FAQs

General Laboratory Safety

The type of gloves appropriate for a laboratory activity depends on the type of chemical and the breakthrough times can be affected by a variety of characteristics including but not limited to:

  • Thickness of glove material.
  • Concentration of the chemical worked with.
  • Amount of chemical the glove comes in contact with.
  • Length of time which the glove is exposed to the chemical.
  • Temperature at which the work is done.
  • Possibility of abrasion or puncture.
  • The chemicals and other materials to be used.

Consult the Glove Selection Chart in Appendix C of the Laboratory Safety Manual to select the best type of gloves for your activity. If you have additional questions, contact EHS.

Housekeeping removes broken glassware boxes from laboratories. However, housekeeping will not remove overfilled boxes or boxes that are dangerous to handle (i.e., shards of glass sticking out of the sides or glass protruding from the opening). Prepare your broken glass as follows in order to ensure housekeeping pick up:

  • Construct broken glass box, line with plastic bag, and place the cover on top.
  • Do not overfill broken glassware boxes.
  • Close the box when it is 75% full.
  • Label the box as trash to assist housekeeping in identifying boxes that are ready for pickup.

If housekeeping does not remove broken glassware boxes, laboratory personnel can transport the box to a dumpster for disposal. Additional broken glassware boxes can be obtained from EHS.

Laboratory personnel must ship all chemical and radioactive materials through EHS. Biological materials and dry ice are also shipped by EHS. If laboratory personnel frequently ship biological materials or dry ice, they may be trained to ship these materials. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis by EHS.

Personnel who wish to ship materials through EHS must contact EHS at least two working days prior to the desired shipping date.

When requesting that EHS ship laboratory materials, laboratory personnel must provide:

  • Itemized list of contents of the package that includes the complete name, volume/weight, and physical state.
  • An appropriate shipping container that meets UN packaging requirements. (This can be purchased through EHS if the department does not have the appropriate containers and the shipment is urgent).
  • Dry ice (if required) and the weight of the dry ice to be included in the package.
  • Package dimension(length, width, height, and weight).
  • Insurance for the package (if any).
  • Sender address and contact information.
  • Recipient name and address, including telephone number.
  • Payment information (fund code or org number to be used to conduct a journal voucher).

On the day of shipment, bring the package to EHS before 12:00 pm.

  • Inspect the package for signs of damage including leaks, broken outer packaging, or a strange odor.
  • If the package is damaged or leaking, do not accept it.
  • In the event the transporter does not accept the package, move the package to a fume hood and contact EHS.
  • If the package is in good condition, take it to the appropriate laboratory.
  • If the package includes potentially-infectious materials, open the package inside a biosafety cabinet.
  • Dry ice from these packages should be placed in a chemical fume hood to sublime. Never place dry ice into a laboratory sink as it may cause pipes to rupture.

EHS conducts routine inspections of all Satellite Accumulation Areas. Pickups occur once a week, however, more frequent pickups can be scheduled in situations where laboratories will generate a high volume of waste in a short period of time. To schedule a waste pickup, contact EHS.

To order chemical, biological, or radiological waste supplies, contact EHS and provide a brief description of the container or supply you are ordering. Please give information regarding the material, color, capacity, and anything specific about the item. Also provide your name, building, laboratory room number, and a telephone number where you can be reached for supply drop-off.

Requests for lab coats are handled by your department. To order a lab coat, contact the lab coat liaison for your department. If you do not know your lab coat liaison, contact EHS and provide your supervisor’s name and laboratory location.

Lab coats are required for BSL-1 and BSL-2 research laboratories and for instructional laboratories operating at BSL-2. Lab coats are recommended for instructional laboratories operating at BSL-1. Lab coats should cover the entire upper body, extend to the knees, and fit comfortably without hanging too loosely from the arms. Lab coats are laundered by an outside contractor on a routine basis. Lab coats should not be laundered by laboratory personnel.

George Mason University laboratory personnel, students, support services staff, and visitors entering laboratories or laboratory support rooms are required to receive safety training commensurate with their level of participation in laboratory activities and the duties they are to perform.

