Laboratory Safety

Georgia State University recognizes the importance of and encourages laboratory research and teaching activities conducted at the university. In our mission to become a leading public research institution, GSU is committed to keeping those who work in our facilities safe. Thus, our Office and the Laboratory Safety Committee (LSC) have established safety measures to protect the welfare of all laboratory personnel.



 A laboratory is defined as an area where hazardous materials may be used as part of teaching or research including but not limited to: science laboratories, fine art studios for painting, sculpture, ceramics, wood/metal working, jewelry, textiles, etc., and other areas of operations at the university. Such laboratories are characterized by controlled uniformity of conditions (e.g. constant temperature, water or utility services, humidity, cleanliness, fume hoods and/or cabinets, proper waste disposal protocols, and fire safety measures) and are subject to federal, state, and university regulations. A laboratory usually contains chemicals and other agents/materials that, once used, will need disposal according to regulatory requirements.

All laboratory personnel are required to complete the following University System of Georgia- prescribed training modules before working in the lab.

Note: These training certifications require annual refresher trainings

For questions about USG’s RTK training, contact Safety and Risk Management at 404-413-9549

The Office of Research and Environmental Safety has also designed a variety of training modules for laboratory personnel to complete before beginning their work. Please visit our Compliance and Safety Training page for more information on GSU’s training requirements. Be sure to take the Training Questionnaire to determine which training courses you will need. If you have any questions about GSU’s certification requirements, contact our office via email at
Check out the USG’s Training Resources page for other training modules.

The Office of Research and Environmental Safety (RES) is committed to a collaborative, proactive laboratory safety program at GSU. A comprehensive, 90-point laboratory inspection checklist has been created and posted below for principle investigators (PI) and laboratory personnel to use in safety and quality improvement efforts. The checklist provides a scoring system to rank the laboratory’s compliance.
From the checklist, an inspection report is generated that details any findings. The report seeks the feedback from PI in the form of corrective actions to be made in response to findings. A summarized version of the reports will be provided to the Laboratory Safety Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee, and Radiation Protection Committee and will be made available to department chairs for use in proactive quality improvement efforts.
Our goal is to conduct annual inspections of each investigator with an active research or teaching laboratory. This proactive, collaborative approach to laboratory safety establishes RES as a resource for investigators in operating safe facilities.

Annual Laboratory Assessment Checklist

The Office of Research and Environmental Safety requires that an inspection be performed when opening a new laboratory. These procedures were established to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations. For new or existing faculty members who are planning to open a new laboratory, it is recommended that you schedule an inspection two weeks prior to beginning work in the laboratory.
RES also requires an exit inspection be performed when closing an existing laboratory. Follow the Laboratory Opening Procedures if you are moving from one laboratory to another. For faculty that is leaving GSU, it is recommended that the closing process be started no later than 30 days before the final day of employment.

The checklists below outline the procedures that must be completed by the lab personnel for opening or closing a laboratory. Once the steps listed on the checklists are completed, RES will conduct a final walkthrough to confirm that the steps have been completed.
Contact RES at (404)413-3540 for an on-site inspection of your laboratory. RES will assist the laboratory supervisor in the areas of chemical, radiation, and biological safety to close or open your laboratory. RES will process your request and notify all pertinent safety programs.

Laboratory accidents can be reported online by filling out the Laboratory Accident Report form. Based on the severity and need, Department of Safety & Risk Management staff will contact the injured party for further assistance.
Feel free to contact our office at (404)413-3540 or the Department of Safety and Risk Management at (404)413-9549 if you have any questions.

The Hierarchy System of Controls identifies the major methods of accident prevention to maintain a safe working environment. These controls include:

  • Engineering controls may include using a chemical fume hood or snorkel, containing chemicals and other materials in the appropriate containers, eyewashes and safety showers, or increasing the ventilation in a particular area to minimize an exposure to a hazardous substance. Making sure that all equipment in your laboratory are properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis is an integral part of engineering controls.If you have any issues with the equipment in your lab, please contact Facilities Department via phone at (404)413-0700 to submit a service request.
  • Administrative controls include altering the way in which a procedure is done, monitored, and/or restricted. Examples of an administrative control is to limit the exposure time of a worker, creating written standards operating procedures (SOPs), enforcing rules about daily housekeeping, and performing regular equipment maintenance. Be sure to adhere to all of the rules and regulations established by your department/PI, GSU, and the local, state, and federal agencies.It is the responsibilities of all lab staff and PIs to establish administrative controls within their lab space. When setting these parameters and procedures, please be sure to follow safety guidelines set by federal, state, and local entities.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be considered as a supplemental control when engineering controls are not adequate. It should be used to increase the level of safety protection from chemical, biological, and physical hazards to protect you from harm should an accident occur. PPE should also be on hand for use during emergency response and cleanup procedures. PPE includes items such as gloves, safety glasses, protective shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, lab coats, aprons, and respirators and masks.There are many different brands and a variety of materials that protect against different hazards of varying degrees. Make sure to check the packaging of your PPE to determine if that is the right type of glove, eyewear, lab coat, etc. to protect you against the hazard(s) you are exposed to.

More Information:

The Office of Research and Environmental Safety offers a service to make it easy to exchange your mercury-filled thermometer for a less hazardous, more environmentally-friendly one. The EPA has identified mercury as one of 12 priority persistent bio-accumulative toxic (PBT) pollutants. Thermometers represent a significant source of mercury on campus. RES will replace your mercury thermometers with alcohol-filled thermometers for free. Contact Research Safety Specialist Sydney Swain at (404)413-3565 or to participate in the thermometer exchange program.
Additional Links:


  • Lab Door Signs (Please make sure the lab door signs for your lab(s) are up-to-date with the lab coordinator/manager and the PI’s contact information)
  • Emergency Contact door sign (Please place this sign on the back of every entry door of your lab)

Laboratory safety policies & procedures: