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.

As outlined in the General Laboratory Safety manual, all lab personnel, Principal Investigators, and Department Chairs have responsibilities to ensure that the laboratory is safe to work in. The responsibilities are as follows:

Department Chair/College Deans

  • Ensure that prior to the initiation of research, each Principal Investigator using hazardous materials implements the University Laboratory Safety Manual and the Department-Specific Laboratory Safety Plan (LABORATORY SAFETY MANUAL) within their respective laboratory space(s).
  • Ensure that all Principal Investigators, Laboratory Personnel, students and other authorized personnel allowed access to the laboratories where hazardous materials are used have received all necessary and required training in laboratory safety policies and procedures
  • Ensure that appropriate facilities and safety equipment are available and appropriate PPE is used for research and teaching activities involving hazardous materials (this includes, spill kits, lab coats, glove, goggles, dust masks, first aid kits, etc.),
  • Provide leadership and support of laboratory safety

Principal Investigator


  • Ensuring that all laboratory personnel have the proper training before allowing them to work in a laboratory using hazardous materials. Training shall include (but not be limited to): 
    •  Ensure that job specific safety protocols for laboratory equipment and hazardous materials are followed.
    •  Ensure that laboratory personnel have the ability to locate and communicate knowledge and comprehension of the LABORATORY SAFETY MANUAL, and the information related to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and all safety and compliance training required by University policy. 
    •  Ensure that training records are readily available according to Section II, subsection H.
  • Ensure that all applicable safety and compliance records are maintained as required by Federal, State and Local regulations and University policy. 
  • Because of the difficulty to remove and/or secure hazardous materials that may pose a health and/or safety risk under his/her control prior to maintenance personnel working on furnishings, equipment, or laboratory systems, maintenance personnel may only work in the lab according to the schedule of the PI.

Laboratory Personnel

  • Obtain training on protocols, hazard controls, specific hazards and emergency procedures before working in a laboratory or facility using hazardous materials.
  • Learn all job specific safety protocols for laboratory equipment and hazardous materials within the laboratory.
  • Complete all safety and compliance training that is required by University policy.
  • Maintain current training records (i.e. keep the records within reach and remember to perform annual training in accordance to the Manual).
  • Ensure that all applicable safety and compliance records are maintained as required by Federal, State and Local regulations and University policy.
  • Comply with all policies, regulations, and procedures regarding the proper procurement, storage, use, transportation and disposal of all hazardous materials being used. 
  • Immediately inform the supervisor of any hazardous situation or situation that has the potential to become hazardous.
  • Follow all laboratory protocols and standard operating procedures.
  • Do not proceed with a process unless safety is addressed and is completely understood.
  • Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and personal apparel which must include low heeled, closed toed shoes and garments covering the legs. Shorts, sandals, flip-flops, short skirts, tank tops/open midriff tops, and dangling jewelry are not allowed when working or in the direct vicinity of hazardous material.
  • If personnel observe issues that pose a risk and have not been addressed, the supervisor and/or PI are to bring it to the attention of the Department Chair and ORI.

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.

Accidents that take place in the laboratory and involves any hazardous materials should be immediately reported to GSU Police and Research and Environmental Safety. Our office is prepared to assist with hazardous materials clean up. Any incidents involving fire and injury must be reported immediately to local authorities (911 or GSU Police at (404)413-3333).

The GSU Office of Emergency Management also provides guidance on what to do in case of an emergency.

Contact the Department of Safety and Risk Management at (404)413-9549 to report any claims and injuries associated with the laboratory accident.

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: