By the Numbers by Tasha Hightower – Research Safety Program

All laboratories in NYC require a FDNY permit and an annual inspection to operate. The FDNY Laboratory Unit performs regular, weekly inspections in all chemical laboratories across Columbia University's New York City campuses and has the authority to issue Violation Orders or Notices of Violation for non-compliance with fire code requirements. Each year the department tracks the number of violations and uses this data as an identifier for EH&S program initiatives.

Improper Storage of Chemicals, as a general category, is the single greatest challenge the University faces with respect to FDNY laboratory inspections. Storage of materials in non-rated refrigerators is the #1 finding at the Medical Center and the #2 finding at Morningside. Flammable chemicals (liquids with a flash point of less than 60 °C and capable of sustaining combustion) may only be stored in an approved refrigerators or freezer specifically designed to safely store such materials, and never in cold rooms. No matter the concentration, quantity, and/or duration of storage, flammable liquids must never be stored in refrigerators or freezers that are not properly rated. As an alternative, a wet or dry ice-bath may be an option for temporarily cooling samples of flammable liquids.

EH&S is pleased to report that over the past three years the number of FDNY violations written to labs for not having a Certificate of Fitness (C-14) holder present during the time of the inspection has declined 45%. This is a huge accomplishment and we want to thank the research community for continuing to enroll your laboratory personnel in the C-14 program. This is becoming even more important now that FDNY is performing unannounced laboratory inspections on weekends and "off hours". See FAQs Concerning FDNY Certificate of Fitness (C-14) for Laboratories (in this edition of SafetyMatters) for more information on how to obtain a Certificate of Fitness or visit

The Radiation Safety Office @ CUMC is Moving! by Bithi Roy – Radiation Safety Program

We are moving! As you may have heard, EH&S and the Radiation Safety Program offices will be relocating this Spring to 601 West 168st from the Allan Rosenfield Building. We are actively developing strategies to minimize any potential disruption to ordering and receipt of radioactive materials, training, quarterly RAM audit scheduling, and to continue to provide the research community with the service you have come to expect.

Quarterly laboratory audits and safety training will continue as scheduled. A new process for the receipt and delivery of radioactive packages, as well as survey meter calibration, including pick-up and drop-off is being developed. Additional information from the Radiation Safety Officer will be forthcoming prior to the move.

If your laboratory needs to borrow a survey meter please contact Bithi Roy (br2280) or Jeff Leavey (jl4025) to set up an appointment. Thyroid uptake monitoring and urine analysis will also continue to be on a by-appointment basis. If you have any comments, suggestions or concerns, please send them to us by email via

Vision Statement

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) provides expert guidance and timely service to the University Community through our commitment to health and safety. Employing best practices and collaboration, and by building long term relationships, we promote a productive and safety conscious work environment.

sweat Editorial Staff: Kathleen Crowley, Chris Pettinato, Chris Pitoscia
Graphics, Design, Lay-out: Jean Lee
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