Common housekeeping practices contribute greatly towards chemical hygiene and safety.   A clean work area is much safer than a cluttered or dirty one.  Additionally, regulatory agencies that inspect consider a messy laboratory as a "visual clue of possible non-compliance warranting further inquiry." Some appropriate housekeeping measures include:

  • Keeping all aisles, hallways, and stairs clear of chemicals and equipment.
  • Not storing chemical containers on the floor.
  • Regularly cleaning all working surfaces and floors.
  • Keeping chemicals and wastes in properly sealed containers and labeled properly.
  • Promptly cleaning spilled materials on the floor or work surfaces.
  • Keeping tables, chemical hoods, work areas, floors, aisles, and desks clear of all material not being used and clear of clutter.
  • Always maintaining a clear passageway to the exit.
  • Always maintaining a clear space around safety showers or eyewashes, fire extinguishers, and electrical controls.
  • Filling sink traps and floor drain traps periodically with water to prevent the escape of sewer gases into the laboratories.
  • Cleaning work areas upon completion of an experiment or at the end of each day.
  • Keeping bench tops and bench liners free of visible contamination.
  • Reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls by cleaning up liquid or solid spills immediately, keeping doors and drawers closed, and passageways clear of obstructions.
  • Not storing excess cardboard boxes, equipment boxes, styrofoam, etc. under lab benches, on shelves, or above shelves/cabinets throughout the lab. This can be a safety as well as a fire hazard.

Laboratory staff should be considerate and aware of custodial and maintenance staff.  Therefore, laboratory workers should make sure that:

  • All chemicals are placed in proper storage areas by the end of each workday.
  • All chemical and waste containers are sealed and labeled with the identity of the chemical(s).
  • All spilled chemical containers are promptly cleaned and properly disposed of.
  • Laboratory "sharps" are placed in appropriate containers. Never into regular trash receptacles.

It should be realized that the research laboratory contains many unique hazards.   General cleaning and maintenance in these laboratories should be conducted by Facilities staff only after consultation with the laboratory supervisor.  In no case should chemicals, waste containers, gas cylinders, or specific laboratory apparatus be moved by Facilities Services staff.

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