Undergraduate Program in Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences, Lehigh University

Safety and Security Guidelines

Basic Rules Safety Equipment Common Failings


Safety Contacts & Responders
Lee Graham, Safety Officer 610-758-5683
Linda Lowe-Krentz, Ph.D., Chair 610-758-3680
Margaret Kenna, Ph.D., Lab Manager (STEPS) 610-758-3685
Environmental Health and Safety 610-758-4251
Lehigh Police 610-758-4200
City of Bethlehem Emergency 7-911 (in house dial 9 first)
Poison Control 7-311 (in house dial 9 first)
    1. Gloves and goggles/glasses must be worn when working in the laboratory.  Depending on activities and chemicals in use, safety-approved lab coats should be worn, open shoes and shorts should not be worn.  Know the safety concerns and equipment in the lab area. 
    2. No eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or smoking is allowed in teaching or research labs and areas where hazardous materials are stored or used.  Smoking is NOT permitted anywhere in Iacocca Hall.
    3. Reagents, equipment, and samples should not be stored in chemical fume hoods or biological safety cabinets because such storage can interfere with the effectiveness of the hood as a safety device.
    4. All biohazardous, hazardous, and radioactive materials must be properly labeled and stored. Use flammable and acid storage cabinets when appropriate. Access to Material Safety Data Sheets [MSDS information] should be readily available where the materials are used.
    5. All items remaining in core/equipment rooms need to be properly labeled with the lab/user name, identity of chemical/agent, date of preparation, and instructions for storage & disposal.  Failure to label items properly will create hazard and expense for others.  Decontamination and disposal of ill defined materials is expensive and insulting to the environment.
    6. Stairways, hallways, exits, and access to emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, safety showers, and eyewash fountains must be kept clear.
    7. Do not store food or drinks in refrigerators, freezers, or containers designated for chemical, biohazardous, or radioactive storage.
    8. Compressed gas cylinders must be secured at all times, including during transport and when empty. Cylinder caps must be in place when the cylinder is not in use.  Users should complete compressed gas training.  Users of liquid nitrogen or other cryogenics must complete the Lehigh training course.
    9. Laboratory coats and other protective clothing worn in the laboratory area should not be worn outside the laboratory. When transporting experimental samples from one area to another, the sample should be in an enclosed container making protective clothing not necessary.
    10. Sandals, open-toed, or open-heeled shoes should not be worn in the laboratory.
    11. Do not pipette by mouth.
    12. Never dispose of a hazardous, biohazardous, or radioactive substance down the drain or in the trash unless you have been specifically authorized to do so by the EH&S and/or the instructor or laboratory supervisor.  Chemical waste handling, chemical waste disposal, and right-to-know regulations should be followed.  “Sharps” include pipet tips, microscope slides, needles, etc., should be collected in designated containers.  Following preliminary decontamination, biohazardous waste is collected in labeled Red or Orange bags.  Hazardous waste disposal is financially and environmentally expensive, and requires special processing after it leaves your hands.  Never mix hazardous and regular waste.  Wastestream awareness and training is appropriate for most laboratories. 
    13. Laboratory areas should not be left unattended unless the area has been secured.  Carry your keys at all times.  When you see laboratories shared facilities unlocked, please lock them!  Trained and authorized users are responsible for their own access. 
    14. Report any accidental exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or injection), injury, or spills to your instructor/supervisor immediately.  Incident reports and follow up actions are required for certain events. Remedies and prevention of future incidents should be considered.
    15. Understand laboratory services and infrastructure.  Eg., check drains and run water to fill plumbing drain traps to block vapors.  Investigate and report odors.  Choose the safest strategy, not the easiest.  Know the proper cleanup/disposal protocol before you begin a task.  Design protocols that minimize hazards.  Clean up/decontaminate immediately.   Don’t leave guesswork for others.
    16. Do not use instruments or preparation facilities without specific training and authorization.  Sign in/out.  Label materials in use in shared facilities.  Do not share your access/permissions with others.
    17. Document your training and retraining on safety and good practices.  New members of the Department should attend the series “Responsible Conduct of Science” at the first opportunity.  Graduate students should register for this as BioS 408, a zero credit course that will appear on the transcript.  Numerous training options are available through Environmental Health & Safety. Specific training requirements and regulations apply for Human Subjects, Animal Welfare, Radioactive Materials, Bloodborne Pathogens, Biohazard and Infection Control, etc.  You have legal as well as professional responsibilities, and you can be held liable for your errors including negligence.  Know your responsibilities and act proactively!
    18. Recognize who belongs and who does not.  Offer attention to those who don’t or those who need help or training. 
    19. The university has established a voluntary confidential registry of cellular telephone numbers so that official messages and updates can be sent in the event of a campuswide security or communications emergency. This resource will not be used for any other purposes.  Please consider/register/update your participation in this database. 

