Want Some Safety with that Burger? Summer BBQ Tips

Barbequing is an essential element of warm weather activities for many people, but it carries with it some hazards.  With  just a few simple, precautionary steps, you can enjoy a safe cookout, every time. 

  • Never grill indoors.  Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of combustion, can cause rapid asphyxiation. 
  • Before cooking, roll up your sleeves and use oven mitts.  Loose-fitting clothes can ignite if they contact a hot surface; if clothes catch fire STOP-DROP-and ROLL.  
  • Keep grills at least 10 feet from any structure or any combustible material.*
  • Grills may NOT to be used on a building roof.  Hot coals may cause a roof fire capable of dropping into the attic or top floor of the building.*
  • A minimum of two 2 1/2 gallon pressurized water extinguishers, a sixteen quart pail of water, or a charged water hose must be present during grill use.*

For Charcoal Grills 

  • Do not use lighter fluid-Columbia University policy requires the use of “Match Light”-type charcoal on campus.  If you use lighter fluid, do not use it on coals that are already lit.  Flames can travel up the stream of fluid, igniting the can as it is being held. 
  • Operate charcoal grills AWAY from air intakes near campus structures.  Even after the coals are extinguished, they will still produce carbon monoxide for an extended period of time.

For Gas Grills

  • Propane cylinders may not be refilled within New York City limits or transported into New York City via tunnels or lower levels of bridges.   
  • Keep tanks upright, and move gas hoses away from dripping grease and hot surfaces.
  • NEVER use cigarettes, lighters, or matches near your gas grill, whether it is in use or not. You cannot be sure that there  is not a slight gas leak somewhere in the unit, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Biosafety: What we’ve seen lately

EH&S periodically surveys laboratories in an effort to ensure safe working conditions for all members of the Columbia research community and to maintain compliance with a host of regulatory requirements.  The following items are among the most commonly cited biosafety-related findings:

  • Regulated Medical Waste Management – Only those items that belong in the RMW waste stream should be disposed of in your lab’s red bags and sharps containers.  Due to their ability to easily tear through a red bag, serological pipettes and micropipette tips should be discarded only in a sharps container.  http://ehs.columbia.edu/MedWaste.html
  • Biosafety Cabinet Certification – The biosafety cabinet is the primary engineering control for working with potentially infectious materials.  BSCs protect lab workers from laboratory-acquired infection AND protect research materials from contamination.  Laboratories are required by University policy and federal regulation, to annually certify biosafety cabinets to ensure that they are operating properly.  http://ehs.columbia.edu/bsccert.html
  • Vacuum Line Protection – Whenever the laboratory vacuum system or a vacuum pump is used for aspiration of potentially infectious materials, the vacuum line must be protected by a collection flask and a filtration device.  The filter prevents contamination of building plumbing by biological aerosols that are not captured in the collection flask.  http://www.fishersci.com/wps/portal/PRODUCTDETAIL?aid=107084  http://www.cdc.gov/OD/ohs/biosfty/bmbl5/BMBL_5th_Edition.pdf (see p. 339)
  • rDNA Registration – The construction and use of recombinant DNA molecules in research at Columbia is regulated by the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules.  To ensure compliance, all rDNA work, including in vitro-only protocols, must be described in a submission to the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee.  A Hazardous Materials Appendix A can be completed and submitted electronically to the IBC via the RASCAL system.  https://www.rascal.columbia.edu/hazmatlogin.html

While EH&S thoroughly reviews these and other areas during your annual lab survey, you and your important research materials will be far better off if you spend a few moments now to address these biosafety topics.

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