EH&S staff were notified of a chemical spill on August 2, 2017, during which a waste bottle ruptured in secondary containment bin, spilling about 3 liters of liquid. The lab was evacuated and a hazardous material team cleaned up the chemicals and shattered glass.
The ruptured 4 liter glass bottle was manufactured for chemical waste storage and disposal purposes, and reportedly contained a mixture of organic solvents. EH&S staff noted that the hazardous waste label was incomplete and the actual contents were unknown.
During National Biosafety Month, you are encouraged to focus attention on biosafety policies, practices and procedures. Investigators and laboratory managers should raise biosafety awareness, discuss the importance of safety, and seek input on ways to strengthen biosafety practices and procedures in their labs. This year, EH&S is focusing on sharps safety in research and exposure response.
It’s time again for the biannual Health and Safety Committee (HSC) elections. HSC members are an important component of the University’s total safety program. Nominations are now open for the next two-year committee term, which will begin on January 1, 2018. Don’t miss your chance to nominate a coworker or become a committee member yourself!
Environmental Programs, a section of EH&S, offers laboratories a system to recycle mercury thermometers. The mercury thermometer swap program is a valuable resource that supplies our research community with an environmentally safe option.
Broken mercury thermometers account for almost half of the spills that occur each year on the UW campus. A broken mercury thermometer wastes time and money. A lab risks loss of lab equipment, research and time due to mercury spills.
Environmental Programs collects and disposes of hazardous waste from more than 3,000 laboratory spaces. To request a free* hazardous waste collection, use the online Chemical Waste Collection Request form.
EH&S has published a new guidance sheet focused on working safely with dry ice. This useful resource reviews the hazards and appropriate precautions that should be used with dry ice, commonly used for the shipment of specimens and during power outages.
EH&S has developed a new Accident Prevention Plan (APP) for University of Washington employees with the exception of employees working at UW Medicine UW Medical Center or Harborview. This document replaces the template for Departmental Health and Safety Plans, and covers general health and safety information applicable to all employees. All employers in Washington State are required to have an APP that details the occupational hazards present in their work environment and how their employees are protected from these hazards.
The Employee Health Center provides scheduled preventive health care for UW employees who are at higher risk for occupational exposures to potentially hazardous materials. We provide physical exams, screenings, vaccinations and medical surveillance for personnel working in high risk areas, such as research labs, animal care centers, clinical settings and the UW Police Department.
EH&S staff had an opportunity to speak with compliance inspector Chad Fisher from the Washington State Department of Ecology regarding three of the most common hazardous waste violations he's encountered at the UW. As it turns out, the majority of these violations are easily preventable and making simple corrections contributes to a safer lab environment.