Frequently Asked Questions

General Safety 

Who is my Department Safety Advisor

What is LHAT?

The Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT) is a web-based system intended to identify hazards and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in laboratories. LHAT identifies appropriate PPE to be used in labs based on hazards identified.

How do I obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for new lab employees?

Principle Investigators must ensure new employees complete the LHAT and associated PPE training to obtain PPE from EH&S (while supplies last). Please contact EH&S PPE coordinator at [email protected] or go to the EH&S PPE program web page to learn more.

Where can I find the Illness & Injury Reporting Tool?

Where can I order biohazard/radioactive/chemical waste bags?

Hazardous material waste bags can be ordered through BearBuy.

How do I dispose of the broken glass cardboard boxes?

Broken glass must be disposed of in cardboard boxes clearly labeled with “Broken Glass”. Cardboard boxes must be taped closed. Please notify custodial services or place a note on the box for removal.

How do I dispose of pipettes?

Glass Pasteur pipettes must be disposed of in a sharps container. Contaminated plastic serological pipettes must be disposed in a container displaying the appropriate label (e.g. Radioactive, Biological or Chemical). Non-contaminated plastic serological pipettes must be placed in a plastic-lined cardboard box. When the box is full, it should be taped up for removal by custodial staff. More information is available in our Plastic Pipette Packaging and Disposal Procedures Guide.

How often does EH&S inspect laboratories?

Your Department Safety Advisor (DSA) conducts laboratory inspections quarterly.

What safety training do I need to take?

Safety training is required for all laboratory staff. Please refer to the “What training is needed?” matrix to determine which safety training applies to you.

Whom do I contact to have fume hood for biosafety cabinet certification?

Fume hood certification is conducted by technicians from UCSF Environment, Health & Safety. Please call (415) 476-1771 at Parnassus or (415) 514-4107 at Mission Bay/SFGH to have your fume hood certified. Biosafety cabinet certification can be performed by Technical Safety Services or Adapt Certification.

When do I add or remove users to authorizations?

All new laboratory workers must be added to laboratory research authorizations before they start bench work. Users should be removed when they leave the laboratory.

Where do I submit an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)?

EAP can be submitted online at UCSF Police Department.


How do I dispose of biohazardous waste/sharps?

Please call (415) 476-1771 at Parnassus or (415) 514-4107 at Mission Bay to coordinate biohazards/waste sharps disposal. See detailed CHART for procedures.

Where do I get the hepatitis B forms for new employees?

The hepatitis B vaccination or declination form is available from UCSF Occupational Health Services.

How do I store biohazardous waste?

Biohazardous waste must be stored in a hard-sided leak-proof container that is labeled. In laboratories this is generally a small red waste container purchased by the lab. The gray 35 gallon waste containers are provided by UCSF Environment, Health and Safety. To request additional containers, please contact your Department Safety Advisor. See list of recommended laboratory medical waste containers

How do I get a BSL2 lab/tissue culture room floor cleaned?

Contact Facilities Services to open a custodial work order to clean the floor in your BSL2/tissue culture room. Before custodial staff can enter, all biohazardous waste (including liquid-filled vacuum flasks and sharps containers, etc.) must be removed.

Can I transport biological materials between campuses?

Transport of frozen and/or active biological materials (Risk Group 1 or 2) between UCSF campus locations within San Francisco city limits is permitted. This process may not be used to transfer biomaterials between different UC campuses or to other off-site destinations (including UCSF affiliates located outside of San Francisco) without approval from the Biosafety Officer. Those with Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratories must call the UCSF Biosafety Officer (BSO) for special instructions.

How can I ship/import/export biological materials?

Instructions for the shipping (import and export) of biological materials are available in the UCSF Biosafety manual. For questions that are not addressed in the biosafety manual, please contact the Biosafety Officer.

Who needs to take safe shipping training?

Anyone packaging, handling, shipping or transporting biological material, and dry ice must receive training. UCSF requires refresher training every two years. Contact your Department Safety Advisor for instructions on shipping radioactive materials or chemicals.

Who is allowed to work in a lab (researchers, volunteers, collaborators, etc.), and what do they need before they are allowed to start work?

Staff, volunteers, students, post-doctoral scholars, and collaborators are all allowed to work in a lab and they have been added to the appropriate use authorization. New laboratory workers must complete the New Employee Safety Orientation checklist and other necessary training prior to being added to use authorization. Minors are permitted in laboratories in a restricted capacity. 

When is a Biological Use Authorization modification required?

Modifications to a BUA can be either administrative (adding rooms or staff), or involve adding materials such as blood borne pathogens, infectious agents, toxins, or recombinant DNA.

