performance rating. LSI pilot labs will experience more frequent surveys through June, 2018.

Chemical Waste Collections - (~1000 labs served) EH&S has authority and responsibility for management of the collection, transport, temporary storage, and disposal of regulated wastes, including the recycling of solvents, redistribution of unused chemicals, and waste minimization techniques. EH&S has all responsibility for collection of hazardous waste for the University, all its campuses and offsite locations. While this service is not a safety survey or inspection, EH&S technicians may give feedback to you on waste management practices while performing the collection.

Safety Equipment Inspections - (~1000 labs served) EH&S performs periodic inspections of laboratory safety equipment (eyewashes, showers, biological safety cabinets, fume hoods, and autoclaves) to verify the equipment has been inspected on the required schedule.   The status of the inspections are provided to the Department as a summary report to the Chair and Building Coordinator/Manager.

Radiation Surveys - (~500 labs served) Radiation Safety staff will survey your labs, in addition to the monthly surveys you are required to do, to satisfy Department of Health requirements for administrative oversight. However, these surveys are conducted relatively infrequently. (How often??)

Biological Use Authorization Surveys - (~400 labs served) When applying for a new BUA or the renewal of an existing one, a Biosafety Officer will inspect your laboratory to confirm to the Institutional Biosafety Committee that your laboratory and practices are in compliance with the bio-containment requirements for your research. Deficiencies must be corrected prior to Biological Use Authorization. When projects with biological agents are approved, they will receive an expiration date. Approvals will generally be given for a three year period or concurrent with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocol expiration.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Inspections - The Office of Animal Welfare facilitates the IACUC review of research protocols and grants involving live vertebrate animals. In addition, the OAW provides oversight and compliance on behalf of the IACUC in accordance with applicable laws, policies, and regulations. The IACUC is required to perform an inspection of all sites where animals are housed or used every 6 months. These inspections are typically scheduled with PIs and lab managers two months in advance of the visit.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Surveys - UW’s ESCRO Committee exists to review and approve research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The ESCRO Committee review ensures that both institutional and public concerns regarding sensitive ethical, legal, scientific, and policy issues unique to hESC research are addressed. An annual survey is a vehicle that the ESCRO office will use to collect real-time information from PIs regarding hESC lines for administrative purposes only. The ESCRO Compliance Analyst will email annual surveys to PIs.

Human Subjects Division Reviews - Research that involves the use of human subjects (either directly or through records or other data such as specimens or autopsy materials), requires human subjects review prior to beginning such a project. The Human Subjects Division (HSD) is responsible for the administration of Institutional Review Board (IRB) activities and oversight of human research protections activities such as educational programs and post-approval monitoring. Frequency of site visits depends on the nature of the research being done.

Shop Safety Surveys (~ 65 spaces served) - EH&S will perform a shop safety survey periodically at a frequency of 12-24 months using a standardized checklist. The survey requires the participation of the shop safety coordinator and will typically take less than one hour. Approximately 35 shops are associated with academic research at UW, and some are connected to laboratories.

Fire Safety Surveys - The Fire Safety Survey program conducts periodic fire and life safety surveys in over 250 buildings on the Seattle and Bothell campuses, SLU, Sandpoint, UW research stations, and other selected facilities. These surveys are scheduled with building coordinators or building management. Fire and life safety surveys evaluate public areas including hallways and stairwells, conference rooms, classrooms, storage areas, and mechanical rooms, and inspectors will usually not enter laboratory spaces. Frequency of these inspections varies from annually to every three years.

Seattle Fire Department Inspections - Local fire departments may perform periodic inspections of University buildings. These inspections are performed under the authority of the International Fire Code and may be unannounced. Fire department visits, where possible, should be accompanied by persons responsible for the facility, such as a building coordinator. For the main campus the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) conducts these inspections. EH&S Building and Fire Safety acts as the liaison between the UW and SFD. If notified and available, EH&S may also accompany SFD during their visit and can act as representative for the responsible person, if the responsible person is not available. These inspections are associated with permit issuance and revision.

Department of Ecology Inspections - Washington’s principal environmental protection agency conducts periodic inspections of University buildings and facilities to check compliance with state and federal environmental laws and rules aimed at protecting the environment. Department of Ecology visits, where possible, should be accompanied by persons responsible for the facility or work space, such as a building coordinator or lab supervisor. For the main campus, EH&S acts as the liaison between the UW and DoE, and notification of inspection will be received in advance. These inspections are associated with permit issuance and revision, as well as compliance.