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EHRS Summer Update
July 15, 2008, Volume 55, No. 1

Laboratory Attire: What You Wear Can Make You Safer: During the summer months many University employees arrive inappropriately dressed for work in the laboratory. The University of Pennsylvania’s laboratory safety manuals as well as federal regulations and NIH require lab workers to wear lab coats and safety glasses in areas where chemicals, biohazards or radioisotopes are used. Shorts and sandals are not appropriate attire for laboratories even when they are worn under lab coats because they leave skin exposed that can be harmed by a chemical exposure.

Proper attire includes long pants, closed toes shoes, lab coats and safety glasses. The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) recognizes that in the summer many lab workers walk or bike to their laboratories and find it more comfortable to wear shorts. We encourage these lab workers to keep a pair of cotton scrubs in their lockers and to wear the scrubs over their shorts while they work in the lab. It is also likely that the same individuals will be wearing sandals, flip flops, or other open-toed footwear to work. Thus, we also encourage these lab workers to also keep appropriate footwear to be worn in the lab.

Regulatory and funding agency guidelines require lab coats and safety glasses be provided at no charge to employees and that employers assure that they are worn. University faculty are responsible to ensure that their staff wear lab coats, appropriate clothing under their lab coats, and safety glasses whenever they are in the lab.

High School or College Students working in Labs Require Training:During the summer months many students work in University laboratories.  To provide for their safety and to ensure compliance with applicable regulations, the University has established the following guidelines:

1. All individuals who work in laboratories must attend mandatory training programs on laboratory safety provided by EHRS. Check the EHRS website www.ehrs.upenn.edu/training/dates/ for training schedules.

2. Proper laboratory attire must be worn. This includes long pants, closed-toed shoes, lab coats and safety glasses.

UPS and Dangerous Goods: Beginning July 1, 2008 the University started using UPS as its sole contract supplier for shipping. If you ship dangerous goods either domestically or internationally, including dry ice, there are important differences in the way that packages are prepared for UPS. This includes revised labeling requirements as well as a list of prohibited items. Please contact EHRS with any dangerous goods shipping questions or to receive shipping training. Additional information will be available on the EHRS website.

Chemical Spill Kits: Every laboratory that uses chemicals is required to have a spill control kit. The majority of laboratory chemical spills can be cleaned by lab personnel. In order for spill clean-up to be conducted safely, proper personal protective equipment and appropriate spill materials are needed. Although most spill kit contents are common items which may be found throughout the lab, the consolidation of these materials allows rapid and safe spill response.

Spill kits can be purchased through Fisher Scientific. EHRS recommends one of the following options:

NC9064010  Economy universal spill kit (bag) $55.11 

17-985-128  Fisherbrand spill response kit (6-gal pail) $70.31

Please contact Jim Crumley, EHRS Hazardous Materials Specialist, (215) 746-5036 if you require additional information.

New Labels for Non-Infectious Laboratory Glassware/Plasticware Disposal Containers: EHRS has introduced two new labels for non-infectious laboratory glassware and plasticware disposal containers in an effort to improve safety and compliance. One label is specific to disposal in Glassware Buckets, the other is specific to disposal in Glassware Boxes. The labels provide instructions for both laboratory personnel and housekeepers, and should be affixed to the disposal containers prior to use. 

The labels are currently available from EHRS by e-mailing your request to ehrs@ehrs.upenn.edu or calling (215) 898-4453.

New Training Program: A Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) is a primary means of containment developed for working safely with infectious microorganisms. BSCs are designed to provide personnel, environmental and product protection when appropriate practices and procedures are followed. This EHRS training module, required for all users of biological safety cabinets, explains how BSCs work, their limitations, appropriate work practices, decontamination, maintenance, certification and repair procedures. Requirements for the use of biosafety cabinets are included in the NIH/CDC Guidelines “Biosafety in Microbiological & Biomedical Laboratories (CDC-NIH) 5th Edition”

New Training Program:  Recombinant DNA Training; In order to comply with the spirit of the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research, this training program was designed to familiarize researchers with the NIH Guidelines by providing information regarding the roles, responsibilities, safeguards and procedures for various personnel involved with rDNA research at the University of Pennsylvania. It is required by the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA) for all faculty and staff whose research involves recombinant nucleic acids.

—Office Of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety


Almanac - July 15, 2008, Volume 55, No. 1