Safety & Emergency

Emergency Information – Reporting Accidents

Emergency Information – Reporting Accidents

In the event of an accident requiring immediate attention (e.g., bodily injury, fire, major chemical spill):

  1. Dial the Boston University Police
    • Internal Number 3-2121
    • External Number 617-353-2121
  2. Report clearly the nature and location of the accident.

The police are qualified to deal with emergencies, but you must be available to give them as much information as you can about the nature of the accident. We must file an accident report on every incident that occurs in our teaching and research laboratories.

YOU MUST REPORT ALL SAFETY INCIDENTS, whether serious or minor, to your advisor or supervisor, your laboratory safety officer, and to Environmental Health and Safety. In addition, the Director of Operations (Paul Ferrari,, 617.358.2851) needs to be notified of any accidents or emergencies.

Safety Training

All persons—research students and post-doctorals, teaching fellows, faculty, staff—who work in, frequent or supervise laboratories should be aware of basic laboratory safety practices and procedures for handling and disposing of hazardous materials. In fact, it is a University requirement that all such persons attend a Laboratory Safety and Hazardous Waste Management lecture every year. These lectures are given on a monthly basis by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) and are announced by Departmental e-mail, so it is generally not difficult to find a time to attend. For further information, see the Office of Research Compliance EHS Training Page or contact George Lima, Jr. (617-358-1027) at OEHS or Corey Stephenson (617-358-5089) the Chemistry Safety Officer.

Hazardous Waste Disposal

The rules for hazardous waste disposal are designed to protect persons who work in and visit laboratories and to avoid contaminating the environment in general. More detailed information can be found on the EHS Hazardous Waste pages. Two rules in particular should be kept in mind:

  1. Chemicals may not be put into sinks and flushed down the drain
  2. Hazardous materials (chemicals, broken glass, needles and other sharp objects) may not be put in regular waste baskets.

Rule 1 is to protect the environment, since all waste flows into the Metropolitan Boston sewer system and flows to Deer Island where it is treated. The sludge from this operation is recycled and certain chemicals, particularly heavy metals, can make the recycled material unusable. Rule 2 is to protect the custodians who pick up the trash and are sometimes injured by sharp objects.

Every laboratory has, or should have, specific areas or receptacles for hazardous waste:

  • Satellite accumulation area for chemicals (used solvents, chemical waste, unwanted reagents) to be disposed of
  • Broken glass boxes specially designed to receive broken glass, pipettes, and other glass objects.
  • Sharps receptacles for syringe needles, pipette tips (including plastic tips) and other small, sharp objects.
  • Biological waste

It is the responsibility of each researcher to learn the details of how waste is to be disposed of by attending the Laboratory Safety and Hazardous Waste Disposal lectures mentioned above, or by consulting his/her research advisor. Pick up of chemical waste is done on a regular basis by contractors hired by the OEHS; special chemical pickups can be arranged by calling Paul Kelly (617-353-1993) or by going to the web (Link).

Radiation Safety

All individuals handling radioactive materials, x-ray equipment, certain lasers, etc. are required to receive individual training before working with such materials or equipment. Information on radiation safety training can be obtained at or by sending email to the Director of Radiation Safety, Ron Slade

Safety Issues (Non Urgent)

If you have any questions about safety situations that do not seem to be urgent, e.g., how to dispose of something that has been sitting around a lab for a long time, please contact the Chemistry Safety Officer, Corey Stephenson (617-358-5089). Remember that visits to BU (sometimes triggered when calling 353-2121) by the Fire Department, Bomb Squad, etc. are very expensive—and sometimes unnecessary—so it is important to use common sense and not to over-react. If Dr. Stephenson cannot be located and you are still concerned, contact George Lima (617-358-1027) at the OEHS.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Information on the properties, hazards, etc. of chemical substances.

Where to Find MSDS on the Internet, with links to 85 web sites

MSDS for Microorganisms

Oxford University MSDS

Laser Safety

University of Illinois Laser Safety Information

Biological Safety

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Biological Safety Database <== DEAD LINK

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registery

NIH “Health and Safety” database<== DEAD LINK

Compressed Gas Safety

Compressed Gas Association

Scott Products Gas Handling Systems

Safety Equipment Suppliers

Grainger (Lab Safety Supply)

Best Glove Manufacturing