Fire Extinguishers

There are four different types of fires- try to anticipate what types of risks are present in your work area/assignment:

  • Type A - ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and many plastics
  • Type B - flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, grease, tar, oil-based paint, lacquer, and flammable gas
  • Type C - energized electrical equipment, including wiring, computers, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances
  • Type D - combustible metals such as magnesium and potassium

Most of the fire extinguishers on our campus are ABC, which can be used on any of the above types of fires except Type D. Be sure to not use a water fire extinguisher on a Type C (electrical) fire.  In the event of a fire, immediately call one of the following:

  • Fire/Police 9-911
  • Campus police 8-4200
  • EH&S 8-4251

Use stairwells, not elevators, to exit buildings. If you choose to use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS:

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim the discharge toward the base of the flames
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep from side to side

Do not aim the fire extinguisher directly onto the source, as it may spread the flames. Begin approximately 8-10 feet away from the flames.
Be safe! Know in advance the following:

  • where the fire alarm boxes are in your area
  • where the exit routes are in your area
  • where the extinguishers are located

Fume Hoods & Biological Safety Cabinets

Fume hoods exhaust to the outside, removing and diluting vapors.  Biological Safety Cabinets or Laminar Flow Hoods recirculate air that has been sterilized with a HEPA filter [high efficiency particle filter].  Both types can be compromised or used inappropriately, which might create serious hazards.  Be sure to understand proper functioning and applications before using them.  Do not use these areas for storage!  Objects that disrupt the air flow compromise safe use.

Safety Showers

Safety showers are designed to flood the entire body in the event of a clothing fire or a major spill of hazardous liquid. In either case, the victim should stand under the shower and activate the shower by pulling on the chain. In the case of a hazardous liquid spill, remove that portion of the clothing affected to reduce potential contact while under the shower. After using the safety shower, notify your instructor or laboratory supervisor as soon as possible and obtain medical care immediately.  Please note that there are no floor drains for showers in Iacocca Hall, so activation requires follow up attention.

Eyewash Fountains- know their locations

If a chemical splash in the eyes occurs, use the nearest eyewash fountain for immediate and thorough washing of the eyes. Push the handle down, then use your hands to open the eyelids to ensure thorough flushing. Always flood the eyes for at least 15 minutes to be sure there is no residue of the chemical. To stop the flow of water, pull the handle back. After thorough washing, notify your instructor or laboratory supervisor and obtain medical care immediately, even if there appears to be no damage.  To confirm proper function, freshness and pressure, it is beneficial to operate eyewash fountains routinely, flush them periodically. 




Water can cause lots of damage, and it happens too often!  Blocked drains, failed tubing, forgot to turn off the faucet, accidentally pulled the emergency shower chain, overflowing stills, etc., we’ve seen them all!  Think about failure before it happens.
Food & beverages in the lab.  Behave like a professional. 


Nasty & suspicious odors are distracting at best, but may be very dangerous!  Anticipate, prevent, react to odors.  These events have been common.

Residual hazards

Our custodial crews need to dispose of trash and move through laboratories safely.  Do not put broken glass into the regular trash- dispose in special labeled containers, or wrap and label clearly for special attention.  Keep pathways through lab spaces clear and free of hazards.

Improper use of gloves

People have reported concern at seeing lab gloves in the public or common areas of the building, including hallways, stairways, elevators, computer sites, rest rooms, etc.  Avoid this when possible, and do not handle  telephones, computers, etc. with gloves, especially gloves that may be dirty.  Decontaminate your doorhandles, telephones, keyboards, eyeglasses routinely. 

Spills, breakage, and accidents are common

Don’t play hero, get help before it gets worse!

revised June, 2007


Bottom Photo

Won't you help invest in our undergraduate research efforts??

Click here to make your gift! Be sure to designate "Biological Sciences" as the recipient!

Biological Sciences
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone: 610-758-3680
Fax: 610-758-4004
Email: inbios@lehigh.edu