A+ Effort by Keith Bottum, Sr. Hazardous Materials Specialist & Lab Sustainability Coordinator
During Fall 2014, EH&S’s Hazardous Materials Team initiated a University-wide effort to evaluate chemical, radioactive and regulated medical waste compliance in all laboratory spaces. These surveys indicated an impressive rate of 92% overall compliance with laboratory waste management practices.
Coincidentally, during the same period, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) conducted a 2-day unannounced inspection of select laboratories and chemical waste storage rooms at the Morningside campus. NYSDEC had no findings and made no recommendations during the inspection.
Three months later, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated a 3-day unannounced inspection at the Medical Center. EPA visited a representative sample of laboratories in Irving Cancer Research Center, Russ Berrie Pavilion and Vanderbilt Clinic. Similar to NYSDEC’s inspection at Morningside, EPA had no findings and made no waste management recommendations at the Medical Center.
These favorable regulatory inspection outcomes validated the results of the assessment EH&S performed during Fall 2014 and come as no surprise. EH&S extends a sincere “thank you” to the entire University research community for your continued commitment to following best management practice standards and helping University laboratories remain “inspection-ready” at all times.
EPA intends to return in Summer 2015 to conclude the CUMC inspection and will visit laboratories in Black Building, Physicians & Surgeons and Vanderbilt Clinic. EH&S is actively working with laboratories in these buildings to refresh them on waste management practices in preparation for EPA’s return. In addition, EH&S will re-emphasize several laboratory hygiene practices that were observed during the first round of EPA’s inspection. These topics include chemical segregation and storage, the use of flammable materials cabinets and secondary containment, and general laboratory housekeeping to ensure alignment with University guidance and best practices.
Thank you once again, and we look forward to continued collaboration with our partners in the research community, and to providing the knowledge and resources to ensure a safe and healthy research environment and “inspection-readiness.”
Children and Minors in University Laboratories by Research Safety
As summer approaches, EH&S would like to remind the Columbia University research community about the University’s Policy regarding the presence of children and minors in laboratories.
No one under the age of 14 is allowed into a Columbia University Laboratory at any time, unless present on an organized tour or field trip for strictly observational purposes. Even if a child is under the supervision of a parent or guardian, their presence is strictly prohibited. In addition, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to handle human blood, human cell lines or “other potentially infectious materials,” research animals, or be left unattended in a lab.
Please note, children are also prohibited from offices that are located within a laboratory. Safety in University research operations is a top priority and is the driver for this policy. EH&S thanks you in advance for your understanding and continued cooperation in promoting and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. For more information please refer to page five of the Guidelines for Short-term Visitors in Research-related and Clinical Activities located @ http://evpr.columbia.edu/files/evpr/pdf/Guidelines_for_Short-term_Visitors.pdf.
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