  • Laboratory Safety Orientation training is required and must be renewed annually (by way of Laboratory Safety Refresher) for anyone working in a laboratory, including BSL-2 laboratories.
  • Biological Safety for BSL-2 Laboratories training is required and must be renewed annually (by way of BSL-2 Biosafety Refresher) for all individuals conducting laboratory work in BSL-2 laboratories. This class also fulfills the annual Bloodborne Pathogens training requirement.
  • Animal & Vivarium Safety training is required for individuals working with animals, and must be renewed every three years.
  • Radiation Safety Fundamentals and Radiation Safety Program Hands-On training is required and must be renewed annually for individuals working with Radioactive Materials.

Training is offered monthly at both the Science & Technology and Fairfax campuses. For a complete list of training and to register, click here.

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Biological Safety

The IBC:

  • Provides oversight of recombinant DNA research.
  • Ensures research is in compliance with NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (NIH Guidelines).
  • Reviews and approves all research subject to the NIH Guidelines.
  • Also reviews all projects that involve:
    • Biological materials
    • Infectious materials
    • Other potentially infectious materials
    • Biologically-derived toxins

In order to conduct work with a biological material, an IBC Registration form must be completed.  For more information on recombinant DNA, see the Office of Biotechnology Activities Frequently Asked Questions website.

The transport of biological materials may be regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). If you would like to transport any biological material, please contact EHS to ensure that your transport complies with DOT regulation.

Biological waste that is non-infectious should be autoclaved. If the waste cannot be autoclaved (e.g., mixed with a chemical or is an animal carcass), it should be placed in a burn box for incineration offsite.

  • Autoclave
    • Place waste in a clear autoclave bag
    • Run the autoclave cycle.
    • Fill in the logbook with date, time, your name, type of material treated, and approximate weight of treated waste.
    • Take the waste to the dumpster.
  • Burn box
    • Tape bottom and side seams of box.
    • Line with 2 black bags.
    • When 75% full, seal both bags.
    • Do not fill more than 40 pounds.
    • Close box and tape shut at seams.
    • Contact EHS for pickup.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is offered at no cost to employees determined to be at risk for occupational exposure to human blood, blood products, tissues, cells or other potentially infectious material. The vaccination series must be started within ten working days of initial assignment to a position involving potential exposure.

To obtain the Hepatitis B vaccine, contact EHS. EHS will arrange for eligible employees to receive the vaccination series.

Any waste that has come in contact with potentially-infectious materials should be placed in a red bag with the biohazard symbol.

Regulated medical waste should be autoclaved. If the waste cannot be autoclaved (e.g., mixed with a chemical, is an animal carcass, or is from a clinical space), it should be placed in a burn box for incineration offsite.

  • Autoclave
    • Use an autoclave meant to treat waste (will have a sticker on it that says “waste autoclave only”)
    • Autoclave material for 2 hours at 121oC at 15psi.
    • Fill in the logbook with date, time, your name, type of material treated, and approximate weight of treated waste.
    • Place autoclaved waste in an orange bag.
    • Affix a label indicating the waste has been treated and write the date on it.
    • Take the waste to the dumpster.
  • Burn box
    • Tape bottom and side seams of box.
    • Line with 2 red bags with the biohazard symbol.
    • When 75% full, seal both bags.
    • Do not fill more than 40 pounds.
    • Close box and tape shut at seams.
    • Contact EHS for pickup.
  • Any waste perceived to contain materials that may be infectious to humans.
  • Human materials such as:
    • Blood,
    • Body fluids,
    • Tissues,
    • Organs,
    • Body parts.
  • Items contaminated with human materials.
  • Discarded materials such as cultures, stocks, specimens, or vaccines.
  • Discarded infectious agents.
  • Sharps (including needles, syringes, etc.)
  • Animal materials intentionally infected with pathogens or potentially infectious human materials.
    • Carcasses,
    • Body parts,
    • Bedding,
    • Waste contaminated by these materials.
  • Any contaminated materials used to clean up RMW, such as a spill.
  • Biological Safety for BSL-2 Laboratories, One-Time*
  • Laboratory Safety Orientation, One-Time
  • BSL-2 Biosafety Refresher, Annually thereafter*

* Biological Safety for BSL-2 Laboratories and BSL-2 Biosafety Refresher fulfill a BSL-2 laboratory worker’s annual Bloodborne Pathogens training requirement.

For more information or to register for training, click here.

  • Annually
  • After relocation

EHS coordinates the certification and you will be notified to ensure it does not interfere with your schedule.

