Lab Inspections

EH&S conducts regular lab inspections to:

  • Minimize the risk of injury or illness to laboratory workers by ensuring that they have the training, information, and support needed to work safely in the laboratory.
  • Assess and reduce the hazard conditions in the laboratory.
  • Ensure that labs are in compliance with applicable local, state and federal regulations.
  • Assist faculty, staff, and students in establishing a safe and hygienic work environment.

The General Lab Inspection Checklist is utilized by EH&S for a comprehensive review of the lab. A report of all findings, resolutions, and recommendations will be made available within one business day. Research labs will have five (5) to twenty (20) business days to remediate the findings depending on their hazard level (see Laboratory Inspection Process Flow Chart). EH&S will schedule a follow up inspection to confirm laboratory compliance and report findings as corrected. Remediation of hazards outside the PI’s direct responsibility (e.g., provision of safety showers, repair of building infrastructure) will be referred to FMS or other appropriate personnel. Most labs at USC are inspected annually. Labs that are designated by EH&S as high hazard or of special concern will be subject to more frequent safety inspections.

Research groups may use the following guide and quick list to help prepare for general lab safety inspections by EH&S. Review the sections below in tandem with both documents:

Training

Ensure all lab workers meet the minimum EH&S training requirements prior to beginning work in the laboratory. Refer to the USC Safety Training Matrix for Research Personnel Fact Sheet to determine the required safety courses and go to the Training homepage to review the schedule of classes and ensure all lab workers meet training requirements.

At a minimum, every lab member is required to complete the in-class General Lab Safety Training (GLS) followed by Annual Refresher Training provided by the lab supervisor or PI as detailed in the Annual Safety Refresher Training Memo.

A signed Site-Specific Training Record (SSTR) and certificate for all required training must be on file for every lab worker.

Standard Operating Procedures

Lab-specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) shall be available for all the highly hazardous materials and equipment.  View the SOP webpage for templates of general hazard class SOPs. Use the templates to produce SOPs that address the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals in your laboratory.

  • Researchers must maintain SOPs as hard copies placed in a labeled three ring binder and/or as labeled electronic files on a computer/server. All lab personnel must have ready access to both hard copy and electronic files.
  • All SOPs that are read and understood by lab personnel must be signed and dated. This review shall be completed annually.
  • Ensure that all new lab personnel read and review SOPs prior to beginning lab work.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each hazardous chemical used in research labs shall be readily accessible to all lab personnel. SDSs may be acquired from chemical suppliers or via the SDS database. Researchers must maintain SDSs as hard copies placed in a labeled three ring binder and/or as labeled electronic files on a computer/server.

  • Ensure that personnel read the SDSs for all the hazardous materials they intend to use.
  • Ensure that a printed copy of a current SDS is physically available in the vicinity of any work with materials of very high acute health hazard (e.g. phenol, hydrofluoric acid, cyanides).

Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool

Complete the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT) annually or when there is a major modification to laboratory procedures and email it to labsafety@usc.edu.

EHSA

Information related to the CHEM permit (e.g., lab personnel, chemical inventory and door signs) in EHSA must be accurate and up-to-date prior to the General Lab Safety inspection.

  • Update lab personnel to accurately reflect current staff. This can be maintained via the “Workers Management” tab in EHSA.
  • Review and verify that your chemical inventory is up-to-date.
  • Follow instructions in the EHSA SOP Create Placards for Lab Locations to create door sign(s) for your lab(s).
    • Update door signs with PI and emergency personnel contact information.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Adhere to the USC Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standard and wear appropriate PPE as determined by the LHAT. Additional PPE (e.g., face shield, acid apron, disposable neoprene gloves over thicker butyl gloves) must be made available when working with highly hazardous materials such as hydrofluoric acid. Note: The use of respirators is not allowed outside of the Respiratory Protection Program.

Additional Things to Consider

  • Emergency Notification and Incident Reporting – Ensure that the 1-2-3 Serious Injury Reporting Flyer is posted in a conspicuous area in each research lab. It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that lab personnel are knowledgeable about the required reporting processes.
  • A first-aid kit that follows the OSHA ANSI 2015 Standard must be available in the lab.
    • If hydrofluoric acid is used in the lab, the first-aid kit must contain calcium gluconate. See the HF Safety Fact Sheet for additional info.
    • If phenol is used in the lab, phenol specific first aid supplies are required. See the Phenol Safety Fact Sheet for additional information.
  • Eliminate unnecessary clutter in the lab. Do not block exits, safety showers, eye wash stations, fire extinguishers, and posted evacuation plans.
  • Chemical Spill – Ensure the Chemical Spill Response Notification Flyer is posted in a conspicuous area in each research lab.  Additionally, a chemical spill kit must be available in the lab. Please see the Chemical Spill Kit Guide Sheet for more detailed information on appropriate spill kit materials.

Chemical Hygiene Plan

Update hard or digital copies of your Lab Safety Manual to include the current revision of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP)