Top Ten Findings from EHSO Laboratory Inspections

In the spring of this year, EHSO conducted beta-testing of the Scorecard Inspection Process. The Scorecard is a document that identifies the strengths and areas for improvement from an individual lab’s perspective and a overall department perspective.  The process is designed to give the PI and the Department Chair a depiction of the safety culture and compliance within the research spaces for which they have oversight.

Each lab’s score is based on the results of validation and follow-up inspections conducted by the Research Safety Building Liaisons.  Each section of the EHSO Laboratory Self-Inspection Form receives an overall score based on the number of questions in that section that are answered with a “No” response.

The following list identifies the most common inspection findings that were observed during the validation inspection and the follow-up inspection performed by EHSO.

Fire Safety

1. 18” inches rule – In the event of a fire, the flow of water must  not be obstructed by items that are stored too close to the sprinkler heads.  Storage in the lab must be 18” from the ceiling so that the spray from the sprinkler heads is not obstructed.

2. Adequate means of egress – Personnel must be able to quickly identify and utilize the nearest exit from their lab to reach the outside of the building.  Exit doors must not be blocked by storage of laboratory equipment or furniture.  Aisles, hallways, and walkways must also have at least 36 inches of clearance to ensure adequate egress in an emergency.

Biohazard Waste Disposal

3.  Open Biohazard Waste Containers – The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division requires that Biohazard waste containers remain closed except when adding waste to the container.  This includes Stericycle boxes.  Stericycle provides lids for the biohazard containers.  These lids can be purchased directly from the vendor.

4. Improper Biohazard Waste Disposal – Pastuer Pipettes used for cell culture must be placed in a sharps container.  These items cannot be placed into the Glass Box for disposal.  The glass box is used to contain non-contaminated glassware

5. Over filled Biohazard Waste and Sharps Containers –  Biohazard Waste containers and Sharps containers must be replaced once the container is 3/4ths full.  Once the Stericycle boxes are full, they must be properly prepared for pickup.  The bag must be secured by  twisting the top of the bag until it forms a “goose neck”and secured with tape.  Then, tape the box closed and affix the barcode label.  For a demonstration on how to pack a Stericycle box, visit the following link :

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

6. Lack of proper PPE while working – OSHA requires that lab personnel wear appropriate PPE to minimize their exposure to hazardous materials and infectious substances.  Proper PPE includes but is not limited to: gloves, lab coats, safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, and respirators.  PPE must be selected based on the potential routes of exposure of a particular activity.  Of course, PPE alone is not adequate protection.  Lab personnel must remember that PPE is to be used in conjunction with other engineering controls that are present in the lab for protection.  Review the table below for examples of adequate protection based on potential exposures.  You can also visit the EHSO Gloves Guide for guidance on selecting adequate hand protection:


Selecting PPE – Example of a Hazard Assessment*
Hazard Type Examples of Hazard Common Tasks Examples of PPERequired
Impact Flying particles, fragments, particles, dust Drilling, sanding, transferring samples from ultra cold freezer Safety Glasses with side shields, and Hand Protection
Heat Anything emitting extreme heat Using heat guns, casting Safety Glasses with side shields or safety goggles (depending on heat intensity)
Chemicals Splashes, Fumes,Vapors, and Irritating Mists Handling acids, organic solvents, plating, and degreasing Safety Goggles, Hand Protection, Lab Coat
Optical Radiation Radiant Energy, glare, intense light Handling UV lamps, soldering, laser work, welding Safety Glasses or Safety Goggles with Z.87 designation or appropriate face shield and hand protection



7. Training requirements   – Training must be completed according to regulatory requirements.  Documentation of training completion must be available in the EHSO Lab Safety Binder.  The labs should utilize the Emory Learning Management System to complete online training requirements.   Personnel can print certificates as training documentation for all courses completed in ELMS.  At this time, Laser Safety Training can still be completed in Blackboard.  A useful tool for tracking training for the personnel in your lab is the EHSO Training Tracking Template.  This template can be found at:training template.

  • Biosafety Training must be completed once every three years.
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Training (BBP) must be completed every year.
  • Lab Safety Training must be completed must be completed every year.
  • Shipping Training must be completed every two years.
  • Radiation Safety Training – must complete initial training, and then refresher training every three years.

8. On Going Training (Lab Rat Newsletter)  – All personnel must read and sign the Lab Rat Newsletter each month.

Chemical Storage /Chemical Waste

9. Chem
ical Labeling – Consider the picture: Based on the affixed label, would you be able      to identify the chemical stored in the container?  For the purpose of Hazard Communication, chemicals must be labeled with the chemical name to identify the contents.  In most instances, the label must include the full name of the compound.  However, common names such as, EDTA, are acceptable when making buffer solutions and aliquots.

10. Unidentified Chemical Waste – Chemical waste containers must be labeled with the  EHSO Waste Label.

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