Calling All Volunteers by Chris Pitoscia, Manager of Research Safety Programs

Is your laboratory inspection ready?  Care to find out?  In conjunction with the 2014 Research Safety Campaign, EH&S has engaged an independent, third-party consulting firm, to assist in assessing the “health” of the University’s research safety program.  The consultant that will accompany EH&S on the laboratory assessments has successfully completed numerous safety and environmental audits at the University over the past decade, both inside and outside of the laboratories, and their independent observations have proven helpful to Columbia in continuing to build strong safety and environmental programs.  The scope of the assessment will include the University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan, the laboratories’ LATCH, availability, selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the storage and use of hazardous gases, academic machine shop safety, and other laboratory safety program elements. 

If you wish to volunteer your laboratory for an assessment, please email Subject: Volunteer Lab Audit.  EH&S will attempt to integrate as many volunteer laboratories into the overall selection of laboratories, and yes, EH&S may randomly select your laboratory for an assessment even if you do not volunteer.

Environmentally Preferable Waste Management Practices by Shane Son, Hazardous Materials Specialist

EH&S’ Hazardous Materials Team has initiated a University-wide initiative to examine environmentally preferable laboratory waste management practices.  This strategy will include the traditional assessment of laboratory Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAAs) for conformance with the University’s 5 Ls of Hazardous Waste Management, as well as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) regulations, to ensure that laboratory wastes do not pose a health or environmental hazard.  Additionally, EH&S will be inquiring about laboratory waste reduction and recycling practices and seeking feedback on, as well as offering suggestions for, possible enhancements to further reduce the University’s environmental footprint. 

To help prepare your laboratory for our visit, please ensure that chemical waste, regulated medical waste and radioactive waste are managed in accordance with University guidelines.  Additionally, please give thought to your laboratory’s overall purchasing and waste disposal practices, specifically, whether you are doing everything feasible to be environmentally responsible in your purchasing and disposal habits.  EH&S will be following up on your answers to these questions as we continue to pursue opportunities to become an even more environmentally sustainable institution.

For more information, please visit and click on the Waste Management and Recycling section or contact the Hazardous Materials team at

Summer Students and Interns

As summer break approaches, EH&S would like to remind the research community to review the University’s Guidelines for Short-term Visitors in Research-Related Activities, with emphasis on the presence of minors and interns in laboratories.  The full policy can be viewed @


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