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Environmental Health & Safety


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  2. Personnel must be prepared to respond in the event of a fire, spill, or other situation requiring emergency action or evacuation.  Emergency management is utilized to provide the proper organization for the University to mitigate any incident utilizing the appropriate emergency responses and resources.  Special “Emergency 13” Flip Charts have been prepared and distributed to personnel to better manage emergency actions.  These “flip charts” are to be posted in each laboratory.  Additional copies are available through EH&S.  Red and white flipcharts are available for Medical Center locations while blue and white flipcharts are available for River Campus locations.

    1. Emergency Management Process
    2. For all emergencies call Public Safety (x13).

      Effective emergency management includes Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.  Depending upon the location of the emergency, the appropriate University Emergency Response Plan will be utilized.  These plans are available at

      1. Mitigation:  Designed to alleviate the effects of an incident or reduce the probability of the incident occurring.  Examples include compliance with building codes and regulations or substituting to a less hazardous product.
      2. Preparedness:  Preparedness and prevention activities are designed to prevent injuries and minimize damage.  Examples include inspections/audits of locations to identify potential issues that include minimizing the quantity of hazardous materials in laboratory areas, placing materials in storage after use, and establishing appropriate emergency shutdown procedures.
      3. Response: These activities are designed to provide emergency assistance to personnel and reduce the likelihood of secondary damage.  Should an emergency occur, lab staff should know and be prepared for emergency shut-down procedures for emergency evacuation.
      4. Recovery: Recovery is a short-term activity to return the area to normal or improved condition. Recovery planning should include a review of procedures to avoid future emergencies.
    3. Fires
    4. How you react to a fire can determine whether the incident remains controlled or escalates into an out of control situation.  Learn emergency procedures appropriate to your work area. Also know whether you work in a FIGHT or FLIGHT building. FIGHT buildings/areas are described as those where evacuation is not feasible or where, without immediate intervention, a fire could expand rapidly.  University designated fight buildings/areas are: Strong Memorial Hospital, the Medical School, Hutchison Hall, and LLE. For these locations, the building fire alarm systems must be activated prior to attempting to fight a small fire.  All others buildings are FLIGHT buildings where the most appropriate action in a fire situation is to activate the building fire alarm and evacuate immediately.  Regardless of the location, those who do not have the necessary training or confidence in fighting a fire should evacuate.  OSHA 29 CFR1910.157 states that only those who receive annual training on the use of a fire extinguisher should attempt to extinguish a fire. Those who do not receive this training at the University or through a fire department should evacuate.

      Before deciding to fight a fire, follow the acronym RACE:

      Rescue anyone in immediate danger and remove the person to a safe area.

      Activate the building fire alarm.  Then call Public Safety (x13) from a safe location to report the fire.

      Confine the fire by closing all doors, beginning with the door to the room of origin.

      Evacuate if the fire has spread beyond the point of origin, if the fire could block your exit, or if you are not sure how to use an extinguisher.   Extinguish the fire if you have activated the fire alarm and have received training on the use of a fire extinguisher, closed the doors, if the fire is small and contained, and you have a clear exit from the fire.

    5. Spills
      1. The following preplanning is required for working with highly toxic chemicals:
        1. Determine the potential location of releases.
        2. Determine the quantities of material that might be released.
        3. Know the chemical and hazards of the material (physical state, vapor pressure, air or water reactivity, toxicity, reactivity, corrosivity, flammability).
        4. Have appropriate spill kits for the hazardous materials used in the location.
        5. Have available the personal protective equipment that may be needed.
      2. Chemical spills are to be cleaned up immediately.  Some spills can create conditions that can lead to additional hazards.
      3. Spills can be classified as either a minor clean-up procedure or a major spill.  Minor spill, also called “Low Risk Spills”, do not expose laboratory employees to over-exposures but should be cleaned up immediately by the laboratory staff wearing the appropriate PPE.  A listing of chemicals falling under the category of “Low Risk Spills” can be found in Appendix 11 of this document.  In the event of a minor spill or “Low Risk Spill”, the following general procedures are to be followed:
        1. Survey the situation for the potential hazards present before approaching a spill area. If possible, attend to anyone who may have been contaminated.
        2. Notify persons in the immediate area about the spill.
        3. Evacuate non-essential personnel from the spill area.
        4. Close the door.
        5. Untrained laboratory personnel are not to clean up spills.
        6. If the spill material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources.
        7. Use the appropriate spill kit to absorb or neutralize the spilled material.
        8. Avoid breathing vapors of the spilled material.
        9. Leave the local exhaust ventilation (fume hoods, etc.) on.
        10. Collect the mixture of the absorbent and the chemical and place it into a sealable waste container for disposal through the Environmental Compliance/Hazardous Waste Unit.
        11. Additional information on “Low Risk Spills” can be found in Appendix 11 of this document.
      4. Many hazardous substances necessitate special clean-up procedures to minimize hazards to clean-up personnel.  Major spill clean-up should not be attempted by laboratory personnel. If personnel are present at the time of the major spill and a spill kit is readily available, the contents of the spill kit can be emptied onto the spill to assist in stabilizing the spill until the Spill Response Team arrives.  Contact Public Safety (x13) to activate the University's Spill Team.
    6. Exposures
    7. Avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals by any route.  Develop and encourage safe work habits.  Do not smell or taste chemicals.  Should an exposure occur, personnel should consult Section V, Medical Consultations and Examinations for additional details.

      The hazards of chemicals differ. Consult the SDS on individual chemical hazards/toxicity. Personnel should avoid exposures to any chemical. For exposures, the following actions are recommended:

      1. Inhalation: Remove the affected person to fresh air.  If breathing becomes difficult, seek medical attention.
      2. Eye Contact: Promptly flush eyes with room temperature water at an eyewash station for a prolonged period (15 minutes), and seek medical attention.
      3. Skin Contact: Promptly remove any contaminated clothing and flush the affected area with water at a sink, an eyewash station, or safety shower for a minimum of 15 minutes.  If symptoms persist after washing, notify the supervisor/PI or the Laboratory Safety Officer and seek medical attention.  The use of chemical neutralizers or absorbers directly on the skin is NOT recommended.
      4. Ingestion: Call the Poison & Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate first aid procedures to follow.
      5. Fill out an Incident Report:  All chemical exposures shall be documented by completing an employee incident report (SMH-115 form).  The form is available electronically at .  A copy of the completed incident report should be retained by the PI/supervisor and the employee.

QUESTIONS or COMMENTS? Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 7/30/2015. Disclaimer.