Share This

Laboratory Safety

Campus Planning and Facilities Management

Laboratory Safety

Laboratory operations can be dangerous whether you are working with hazardous materials or equipment or just performing common laboratory procedures.  Everyday there are incidents that occur in teaching and research laboratories on campuses across the country.  Although many accidents are minor, there are also serious cases, including fatalities.  Periodically, CCNy has multiple incidents in our laboratories.  Our goal is to reduce that number and reduce accidental injuries.

In collaboration with CUNY, EHOS provides a Laboratory Safety Manual.  EHOS has also prepared manuals specifically for CCNY.  Our manuals promote safe and practical laboratory procedures, including information on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and emergency procedures and incident response.  It is important to recognize that this manual does not cover all the risks and hazards in every laboratory.  You may also review our Lab Self Inspection Checklist.  There are a wide variety of hazardous materials handled in laboratories at CCNY.  As a final note, EHOS would like to remind you that CUNY expects each Principal Investigator (PI) to fully append any supplementary safety information to this manual pertinent to their specific laboratory.

Laboratory Safety includes:

Laser Safety

Nano-particle Safety

Biological Safety

City University of New York (CUNY) reviews and authorizes research with biological materials such as microorganisms, viruses, and animal or human tissue.  EHOS assists with this review process by inspecting CCNY laboratories for compliance with the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) and Primary Containment for Biohazards: Selection, Installation, and Use of Bios Cabinets.  These guidelines are set forth by the CDC's Office of Safety, Health, and Environment and the NIH periodically to promote the safety and health of workers in biological and medical laboratories.  These national publications are periodically updated and are both available as free PDFs

Chemical Hygiene

All laboratories which use chemicals are required to abide by the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 1910.1450), Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories; commonly known as the "Laboratory Safety Standard".  EHOS has developed a Chemical Hygiene Plan to give PIs and lab supervisors directions for complying with this regulation, but the manual is not intended to provide a review of the details of the regulation -- for details seeLaboratory Safety Standard.

Hazardous Waste

The disposal of regulated waste and other unwanted chemicals has become increasingly complicated.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state laws regulate the treatment and disposal of chemical wastes in New York.  The purpose of this section is to help you better understand exactly what is and isn't regulated chemical waste.  In providing this section we encourage you to design experiments with waste minimization in mind.  EHOS expects that you will dispose of chemical waste generated in your laboratory in a manner consistent with the legal requirements of federal and state laws.  For further information please contact EHOS at (212) 650-5080.


Radiation Safety

EHOS has mission regarding Radiation Safety.  That mission is to support research and teaching activities by providing training, information, and services that enable individual faculty, staff, and students to work safely and in compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations.


Please contact EHOS at (212) 650-5080.


  • Upon receiving the radioactive package inspect to see if the package has been checked for contamination by examining the security seal and confirming the package was opened by Radiation Safety Personnel. If the radioactive package is ok then sign the receipt and store in the proper location.
  • If the package wasn't properly checked do not sign the receipt and ask the Radiation Safety Personnel to check the package for contamination.



  • All materials that are contaminated with radionuclides must be placed in the Radiation Safety Complex.  Please contact EHOS at (212) 650-5080 for handling instructions.



  • Note and Precautions: Spreading of radiation beyond the spill area can easily occur by the movement of personnel involved in the spill or cleanup effort. Prevent spread by confining movement of personnel until they have been monitored and found free of contamination. A minor radiation spill is one that the laboratory staff is capable of handling safety without the assistance of the Radiation Safety Department. All other radiation spills are considered major.


  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, disposable gloves, shoe covers, and long-sleeve lab coat.
  • Place absorbent paper towels over liquid spill. Place towels dampened with water or decontaminant cleaner over spills of solid materials.
  • Using forceps or gloved hand, placed towels in plastic bag. Dispose in radiation waste container.
  • Monitor area, hands, and shoes for contamination with an appropriate survey meter. Repeat cleanup until contamination is no longer detected.
  • If assistance needed, call Radiation Safety.


  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  • Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  • Have potentially contaminated personnel stay in one area until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  • Call the Radiation Safety Officer and Radiation Safety Personnel.
  • Close the doors and prevent entrance into affected area.

Occupational Safety

Any occupational hazards or unsafe conditions must be immediately reported to EHOS at (212) 650-5080 or the Office of Public Safety (212) 650-7777 or 6911.  Any job related injury must reported to both the Office of Public Safety and to the Human Resources Office.   EHOS will review both reports and take the appropriate actions necessary to address the issue.

EHOS also maintains copies of Material Safety Date Sheets (MSDS) for hazardous substances used on campus.  MSDS sheets are available to all employees whose job functions and activities are involved in the handling of materials such as those containing asbestos or lead, or work in environments where indoor air quality may be affected. 


This program is responsible for the safe and proper control of asbestos containing materials.  This includes compiling an inventory of known asbestos containing building materials, performing surveys, air sampling, and overseeing abatement activities.

The term "asbestos" is not a mineralogical definition but a commercial name given to a group of minerals that is resistant to electrical, chemical and thermal degradation.  These minerals have been used in many products, including insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes and textile products, and cement and wallboard materials.

The asbestos minerals have a tendency to separate into microscopic particles that can remain in the air and are easily inhaled.  Persons occupationally exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer.  Although the use of products containing asbestos has dramatically decreased, it is still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.