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, or complete the online training. These lectures are given by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS). For further information, see the Office of Research Compliance EHS Training Page or contact Wei Lee Leong (617-353-4941) at OEHS.

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 protects the environment.
Rule 2 protects our custodians who handle and dispose of laboratory trash.

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).

Hazardous Waste Labeling

  1. Label the waste container with a waste sticker provided by EHS. On the label, write the chemical name, the date when the container was filled, and check the appropriate hazard boxes.
  2. Store the waste container in a satellite accumulation area in the lab. Label the area with “waste area inspection” signage.
  3. Once you are ready for a waste pickup, submit an online waste disposal request.
  4. The waste contractor should collect the waste within 3 days. If the waste isn’t collected, re-submit the online request and notify EH&S.

Waste area inspection

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 Compliance Specialist, Cassie Williams

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 Wei Lee Leong (617-353-4941). 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 overreact.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

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

Where to Find MSDS on the Internet, with links to relevant websites

MSDS for Microorganisms

Laser Safety

Boston University EHS Laser Safety

Biological Safety

Boston University EHS Biological Safety

Compressed Gas Safety

Airgas Gas Safety Handling Guidelines