Working Alone in the Laboratory-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, October 1, 2010

Working Alone in the Laboratory

The University's Laboratory Safety Committee (LSC) has recognized that there are special, greater potential hazards and risks associated with laboratory personnel working alone in the lab with hazardous chemicals.  The risk of injury is increased and so is the risk of the seriousness of the injury.  This is coupled with the fact that the injured person may not be able to contact help in the event of an accident.  These are very serious problems indeed, and ones that have occurred at other universities.

EH&S and the LSC have always recommended that no one work alone with hazardous materials in the lab, but we also recognize that there are circumstances where this may be necessary.  As a result, a program has been developed where working alone must be authorized by the responsible Principal Investigator (PI) of the lab.  The authorization form is can be found here:

The form requires the PI to evaluate activities that would help mitigate or prevent an accident or injury to the person working alone.  These may include:  limiting activity to certain hours (where people may be nearby), limiting activity with certain materials, establishing a system where one could contact help immediately, and of course, limiting the solo work to trained and qualified personnel.  If you have solo work with hazardous materials being performed in a lab, please review the form, complete it and submit it to EH&S.  If you need any assistance in establishing procedures to mitigate the hazards and risks, do not hesitate to contact us.  We will be happy to help you through this process.