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 Judy LaDuc
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 provided training prior to beginning work with hazardous materials or processes.  Lab safety and fire safety are required for all individuals working in a lab environment.  Mechanical and Electrical safety (MERS) training may be substituted for lab safety training for individuals working in a shop.  Art safety training may be substituted for lab safety training for individuals working in a studio.  Contact Kristi Ohr to schedule Art safety training.  Classroom training is required every 5 years.  Annual refresher training is also required, however, this may be completed online through OWL or by attending classroom training again.  Please note that as a result of the public health requirements necessary to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, all classroom training has been temporarily converted to online training that can be accessed through OWL.

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.

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 during introductory EH&S classroom training.  Eye protection can be ordered online as well.  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 the Chemical Environmental Management System (CEMS) for hazardous material inventory control, hazardous waste management, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) storage and access, and lab supply requests.  CEMS also 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 can also be used to view SDSs for any hazardous material in the inventory.  Additionally, request for waste pickups and lab supplies, such as hazardous waste containers and labels, glass waste boxes, sharps waste containers, peroxide testing strips, and other items, can be placed through CEMS. For more information on CEMS and to set up an account, please visit the CEMS page.


The University utilizes BioRAFT to manage the laboratory inspection process and as a tool to communicate with the research community.  BioRAFT 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 must set up their lab profile in BioRAFT and certify lab members.  Please visit the BioRAFT page for additional information.

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).


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.

Specialized EH&S Training

Biosafety for Laboratory Personnel:

  • Classroom training for Biosafety is required every five years. You may sign up for Biosafety Classroom training here.
  • Biosafety training is required to be completed online annually (in OWL)
  • Autoclave Use and Procedures training is required for all individuals that use an autoclave (in OWL)

Bloodborne Pathogens Training:

  • Bloodborne Pathogens training is available online in OWL. 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 OWL.


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

See the Laser and Radiaton Safety Program.