Laboratory safety

Laboratory safety

Brightly lit lab space with empty chairs and cluttered counter spaceLaboratories, shops and maker spaces where hazardous materials are used or stored are required to post an up-to-date sign at the entrance. The sign is intended to alert emergency responders and visitors of potential hazards and precautions for entry.

  • EH&S installs the sign holder and posts the initial sign. Occupants update signs as needed using the tool available on the MyChem menu.
  • You must have an account in the MyChem chemical inventory system to create or edit a sign based on the chemical inventory in your laboratory, shop or maker space.
  • The National Fire Association (NFPA) has developed a color-coded number system called NFPA 704. The system uses a color-coded diamond with four quadrants in which numbers are used to signal the degree of health hazard (blue), flammability hazard (red), and instability hazard (yellow).

Fire Triangle description

For more information on how to understand the fire triangle, refer to the UW Caution sign for hazards webpage.


Compressed gas

Compressed gas is a generic term used for describing compressed gases, liquefied compressed gases, refrigerated liquefied gases (cryogenic gases) and dissolved gases. Compressed gases may also be referred to as gas cylinders.

If you experience a compressed gas leak:

  1. Leave the area immediately and get to a source of fresh air.
  2. Contact Campus Security at 425-352-5222 or call 911.
  3. Complete a report in the Online Accident Reporting System.

Emergency washing equipment

Eye washes are required in areas where any of the following agents are used: corrosives; strong irritants; or toxic chemicals of concern.

  •  A safety shower is required in areas where any corrosives, strong irritants or toxic chemicals of concern are used in quantities and processes that could result in a substantial portion of the body being impacted.
  • Showers are co-located with eyewash stations outside of all necessary Labs.
  • If any equipment is in malfunctioning condition, or there is visible damage, report it to your supervisor immediately.

What you need to know:

  • Where and how to use your equipment?
  • Ensuring its maintained properly with weekly/yearly documented flushing
  • Refer to section four (4) of the Laboratory Safety Manual for information on emergency washing equipment.

Pressure vessels

A pressure vessel is a closed container designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially higher or lower than the ambient pressure that can be hazardous. EH&S provides resources and information to stay safe while working with pressure vessels.

  •   What you can do to stay safe: to remain safe and competent while using pressure vessel, read and refer to the Vessels and Lab safety link on the UW webpage.               

Safety manuals

 Safety manuals contain vital information to maintain the health and safety of those working with potentially hazardous materials or equipment. Any UW faculty, staff or student working with hazardous chemicals, biological agents, radioactive materials, lasers and/or scientific diving equipment should follow the rules and guidance provided in the appropriate safety manual(s).


Research & lab safety links