Safety and Environmental Compliance

All researchers are expected to be aware of lab safety and environmental compliance procedures and to follow those procedures at all times. These include, but are not limited to, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE; e.g. lab coat, goggles, and gloves) at all times while in the laboratory, keeping up with required safety training, and consulting and containing standard operating procedures. Anyone working in a experimental chemistry laboratories must register for training by sending an e-mail to Columbia Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) within 5 days of starting work. You will be asked to read and sign an attestation that they have attended required safety training and understand the safety protocols required for laboratory work.

Labs are inspected regularly by EH&S staff, the NYC fire department, and occasionally by the EPA and other government agencies. Warnings and fines can be issued to research sponsors (faculty) for violations. You can learn about safety and environmental compliance in several ways:

  1. From your faculty advisor or a designated senior member of your research group.
  2. From training offered during new student orientation (STAT).
  3. From training courses offered by EH&S.
  4. From EH&S staff and from the EH&S website.
  5. From emergency instruction notices posted in all labs and hallways.
  6. By contacting the safety committee



If you require immediate emergency assistance because of a fire, a security issue, or a major chemical spill, dial 99 from any campus phone or 854-5555 from any other phone to reach the university Public Safety office, available 24/7.

Chemical spills not deemed an emergency should be referred to EH&S (extension 4-8749) for assistance with cleanup. Except for minor spills, which can be cleaned up using the spill kits located in hallways, students should not attempt spill cleanup on their own.

After contacting the emergency services described above and after attending to your own personal safety, report the incident to the department Director (extension 4-4200). If you were injured, also report the incident to the department Administrative Manager (extension 4-2204). An incident report form is available in the department main office (344 Havemeyer Hall) and must be filled out following any accident, safety emergency, or chemical spill. The form is filled out by the researcher with firsthand knowledge of the incident and is reviewed and signed by the faculty advisor.