Lab Inspections

 Lab Safety General Lab Safety Inspection Program

EH&S lab safety specialists inspect labs with hazardous materials or operations. Labs within the College of Chemistry are inspected twice per year and all other labs annually. During inspections, lab safety specialists help researchers stay abreast of current safety requirements by providing consultation, support, and resources. Inspection topics cover training, chemical safety, equipment safety, fire safety, and housekeeping.

What to Expect

For a closer look at what EH&S will be checking for in labs this year, see the inspection questions. Reviewing the EH&S lab self-inspection checklistis another good way to prepare for inspections. The department safety coordinator for each department or an EH&S lab safety specialist will reach out to each lab to schedule an inspection time. Contact the campus chemical hygiene officer at (510) 643-6381 or with any questions or concerns about the EH&S General Lab Safety Inspection Program.

After the Inspection

EH&S lab safety specialists will follow up with each lab regarding any issues that were noted during the inspection. It is the lab’s responsibility to correct issues, mark them as resolved, and provide proof of corrective action in the inspection report online. Labs have 30 days to resolve any issues, after which outstanding findings will be compiled quarterly and sent to the chair and dean of the appropriate academic unit for their review. The results of the inspections are subject to the UC Policy, Enforcement of Safety Standards in Academic Environments, which provides a procedure to address persistent non-compliance in labs.

2024 General Lab Safety Inspection Questions

Download a PDF version

Administrative and Training

  1. Is the roster in Labs @ Berkeley (L@B) current?

  2. Are EHS 101/103 Laboratory Safety FundamentalsEHS 106 Spill Response and Workplace Safetycompleted by all staff members, including the PI? Have all members acknowledged the LHAT and completed PPE training?

  3. Have all the lab members working on campus completed EHS 207 COVID-19 Training?

  4. Has the PI certified the Lab Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT)(link is external) within the last year?

  5. Has a self-inspection been completed and filed online within the last calendar year?

  6. Is the chemical hygiene plan (CHP) read, signed, and understood by all members and posted in a visible location?

  7. Are all applicable standard operating procedures (SOPs) read, understood, and signed?

  8. Does the lab have a chemical abbreviation guide posted?

  9. Have lab members been trained on the building emergency action plan (EAP), if one is in place? (For EH&S Data Purposes Only)

Chemical and Equipment Safety

  1. Are all hazardous waste containers labeled with current Hazardous Waste Program (HWP) labels?

  2. Are all hazardous waste containers kept closed except when adding waste?

  3. Are all hazardous chemicals stored below eye level and do open shelves have appropriate rigid lip?

  4. Are incompatible chemicals stored separately?

  5. Are chemicals stored appropriately in cabinets or shelving? (not on the floor)

  6. Is secondary containment used where appropriate (particularly for flammables and corrosives)?

  7. Are chemical containers in good condition with legible labels?

  8. Are peroxide formers and other time-sensitive chemicals within the appropriate timeframe for use?

  9. Are fume hood baffles kept clear for airflow?

  10. Are flammable materials stored in appropriate cabinets or rated fridges? Only 10 gallons of flammable material may be stored outside of such storage locations.

  11. Are all empty containers defaced of all identifiers, triple rinsed, and marked "EMPTY"?

  12. Are temporary chemical containers labeled with chemical identity and hazard class?

  13. Is the most current chemical inventory door sign posted at the lab entrance(s)?

  14. Has the chemical inventory been certified within the last calendar year?

  15. Does the lab have access to appropriate materials to contain or clean a small-scale spill?

PPE, Physical Hazards, and Equipment

  1. Are sharps (needles, scalpels, razors, etc.) stored properly and not left loose?

  2. Are sharps disposal containers properly labeled?

  3. Are furnishings and equipment ( >4' tall or weighing >400 lbs) appropriately secured?

  4. Are all cylinders over 26 inches tall secured to a rigid structure at 1/3 and 2/3 the height, with non-combustible restraints? (One restraint for cylinders <26" tall)

  5. Are all emergency eyewashes flush tested monthly?

  6. Is access to emergency eyewashes and showers unobstructed?

  7. Are all lab members currently observing the minimum requirements of the laboratory dress code?

  8. Are lab members using appropriate PPE while hazardous materials are in active use? Minimum PPE includes gloves, eyewear, and labcoat.

  9. Is PPE kept clean and intact? This applies to lab coats and other reusable PPE such as cryo/oven gloves, or face shields.

  10. Are items stored on high shelves sufficiently secured by a shelf lip or other type of restraint?

  11. Does the lab keep up to date user guides and training records for machinery, tools, or other shop-type equipment?

Electrical Safety

  1. Are outer sheaths of flexible cords undamaged?

  2. Are electrical lines and cords properly managed and not in walkways or places where they can cause tripping hazards?

  3. Is there a minimum clearance of 36" maintained in front of electrical panels?

  4. Are power strips and extension cords used appropriately to avoid daisy chaining and overloading circuits? Are large appliances plugged directly into wall?