How do I dispose of toxic or toxin-containing waste?

Biological toxins are disposed of as chemical waste. Please generate a tag via WASTe.

Chemical Safety

How do I request a chemical waste pickup?

Chemical waste pickups can be requested by generating a tag in WASTe.

When do I need to submit chemical inventory? What needs to be listed on the chemical inventory?

Online chemical inventories must be updated and submitted annually. New laboratories should submit an inventory before starting bench work. Inventories are accessible in UC Chemicals and must list all chemicals which may pose a physical or health hazard.

How do I dispose of empty chemical containers?

What chemicals can I pour down the drain?

How do I store hazardous chemicals?

Hazardous substances must be stored in containers which are chemically inert and appropriate for the type and quantity of the hazardous substance. Incompatible substances must be separated via secondary containment or appropriate chemical cabinets. Refer to Safe Storage of Hazardous Chemicalsfor more information.

Where can I procure pocketed waste tags?

Adhesive waste container tags are available from your Department Safety Advisor

 Radiation Safety

How do I dispose of radioactive waste?

Radioactive waste requests can be made in Research Information Online (RIO). After logging in, click the “Radioisotope: Inventory, Receipt, Waste, Transfer, Adjustment” link. Never dispose of radioactive waste down the drain.

How do I dispose of uranyl acetate?

Laboratories with an active Radioactive Use Authorization (RUA) can request a pickup of uranyl acetate in Research Information Online (RIO). Laboratories that do not have a Radioactive Use Authorization can request a pickup by calling (415) 476-1771(Parnassus), (415) 502-1129 (Mt. Zion), or (415) 514-4107 (Mission Bay, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and all other locations).

How do I apply for a radiation dosimetry badge or ring?

New users requiring dosimetry should submit a Dosimetry Request Form. For deleted users who were receiving dosimetry, email [email protected] to discontinue dosimetry.

Who do I notify about a lost dosimeter?

Please fill out and submit a Lost Dosimeter Report and email the form to [email protected] 

I am pregnant and work around radiation. Who can I talk to about making sure my baby is monitored?

Please contact Radiation Safety by phone (415-476-1300)  or email ([email protected]). A Form Letter for Declaring Pregnancy can be sent by campus mail to mail code #0942. Declaring your pregnancy is optional, but recommended so we can assist you in making safety recommendations for you and your baby. Confidentiality is our first priority, and we will not disclose this information to anyone without your permission. If a fetal dosimeter badge is issued, it can be mailed to you individually; or if preferred, with the rest of your department’s regular radiation badges.

For reference: The occupational exposure limit for a radiation worker’s embryo/fetus while pregnant is 500 mrem for the duration of the pregnancy (versus 5,000 mrem per year for all other users). After a pregnancy has been declared, radiation safety will issue a monthly fetal dosimetry badge to be worn beneath any radiation protective garments. Users who approach the 500 mrem fetal limit may be no longer be permitted to work with radiation for the remainder of their pregnancy.


What precautions are recommended for safe laser usage?

Safety precautions will vary depending on laser classification, wavelength, source (point vs. extended), and laser application such as operation, maintenance, and service. For example, eyewear that is appropriate for one laser control area may not provide protection in another. Users should always follow the instructions printed on laser warning signs before entering a Laser Control Area.

Warning signs are required to be posted at the point where a user would have access to a Laser Controlled Area, in a way that would provide adequate notice to the user entering the area.

If you are a laser user, refer to the Standard Operating Procedures for your lab as often as necessary and complete the online laser safety training annually.

If you are a manager or Principal Investigator, you have the fundamental responsibility to ensure the safe use of lasers owned by and/or operated in facilities under your control. If you have not already done so, please enroll yourself in the UCSF laser safety program if your have Class 3b or Class 4 laser in your lab. For more information please contact the Laser Safety Officer, Nicole Robinson at 415-994-6792.

Our lab uses a Liquid Scintillation Counter (LSC). How often should standards be run on the LSC?

Standards should be run as per manufacturer recommendations. The frequency is typically weekly or monthly, but will depend on how often you use the LSC. If you are running a lot of samples daily, you may run the standards daily or weekly. If you run samples only a few times per month, you may run the standards weekly or monthly.

Our radiation survey meter is our of calibration. How do I get it recalibrated?

Geiger counters needing calibration can be taken to Long Hospital, Room 235 at Parnassus;  or Genentech Hall, Room N121 at Mission Bay;  between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.




EHS Categories

Environmental Safety Occupational Safety Labs and Research Safety Hazardous Waste Fire and Life Safety