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Chemical Safety

  • Select a waste container that has a tight fitting screw cap or lid, and is compatible with the waste it will contain. If you do not have the correct waste container, contact EHS for assistance.
  • Label the container with a Hazardous Waste Label. Include the complete chemical name of the waste. Do not use abbreviations, trade names, chemical formulas, or chemical structures. If the waste is a mixture of chemicals, list each component and their relative concentrations. EHS provides Hazardous Waste labels upon request.
  • Place the labeled container in the satellite accumulation area located in the laboratory or in the adjacent support suite. Satellite accumulation areas are marked bins provide by EHS.
  • Chemical waste containers should be considered full when the container is 90% full. When a waste container is determined to be full, write the date on the container and place it in the Satellite Accumulation Area.
  • EHS collects waste placed in Satellite Accumulation Areas during weekly rounds. You can also contact EHS to arrange a special pickup if necessary.

For additional information, refer to the Laboratory Safety Manual or contact EHS.

All hazardous waste containers must be compatible with the materials they are intended to store, must have a cap or lid that is able to be tightly sealed, and must be labeled with the complete chemical name and the words “Hazardous Waste.” Do not use food containers, pharmaceutical containers, flasks, bins, or other open top containers.

EHS provides 5-gallon polyethylene containers for the disposal of corrosive, organic, inorganic, and flammable wastes. Additional container sizes made of various chemical resistant materials may be available or provided upon request.

EHS recommends using empty chemical containers that are generated in the laboratory to accumulate hazardous waste. If you choose to use an existing chemical container, please remove or completely deface the chemical label and replace it with a label that correctly identifies the waste contents. Please be sure that the chemicals are compatible with the container’s material(s) and that the container has a properly fitted cap or lid that is capable of being tightly sealed. Waste stored in containers that does not meet these requirements will not be removed from your laboratory until you have met these re-use requirements.

EHS tests showers and eyewashes every six months in laboratory areas to certify that water pressure and flow rate are within acceptable parameters.

In addition, departments are required to flush safety showers and eyewashes every two weeks to ensure that there is a flushing fluid supply at the head of the device and to clear the supply line of any sediment build-up that could prevent fluid from being delivered and to minimize microbial contamination due to sitting water. Routine flushing must be recorded on the Inspection Tag attached to the equipment. Contact your department’s Unit Safety Liaison for more information.

No, as laboratory personnel who use a chemical fume hood that operates outside the range of 80 to 120 fpm at a sash height of 18 inches (marked by maximum sash height sticker) may be exposed to harmful chemical vapors. Contact EHS and do not use the chemical fume hood until it has been repaired.

All chemical fume hoods must be tested annually. At the time of testing, a label is placed on the chemical fume hood indicating the day in which it was last tested as well as the date in which testing is required. Contact EHS if your chemical fume hood is in need of testing.

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Radiation Safety

The Radiation Safety Officer issues dosimetry badges to personnel based depending on the work being performed and the materials being used. Complete a Personal Monitoring Services Form and attach to an email sent to safety@gmu.edu.

Yes, survey meters are available to Approved Users. Approved Users may request a survey meter and arrange to pick one up by contacting EHS. Approved users may also choose to use their own survey meters. Any meter that is used as part of compliance with the radiation safety program must be calibrated annually. EHS can coordinate the calibration, including cost, of any survey meter which is to be used as part of the radiation safety program. To request calibration please contact EHS.

Submit a completed Radiation Registration form along with a Radiation User Authorization Form to labsafe@gmu.edu. The Radiation Registration form should outline the proposed work with radiation and safety and security procedures that will be utilized in the laboratory. Your registration will be reviewed by the Radiation Safety Officer as well as the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). After successful completion of training and approval of the proposed work by the RSC, you will be authorized to use radiation and to supervise graduate students, undergraduate students, and/or volunteers in their use of radiation.

With the help of the Approved User who will be supervising your work, complete a Radiation User Authorization Form as well as a Personal Monitoring Services Form and send the completed form as an email attachment to safety@gmu.edu.

In order to become a supervised user, the following requirements must be met:

  • 8-hours of initial Radiation Safety training must be completed. The Radiation Safety Officer will contact you in regards to registering for training once your Radiation User Authorization Form has been received.
  • You must be listed on an approved protocol under an Approved User.

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Not sure who to contact?

We work closely with many departments on campus, e.g., University Police, Student Health Services, Risk Management, etc., and sometimes it's hard to tell which office you need help from. Often times it's a combo of many! You are more than welcome to contact us if you are unsure, but we've also created a "Who do I contact?" resource if you'd like to take a look.