Laboratory Safety

The Laboratory Safety program oversees safety and compliance in all UW research and teaching laboratory spaces to reduce the risk of injury and exposure, decrease the risk of property loss, lessen the likelihood of lost research, and minimize environmental damage.

Laboratory safety practices include appropriate facilities and equipment, adequate training, personal protective equipment, chemical management, standard operating procedures, waste handling, signage, proper laboratory practices and safe working conditions. Laboratory safety helps protect the UW community of students, faculty, staff and visitors, and includes oversight for compliance and safety, training and outreach, institutional support for incident response, building design, and collaboration with UW committees.

You can find detailed information about laboratory safety practices in the UW Laboratory Safety Manual including state regulations, UW policies and safe work practices. The manual in addition to laboratory-specific safety documents serve as a chemical hygiene plan, which establishes procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment, and work practices to protect employees from the health hazards of the chemicals used in the laboratory.

Laboratory safety inspections

Laboratory safety inspections are routinely performed by EH&S safety professionals for all research and teaching laboratories and are scheduled by EH&S for each room meeting the definition of a lab in a building or complex (in the case of Health Sciences and UW Bothell).

The Laboratory Safety Inspection team routinely visits over 4,000 lab rooms (about 1,000 research and teaching groups) on the Seattle, South Lake Union, Friday Harbor and Bothell campuses, as well as labs located in off-site or leased buildings (e.g., Roosevelt, Harborview, Queen Anne, SODO).

Inspection-related tools and resources

What you can do to stay safe

More Information

Laboratory Safety Equipment

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Biological safety cabinets

Biological safety cabinets (BSCs) are used to protect personnel, products and the environment from exposure to biohazards and cross contamination. BSCs are inspected and serviced annually by EH&S safety professionals. To learn more about safe practices and how BSCs work, watch this video from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For more information about BSCs, see Biological Safety Cabinets.


Fume hoods

Fume hoods are a primary method of exposure control in the laboratory. A fume hood is a ventilated enclosure that usually vents separately from the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system and not recirculated into the building. Fume hoods should be used when working with toxic compounds or compounds with a boiling point below 120°C. Fume hoods, or other effective local ventilation, must be provided and used when the materials used will exceed exposure limits in the laboratory. Fume hoods are inspected and serviced annually by EH&S safety professionals. For more information about fume hoods, see Fume Hoods: Use, Inspection and Maintenance.


Other safety equipment

Laboratory safety equipment includes engineering controls, eyewashes, showers, and fire extinguishers. EH&S professionals do an annual check of these items to ensure they are adequately maintained and routinely tested.

Services available

The Laboratory Safety program provides the following additional services:

  • Consultations about lab safety practices

To request a consultation, email Refer to the Laboratory Safety Manual for detailed information on lab safety practices.


Contact the Lab Safety Team at or call 206.685.3993.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

EH&S performs lab inspections on a schedule and annually evaluates all research and teaching labs. The inspection schedule generally does not allow for additional inspections. 

PIs are encouraged to notify EH&S when setting up a new lab or moving to a new location so they can be added to the inspection schedule for their building. Consultation can be provided at that time if requested.

Keep in mind that a lab can conduct a self-inspection at any time.