Laboratory Contingency Plan Returning to the Laboratory
A Note on Social Distancing
In the event researchers are returning to labs following the COVID-19 Pandemic, social distancing rules
may still be in effect. Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) in this section refers to any face coverings
that people are using to protect themselves from SARS-CoV-2.
Staffing must be kept to a minimum while still providing for the safety of personnel reopening the
Laboratory personnel should still be observing minimum distancing from other personnel within
the space(s)
Common / high-use touchpoints (countertops, equipment controls, hood sashes, door
handles/knobs) should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis
PPE should be used according to the most recent direction from the Office of the Vice President
for Research
PPE must be maintained as to prevent contamination with work materials (do not lay face
coverings on contaminated surfaces, do not put PPE in pockets, do not handle PPE with
potentially contaminated gloves, etc)
Work shifts should be staggered to allow minimum occupancy at all times use remote
workstation assignments whenever possible to limit or at least minimize contact between
laboratory personnel
The focus should be to maximize space between personnel, and minimize contact time and the potential
for cross-contamination. These guidelines are not exhaustive – each lab has its own operating
environment and laboratory-specific considerations that should always be included.
Reopening the Laboratory
During extended shutdowns there may be hazardous situations that can occur without the knowledge of
laboratory personnel. Prior to resuming laboratory operations it is advisable to conduct a walkthrough
with the Building Manager, Principal Investigator, or other member of the laboratory to check for the
following environmental hazards:
Floodingcaused by the activation of sprinklers during a smoke/fire condition, water source
accidently left open, containers which may have broken and spilled.
Hazardous odors and vaporsreleased from containers which may not have been sealed
properly, or due to breakage of containers
Energized equipment – any equipment that was left plugged in may be on or energized – be
cautious not to place your hands or other items within the working area of the equipment until it
has been checked
Spills or broken glasscontainers under pressure may have ruptured
If you encounter any of these hazards upon return to your lab do not remain in the lab – leave the
area and call University Police at 1-631-632-3333 to report it and await assistance.
Check the equipment
Make sure nothing was left on top / in front /
near moving parts that may get tangles or
Check wires and cables make sure they are
not broken or damaged and that they are
connected correctly
Look for cracks or other signs of damage.
Damaged equipment should be put out of
service until it can be repaired
Look for service or maintenance dates which
may have passed during your absence
equipment should be maintained according to
manufacturers recommendations
Make sure Bunsen burners are not connected
to gas, and that all gas valves are fully closed
Check freezers and refrigerators if power
was lost, there may be water around the
equipment, and samples may have been
destroyed by lack of refrigeration
Ensure adequate supplies
Check reservoirs (oil, water, solvents) and
ensure adequate supply
Make sure you have enough cleaning supplies
for standard cleaning of work areas and
Check all emergency equipment
Check to make sure fume hoods are on and
not in alarm
Flush all plumbed eyewash stations until the
water runs clear (caution some stations do
not have plumbed drains make sure you
have a means to capture water if this is the
Check that fume hoods and biosafety cabinet
certifications have not expired. If they have,
contact Environmental Health and Safety
( to coordinate a
fume hood check, or your contracted vendor
for your biosafety cabinet. Do not use them if
they are out of date.
Starting Experiments
Get Permission
Make sure you have written permission prior to
starting any experiments
Make sure you have the appropriate training and
that your existing training has not expired before
working in the lab
Check kits and supplies
Check expiration dates on kits that may have
expired since last use
Check solvents, media, and other materials for signs
of deterioration or contamination
Highly hazardous materials, such as picric acid,
should not be handled or moved if showing signs
of drying out or discoloration. Evacuate the lab
and contact University Police
Check for adequate supply of fresh materials
Coordinate with Support Areas
If your experiments require outside support (vendors
for compressed gasses, Core Facilities, building
services) make sure those services will be
available before beginning operation. Other services
may experience interruptions or staffing shortages
which you need to account for in scheduling
Ensure you have adequate containers for the
collection and management of wastes from your
experiments (chemical, biological, radioactive, etc)
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Laboratory Safety staff in the Department of Environmental Health
and Safety ( or contact our Hazardous Waste Coordinator (
) if you need
assistance with disposing of expired materials.
Completed By: __________________________________________________________ Date: ___________________________