Fire Safety

  1. Is 18 inches of clearance provided from the top of stored materials to the ceiling in laboratories with fire sprinklers (24 inches if no sprinklers are present)? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at sends e-mail)

  2. Are aisles and exits clear of obstructions and slip or trip hazards? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at sends e-mail)

  3. Does the group conduct and document monthly visual inspections for all fire extinguishers located in their lab spaces? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at sends e-mail)

  4. Is access to portable fire extinguishers free of obstructions? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at sends e-mail)

  5. Are incompatible gases adequately separated (e.g., oxygen and flammables)? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at sends e-mail)

  6. Are all fire doors kept closed and unobstructed? For all questions and follow-up issues regarding this item, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at


  1. Does the lab have written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for handling biohazardous materials and infectious pathogens? Are these all read, understood and signed by all applicable lab members?

  2. Are bio-safety signs all up-to-date and posted in appropriate locations?

  3. Do all bio-safety cabinets have a current annual certification?

Other Items/Housekeeping

  1. Are food, drinks, and all other related items (utensils, dishes, water bottles, etc.) stored outside of areas designated for use/storage of hazardous materials?

  2. If the lab has an existing designated food-and-drink area, does it meet EH&S guidelines?

  3. Is the lab designed so that surfaces and furniture are non-porous, for easy disinfection? ( carpet, no cloth furniture)

  4. Are waste collection flasks appropriately stored, labeled, and regularly emptied? Are vacuum lines appropriately protected with in-line hydrophobic filters?

  5. If the lab has a first aid kit, are the contents regularly inspected by a staff member?

  6. Does the lab have good housekeeping? Are work surfaces unobstructed and research materials readily accessible?

  7. Are there other safety concerns observed which are not addressed in this checklist?

Lab Safety Inspection FAQ


How is EH&S helping to ensure that campus is following COVID-19 Safety guidelines?

What is EHS 502: Workplace Safety Program and why do I have to take it?

California state regulations require every employer to have an effective injury prevention program. To satisfy this requirement, all lab personnel are required to complete the EHS Workplace Safey Program - a one-time mandatory training that includes information on responsibilities, analyzing hazards and applying controls, what to do in a campus emergency, and resources available...

What training can I access from the Labs At Berkeley (L@B)?

The following training can be accessed through the Labs At Berkeley (L@B): Lab Safety Fundamentals (EHS 101), Spill Response (EHS 206), Workplace Safety Program (UC Learning Center) and ...

Chemical and Equipment Safety

Where can I find guidance on how to properly store chemicals?

Chemicals should always be segregated and stored based on their chemical class and compatibility. Storage requirements such as allocated area, shelving, cabinets and secondary storage should be taken into consideration. See the document Safe Storage of Hazardous Chemicals found on the Resources and Guides page for more information on this topic.

When should I label my waste container?

Label your chemical waste container as soon as you start collecting waste. Every container must be labeled with a Hazardous Waste Program (HWP) label. Starting from the first day waste begins accumulating, you have six months before EH&S needs to come to pick it up.

Why do I have to test my emergency eyewash?

Rust can accumulate in water pipes. Testing eyewashes ensure clean water is available in an emergency. Flush test your eyewashes on a monthly basis by slowly pushing the handle away from you until water is flowing freely and you see that the stream(s) will be able to effectively rinse your eyes. Let it run for 15 seconds. Mark the eyewash tag with your initials and the date; including the year. For eyewashes that do not have plumbed drains, use a small basin capable of holding the drained water while flush testing the eyewash for 15 seconds. All eyewashes, whether they have a drain...

Electrical and Engineering Safety

What do I do when I encounter cords with damaged outer sheaths?

Flexible cords should be repaired or replaced if the outer sheath is damaged such that any conductor insulation or conductor is exposed. The use of electrical tape to repair cords with exposed wiring is not a substitute for insulation provided by an intact sheath. exposed wire

Fire Safety

It takes a lot of effort to keep aisles and exits clear in our busy, crowded lab. Why is it so important?

EH&S wants you to get out of your lab safely in an emergency. A good question to ask yourself is: “Could I quickly and safely get out of my lab in the dark?” Maintain a minimum of 36 inches clearance in aisles at all times and never block required exits with equipment, boxes, or other items (required exits have a lighted “exit” sign above the door).

How far apart do incompatible gases need to be?

Flammable gases (e.g., hydrogen, methane, propane, acetylene) and oxygen (or other oxidizing gases) must be separated by 20 feet or by a non-combustible partition extending 18 inches above and to the sides of stored gas cylinders. Cylinders should be positioned so that the label with the name of the gas and its hazard is clearly visible. Gas cylinders are often difficult to reach; in an emergency, first responders need to see what they’re dealing with as quickly as possible.

Why do I need to keep so much space between our stored materials and the ceiling?

For fire sprinklers to work properly, they must not be blocked in any way such that their spray pattern is impeded. There needs to be enough room for the spray from fire hoses to reach throughout the room. Any storage within 18” of sprinklered areas or 24” of non-sprinklered areas of the ceiling must remain clear, except when the storage is along a wall.

Other Items/Housekeeping

What criteria does EH&S use to review clean areas (i.e., areas not designated for the use/storage of hazardous materials)?

We consider what hazardous materials may be present in a room. If there are hazardous materials present, we then look at what kind of separation is possible. Discussions can be had with your lab safety specialist or start a conversation by reaching out to