New Lab and P.I. Start-Up

Welcome to UMass Amherst!  The following is meant to provide basic information to new principal investigators (P.I.s) and others responsible for setting up a lab, studio, or shop space.  Please contact the EH&S main office (413-545-2682 or or any contact listed in the chart below should you have additional questions.  EH&S strives to build productive working relationships across the University to assist you in performing your work in a safe and compliant manner, and we are always happy to help!

General Lab and Chemical Safety Kristi Ohr
Biosafety Kristi Ohr
Laser and Radiation Safety Haneef Sahabdeen 


General Requirements and Services for all Labs, Studios, and Shops



All individuals working in a lab, studio, shop, or similar area where hazardous materials or processes are in use on campus are required to complete EH&S training provided through SciShield prior to beginning work with hazardous materials or processes.  Lab safety and fire safety are required for all individuals working in a lab environment or a shop with any chemical use.  Mechanical and Electrical safety (MERS) training is required for individuals working in a shop or with other physically hazardous tools.  Art safety training may be substituted for lab safety training for individuals working in a studio.  Training is required every year and may be completed online through SciShield.  EH&S is also happy to come to meet with your lab group to discuss building and lab specific safety items.  If you are interested, please contact us at to schedule.  We also highly recommend that new PIs complete the PI Roles and Responsibilities for Safety training in SciShield.

In addition to EH&S provided training, P.I.s are responsible for providing lab specific training to individuals in their lab/shop/studio spaces.  This training should include specific hazards of materials and processes used in the particular spaces, special emergency procedures, evacuation route and assembly point for fires or other emergencies, and other relevant portions of the lab specific chemical hygiene plan and standard operating procedures (see below).

Lab Specific Chemical Hygiene Plans and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

The University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan provides general guidance for work with hazardous materials and processes that are applicable to all areas where hazardous materials are stored or used or where hazardous processes occur.  This document also details the responsibilities of faculty and P.I.s responsible for these spaces.  P.I.s are required to ensure that lab specific chemical hygiene plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) are developed to cover specific hazards, materials, processes, and emergency procedures that are unique to their lab/shop/studio spaces.  A template for the lab specific chemical hygiene plan has been prepared by EH&S for P.I.s to use.  It includes a template for SOP development.  Institutional level SOPs have been prepared for work with some materials and processes.  A guidance document for SOP preparation is also available.  SOPs must be developed through an appropriate risk assessment.  SOPs for all work with highly hazardous materials or processes must be reviewed and approved prior to commencement of such work by the Institutional Chemical Safety Committee (ICSC).  The ICSC prior approval form should be used for submission.  Areas where hazardous equipment and machinery is in use must also comply with the Shop Safety Program.  The Art Safety Program has additional important information for those working in the visual or performing arts.

Lab Coats, Eye Protection, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Appropriate PPE must be worn for all work with hazardous materials in accordance with the University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan and appropriate risk assessment.  All individuals are provided with safety glasses or chemical splash goggles when they first begin working in a lab, shop, or studio.  Eye protection can be ordered online.  A lab coat program is available as well to provide lab coats and laundering services.  Individuals who need or wish to wear a respirator (including N-95 “dust masks”) must enroll in the respiratory protection program.  Individuals working in high noise environments, including some shops and studio areas, must enroll in the hearing conservation program.


The University utilizes SciShield to manage the laboratory inspection process, provide EH&S required training, maintain the chemical and radiological inventories, provide access to SDSs, schedule waste pickups, and as a tool to communicate with the research community.  SciShield also has the capability to store and share important documents with lab pesonnel and EH&S, keep an inventory of various lab equipment, anonymously report safety issues to EH&S, and more.  All labs should set up their lab profile in SciShield and certify lab members.  This helps EH&S to communicate with your entire research group in the event of emergencies or important updates.  Please visit the SciShield page for additional information.

Hazardous Materials

Our CEMS program includes centralized receiving and delivery of hazardous materials.  All hazardous materials (including those shipped from other institutions or research labs) must be delivered to CEMS where the items are entered into the inventory system prior to delivery to end users.  CEMS also provides lab and waste supplies, such as hazardous waste containers and labels, glass waste boxes, sharps waste containers, peroxide testing strips, and other items, free of charge.  Supplies can be requested through SciShield.

Hazardous Waste and Shipment of Hazardous Materials

All hazardous waste must be managed in accordance with the University’s policies and state and federal regulations.  Information on requirements can be found at the EH&S hazardous waste page.  The shipment of hazardous materials is a highly regulated process.  Please see the University’s research materials shipping program for guidance.  Items (even non-hazardous items) shipped to foreign countries may be subject to export controls.

Lab Incidents

All injuries, exposures, and spills should be reported to EH&S promptly.  An lab incident report form should be completed and filed with EH&S within 48 hours of all incidents.  Please also notify EH&S at (413)-545-2682 as soon as possible.  Exposures and injuries not necessitating a 911 call should be evaluated by University Health Services (UHS).

