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Two people in lab coats with safety glasses
Photo courtesy of the UNC-Chapel Hill Multimedia Library.

In the American Chemical Society’s report on “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions,” the task force committee emphasizes teaching basic laboratory and chemical safety through continuous learning. This includes building safety into the curriculum year after year, starting with undergraduate courses and through the graduate student curriculum. The result will be chemistry students graduating with superior safety skills and a strong safety ethic.

At UNC, the EHS Chemical Safety team tries to participate as much as possible in classroom lectures and trainings to emphasize the importance of safety and improve the University’s safety culture. The department accomplishes this by offering to participate in a variety of courses across campus. In 2016, Chemical Safety personnel provided training to incoming Chemistry teaching assistants during a training week with Morehead Chemistry Teaching Laboratories.

EHS personnel also gave a safety lecture to an upper level undergraduate Chemistry class (CHEM 550L) that focuses on hazard identification and risk assessment. Since 2014, EHS Chemical Safety has participated in a graduate level safety course that is led by the chair of the Chemistry Department Safety Committee. This for-credit graduate level course focuses on safety references and resources to ensure that new graduate students understand the importance of safety at the University and have the resources to be safe during their educational experience.

The Chemical Safety team is always searching for opportunities to participate in trainings and courses across campus and supports the American Chemical Society’s philosophy that safety culture happens through continuous learning. Employee safety is a core focus of EHS, and our efforts to develop a culture of safety is one more way to make UNC a safe place to teach, learn and serve.

Although Chapel Hill is not adjacent to the coast, hurricanes have caused devastation in the area due to high winds and flooding. There have also been tornadoes in the area and both hurricanes and tornadoes can threaten the safety of laboratory personnel and detrimentally effect research operations in campus laboratories.

In 2016, the EHS Chemical and Laboratory Safety department generated a new Hurricane and Tornado Preparedness for UNC Laboratories webpage. The webpage highlights what labs should do in case of a Hurricane or Tornado Watch versus a Hurricane or Tornado Warning.

Performance measurement is a critical part of the EHS management system. Education, customer service and internal processes are the three most essential components of our work. The chart below indicates the performance in these areas over a five-year period with Level Four representing optimum performance. The adjacent tab shows the specific performance activities and the level of that performance for 2016.

Components, Years and Level Completed
Education Customer Service Internal Processes
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 3


  • Trained 1962 new laboratory employees on Laboratory Environment through online self-study. (Level Four)
  • Trained 793 employees on Formaldehyde to comply with OSHA requirements. (Level Four)
  • Trained 201 employees on Nanotechnology Safety online. (Level Three)
  • Trained 214 employees on Chemical Fume Hoods through online training. (Level Three)
  • Trained 110 employees on Compressed Gas Safety through online training. (Level Three)
  • Trained 22 employees on DEA Controlled Substances through online training. (Level Two)
  • Trained 25 UNC SPIRE students starting the summer program on General Laboratory Safety. (Level Two)
  • Trained 6 Chapel Hill Fire Department shifts on chemical safety and general lab safety training. (Level Two)
  • Conducted chemical safety training for incoming Chemistry department Teaching Assistants, Chemistry 550L undergraduate class and Chemistry 701 graduate class. (Level One)
  • Utilized Principal Investigator listserv to distribute updates, alerts, laboratory safety news, and Lab and Chemical Safety Committee meeting minutes. (Level One)
  • Worked with the SCE to upgrade EHS web pages and added updated Lab Safety Manual, News Alerts, and new Hurricane/Tornado Preparedness for Labs webpage. (Level One)

Customer Service

  • Reviewed 637 new and/or updated Laboratory Safety Plans and reviewed deficiencies with PI’s and Safety Supervisors, ensuring compliance with the University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan. (Level Three)
  • Uploaded 90 chemical inventories into online system and reviewed 273 annual inventory updates as part of Chemical Hygiene Plan compliance. (Level Three)
  • Supported animal care and use in research regulations by participating in satellite facility, semi-annual inspections and AAALAC site visit. (Level Three)
  • Assessed potential chemical exposures by monitoring air concentrations in the breathing zones and laboratory work areas of 7 employees and made suggestions for controls to eliminate/minimize chemical health hazards. (Level Two)
  • Assessed 2 lab employee work environments as part of the Conceptus Protection Program. (Level Two)
  • Participated in clean-up of chemical spills in campus laboratories as technical experts and volunteered to join the newly designed Emergency Response Core Team. (Level Two)
  • Investigated 7 research laboratory accidents/incidents, evaluated root causes, and provided recommendations for modifications of work operations to prevent future incidents. (Level One)
  • Generated and delivered lab entrance signs for 489 laboratory rooms. (Level One)
  • Answered questions and escorted OWASA personnel to several labs on campus to do spot inspections of the laboratory waste management program. (Level One)

Internal Processes

  • Performed 152 CLIP/Radiation/HazWaste inspections, assessing campus laboratory safety and compliance. (Level Three)
  • Reviewed all IACUC applications including reviewing and approving Chemical Hazard forms, ensuring research compliance for animal care and use. (Level Three)
  • Verified 13 lab closeouts to ensure lab spaces had been left clean, decontaminated and free of waste. (Level Three)
  • Inspected 1207 chemical fume hoods and submitted 80 Facilities repair requests for fume hoods. (Level Two)
  • Calibrated EHS Departmental thermo-anemometers for use in chemical fume hood face velocity checks during inspections. (Level Two)
  • Participated in EOC University tabletop exercise and campus-wide functional drill. (Level Two)
  • Attended emergency response trainings: Enhanced All-Hazards Incident Management/Unified Command, Ebola Decontamination, and Managing Critical Incidents for Higher Education. (Level One)
  • In collaboration with DLAM and UEOHC, completed a Macaque SOP to ensure smooth transition for macaque animal research on campus. (Level One)
  • Implemented a Clinical Lab Team to investigate how to identify and add clinical labs to existing inspection programs. (Level One)