Lab Sustainability

The Green Lab Program through the UMass office of sustainability is a great resource for information on how to reduce your lab's environmental impact.


If you perform work with Biological Materials or Organisms

The Biological Safety Office is responsible for ensuring institutional compliance with federal and state biological research regulations, including the safe storage, handling, and disposal of all biological agents. To that end, the Biological Safety Team provides information, training, and oversight to the UMass Amherst life science research, health care, agricultural, field research, and biotechnology communities. The following is an overview of our key functions and policies. More details can be found on the Biosafety website and in the Biosafety Manual.

UMass Amherst's Role In The Global Polio Eradication Initiative


Specialized EH&S Training

Biosafety for Laboratory Personnel:

  • Biosafety training is required to be completed online annually (in SciShield)
  • Autoclave Use and Procedures training is required for all individuals that use an autoclave (in SciShield)

Bloodborne Pathogens Training:

  • Bloodborne Pathogens training is available online in SciShield. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR, Bloodborne Pathogens. - 1910.1030) applies to all staff that may have an occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.

BSL-3 Biosafety Training:

  • In the BSL-3 laboratory environment, the type of experiments being conducted, nature of the material used, and the equipment used would determine the required types of training. Written documentation of BSL-3 training must be recorded and retained by the PI and Biosafety Office.
  • Biosafety training for BSL-3 activities is provided by the Biosafety Officer, at least annually. Contact the Biosafety Officer to schedule these trainings.
  • Task specific BSL-3 laboratory training is provided by the PI or a competent supervisor. Training competency checklists may be provided by Biosafety.
  • If required, training and certification for shipping of dangerous biological materials and/or dry ice must be completed. Additional information on this is found in Chapter 10.

Biosafety Information Sessions by Request:

  • The Biosafety group offers a number of live and on demand Information Sessions to better suit your particular needs and that of your lab / facility; these can be done at a lab group meeting or any get together, for one lab or a department.

Biosafety Manual

The Biosafety Manual represents the institutional practices and procedures for the safe use and handling of biological materials, recombinant DNA and synthetic nucleic acids at UMass Amherst. This document is based on the latest government regulatory requirements, guidelines and current professional standards. This document also details the responsibilities of faculty and P.I.s responsible for biological laboratory spaces.  P.I.s are required to ensure that lab specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) are developed to cover specific hazards, materials, processes, and emergency procedures that are unique to their laboratory research spaces.

Institutional Biosafety Committee and Protocol Submission

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (the University) has an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)  in compliance with the latest version of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules and in accordance with the latest version of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 

The IBC utilizes e-Protocol for research registration. LOGIN to the e-Protocol/IBC form.

Specialty Equipment

Biological Safety/Biosafety Cabinets (BSC’s)

  • Class I cabinets are designed to provide personnel and environmental protection only. The material (research experiment) inside the cabinet is not protected and thus subject to contamination. The use of Class I BSC is not advised at UMass Amherst; consult with Biosafety if you feel you need to purchase one.
  • Class II cabinets meet requirements for the protection of personnel, product and the environment. There are four types of Class II cabinets (A, B1, B2, and B3), each differentiated according to the method by which air volumes are recirculated or exhausted.
  • The Class II, Type A biosafety cabinet does not have to be vented, which makes it suitable for use in laboratory rooms which cannot be ducted. This cabinet is acceptable for use of low to moderate risk agents in the absence of volatile toxic chemicals and volatile radionuclides. The most common biosafety cabinet on campus is a Class II A2.

          Please consult with the Biosafety Team for appropriate use, set up, location and decontamination of BSC’s.

Aspiration of Liquid Waste

  • A vacuum flask system is required to provide protection to the central building vacuum system or vacuum pump and to personnel who service the equipment. See the Biosafety Manual for correct set up. Please consult with Biosafety staff if you have any questions.


  • Autoclaves are used at UMass Amherst to sterilize materials and to decontaminate waste. Autoclaves are vessels designed to use high temperatures, time, and pressure to create an inhospitable environment for biological agents.
  • Autoclaves are the primary source for decontamination for biological waste at UMass Amherst. All autoclave users, as well as their PI’s, are required to take Autoclave Safety training in SciShield.


Animal & Plant Pathogens and Pests and Genetically Modified Organisms

Human Pathogens or Biological Toxins

The Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regulates the import of biological materials that could cause illness in humans or genetically modified organisms. For assistance, refer to or contact:

          Research Compliance
          101 University Drive, Suite C-5
          Amherst, MA 01002
          Tel: (413) 545-5283
          Fax: (413) 577-1728


Biological Waste Management Program

  • Waste Program Document
  • UMass Amherst has permission from the Massachusetts Department of Health as well as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to discard properly autoclaved waste into landfills.
  • This program requires the use of CLEAR autoclave bags (no biohazard symbols), precise record keeping, and monthly validation of all waste processing autoclaves at UMass Amherst.
  • UMass Amherst requires the use of a properly labeled, leak-proof step-can for the containment of biological waste. UMass does not provide the step cans, but we do provide the biohazard symbols.

Animal Use

  • Refer to the Research Administration and Compliance’s Animal Subjects page for their required trainings and for enrollment in the Animal Occupational Health Program.

Human Subject Research

  • Refer to the Research Administration and Compliance’s Human Subjects/IRB page for additional information.


If you work with Lasers or Radioactive Materials

Radiation Authorizations (New PI’s)

Prospective Radiation Users must fill out an application for a Radiation Permit. (New and current PI’s)

To apply for a Permit, download and complete the Permit Application (radioactive materials & devices or laser/non-ionizing) below. Return the Application to the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) via email  or fax 413-545-2600.

When the RSO receives the application, a meeting with the faculty member will be arranged to review it, discuss radiation safety aspects of the experiments and assist in the setup of laboratories. The faculty member assumes primary responsibility for radiation safety in facilities under his or her control. The Radiation Safety Officer will make a recommendation to the RUC, which will vote by either by email or at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Approved applications will be reviewed and renewed annually.  Radioactive materials, devices, and lasers shall not be used at UMass Amherst without a valid Permit.


Radioactive Materials Permit Request

Radioactive Materials Permit Renewal / Add Radioisotope to Permit

Radiation Safety Manual

Laser Safety Manual

Radioactive Waste

Different types of radioactive waste include:

  • Solid waste
  • Liquid waste
  • Liquid scintillation counting wastes
  • Mixed waste (waste that is both radioactive and chemically hazardous i.e. Uranium acetate)
  • Uranium and thorium wastes.

All these different forms of waste need to be separated into their respective containers. Radioactive waste must also be segregated by half-life (such as long-lived versus short-lived isotopes). Every time you dispose of radioactive materials you must fill out the Radioisotope Inventory Form. Once the container is full you can submit a Waste Pick-up Request via CEMS or contact Radiation Safety 413-545-5131 or


The laser Safety Program is managed by the Radiation Safety Office. Lasers and laser systems are classified within FDA/CDRH (Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health) regulations according to their potential to cause injury, as indicated by the laser output energy or power and wavelengths. The designated classification of a laser or laser system can be found on the laser hazard label of the instrument and in the manufacturer's operating instructions. Lasers without classification labels or lasers constructed or modified in the laboratory must be reviewed by EH&S for appropriate classification. Also, individuals planning to use Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers shall obtain prior approval from EH&S.  All Class 3B and 4 lasers must also be registered through SciShield.


Laser Safety Manual

Laser Permit (Application to become an authorized user of Class 3B and or Class 4 Lasers)

Door Signs for labs with lasers

Laser Cutter SOP


Research and medicine uses many types of x-ray equipment including analytical, medical, dental, fluoroscopic, veterinary, cabinet systems and electron microscopes. All radiation-generating devices such as x-ray machines must be registered with the EH&S Radiation Safety Office (RSO).  To register equipment and become an authorized user of x-ray equipment, please complete the application.

Authorization/Registration to use x-ray generating devices

Analytical X-Ray users (XRD & XRF)

Procedures and conditions for operating an x-ray machine:

  • The Authorized User must notify the Radiation Safety Office prior to initial use of the machine so that a radiation survey may be made under operating conditions.
  • All personnel who use the x-ray machine must have adequate training in the proper use of the machine and be aware of the associated radiation hazards
  • Persons using the machine must wear assigned personnel monitoring devices (only for devices with no controls and determined by RSO.
  • For analytical X-ray machines (X-ray Diffraction, etc.) all users must follow the general safety checklist. X-Ray Diffraction General Safety Checklist

X-Ray machines (Other than analytical)

All users of X-ray machines (other than analytical) must follow the section on Laboratory requirements in the Radiation Safety Manual.

Initial Setup

  • The Primary Investigator (PI) must become an Authorized User (AU) by contacting the RSO.
  • The machine operating procedures must be written, followed, and submitted to the RSO for approval.
  • The facility will be reviewed by radiation safety to verify shielding and control adequacy
  • The X-ray machine specifics must be submitted to the RSO (type, manufacturer, model, serial, power, current, voltage).  
  • The Authorized User must notify the Radiation Safety Office prior to initial use of the machine so that a radiation survey may be made under operating conditions
  • All personnel who use the x-ray machine must have adequate training in the proper use of the machine and be aware of the associated radiation hazards. (Completed through SciShield)

Non- Ionizing Radiation Safety

The Non-Ionizing Radiation (NIR) Safety Program is designed to help protect employees, students and the general public from the harmful effects of non-ionizing radiation.

Non-ionizing radiation (NIR) refers to electromagnetic radiation that does not have sufficient energy to ionize (remove electrons from) atoms or molecules. Instead the energy is converted to heat, and depending on the exposure time and the energy concentration of the radiation, it can lead to burns. Therefore, those working with non-ionizing radiation must take precautions to ensure they are not exposed to excessive levels of NIR.