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Department of Plant Pathology

Laboratory Safety Practices

March 19, 2003

The Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University (KSU) is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for its students, staff, faculty, and the general public. To minimize the potential exposure to toxic and hazardous materials, the Department requires its students, staff, and faculty to adhere to all KSU laboratory safety policies and rules that govern the research and usage of specific hazards such as chemical, radioactive, and biohazardous materials. Specific laboratory safety rules can be found in the KSU Laboratory Safety Manual and the KSU Radiation Safety Manual. These safety manuals also can be found on the KSU Department of Environmental Health and Safety homepage (Policies). K-State Research and Extension EMERGENCY ACTION MANUAL is available on the web at (Emergency Manual (PDF)). The following laboratory safety practices are expected for all laboratories. If you have questions concerning safety, direct them to your supervisor, a member of the safety committee, or the Department Safety Officer.


1. Job Related Injuries, Incident Investigation and Reporting

KSU employees injured on the job should seek medical care as follows:

  • LIFE THREATENING: Call 911 or report to the emergency room at Ascension Via Christi.
  • NON-LIFE THREATENING: Work-related incidents/injuries/illness/accidents should be reported through the electronic Incident Reporting System within 3 days of the incident. Paper forms are no longer accepted to report worker incidents. For injuries requiring immediate or urgent care, seek medical assistance/care via the nearest and most appropriate healthcare facility and report the injury after or have the supervisor report the incident. For assistance with the electronic Incident Reporting System, please contact the Plant Pathology HR Liaison or HCS Benefits office. Find information related to workers compensation on the HCS website. Incidents involving students and individuals who are not university employees may also be reported through the Incident Reporting System portal. Questions or concerns may be directed to EHS at safety@ksu.edu for incidents not related to employment. Students are strongly encouraged to report injuries occurring on campus through the Incident Reporting System. Providing information about student campus injuries helps the university respond to safety concerns and perhaps avoid future incidents. Review the General Lab Safety Practices

2. Equipment

Each lab is responsible for equipment /instruments/supplies in their lab. Do not use any piece of equipment until the operation of it has been explained and demonstrated. Additionally, if you want to use equipment or instruments or borrow supplies from other labs you should check with the supervisor listed on the Emergency Information Poster posted in each lab. DO NOT OPERATE ANY INSTRUMENTS, OR EQUIPMENT UNTIL YOU HAVE PERMISSION FROM THE LAB SUPERVISOR.

Guidelines for the proper use of the Autoclave Room (RM 4404) are outlined in Appendix III.

3. Laboratory General Safety

Lock your laboratory and greenhouse when it is unoccupied. Not only when you leave for the night, but also when you enjoy a coffee break or take lunch.

4. Laboratory Smoking Policy

Smoking is strictly prohibited in all campus buildings. The proximity to hazardous toxic, radioactive, infectious and flammable substances makes smoking in laboratories a risk of ingestion and fire.

5. Laboratory Safety for Non-employees

Unauthorized person(s) should not be allowed in laboratories that handle toxic chemicals, biohazardous materials, or radioactive materials. Authorized means having business in the laboratory with the permission of the principal researcher. It also means that such authorized persons must be provided the same kind of protection from toxic chemicals and hazards as persons working in the laboratory, and be made aware of the hazards in the laboratory. Anyone under the age of eighteen has to be under immediate and direct supervision of a qualified authorized person at all times.

6. Evacuation Procedures

Each lab has an exit route posted and a designated assembly point outside the building. Once all personnel are accounted for the lab supervisor should report to the Dept. Safety Committee Member who will be located at the flagpole in front of the Military Science Building. For additional emergency information, see Appendix VIIII.

7. Storage and Consumption of Food and Drink

The separation of food and drink from laboratories can minimize the risk of contamination and/or accidental ingestion of chemicals. Never bring food, drink, or related utensils for storage or consumption into a laboratory. Do not use microwave ovens for heating food in such laboratories. The Department of Plant Pathology has a refrigerator and a microwave oven in 4023 Throckmorton Hall that can be used for storing and heating food/drink.

8. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Splashing toxic and hazardous materials onto exposed skin or into the eyes can cause serious health problems. The risk of exposure may arise from spilled or splashed chemicals when inappropriate clothing (e.g. shorts and short skirts) is worn. Appropriate eye protection, such as splash goggles, face-shields, or UV blocking glasses, must be available and worn if a risk of injury to eyes exists. Personal Protective Equipment (e.g., laboratory coats and gloves) does not belong in public areas and should be stored properly in the laboratory. For example, laboratory coats can be hung near the door inside the laboratory if they are not in use.

9. Safety and Emergency Equipment

Safety and emergency equipment includes fire extinguishers, first aid kits, emergency eye wash stations, emergency showers, spill kits, fire alarm pull stations, emergency telephones, and emergency exits. Learn and know what to do in an emergency, how to do it, and where the necessary items are located.

10. Safe Handling and Storage of Chemicals, Solutions

Never pipette or suction materials with your mouth. Always perform all procedures involving the liberation of volatile or toxic or flammable materials in a fume hood to eliminate the risk at the source. All chemical storage bottles should be labeled with content names, dates of acquisition/preparation, and any special safety/hazard notes. Chemicals should be stored based on compatibility. For more information on chemical compatibility, please contact K-state Research and Extension Safety Coordinator at 532-7068 or check the KSU Laboratory Safety Manual. In addition, any equipment that is used for radioactive materials should be clearly labeled with radiation warning sign(s).

11. Avoidance of Toxic and Hazardous Contamination

Insertion or removal of contact lenses and any other manipulations and application of cosmetics or lip balm in the laboratory could transfer hazardous material to your eyes or mouth and should be done outside the laboratory with clean hands. Laboratory coats and gloves may be contaminated with radioactive material, biohazardous agents, or chemicals and should not be worn in areas such as coffee areas, classrooms, and conference rooms. Generally, laboratory clothing should not be washed at home. If a washer is dedicated to use for laboratory clothing is not available, laboratory clothing must be washed separately from general clothing. After a washer has been used for laboratory clothing, clean the washer by running it through one full cycle with no clothes in it, but with a full load of hot water and detergent. Because wearing of gloves is no guarantee that your hands are not contaminated, wash your hands before leaving the laboratory to minimize the risk of carrying radioactive, biological, or other hazards out of you work area into other areas that should be clean and uncontaminated. Make certain that soap and towels are provided in your work area.

12. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

When certain chemicals are purchased from a manufacturer or retailer, the company will send MSDS to the laboratory. Each research laboratory or program must keep a complete and current set of the MSDS and must make it available to all employees and students working in the laboratory.

13. Chemical Spill Cart

The department maintains an emergency spill cart in room 4404.

14. Disposal of Chemicals and Hazardous Materials

Do not discard broken glassware, used sharps (e.g. needles, syringes, scalpel blades, and razor blades), discharged batteries, fluorescent, High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, and chemical wastes in the regular trash receptacles. Fluorescent and HID lamps contain 15-75 mg of mercury. This mercury could possibly escape from the lamp if discarded in a sanitary landfill leading to the contamination of the groundwater. The KSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety recycles all burned-out fluorescent and HID lamps and discharged batteries. For properly disposing broken glassware, please see Appendix IV. For preparations of pick-up services for used sharps, discharged batteries, burned-out lamps, and chemical waste, please see Appendix V,VI, and VII, respectively.

15. Radiation Safety

The faculty member responsible for the research project(s) must obtain a license to use radioactive materials. Licensees must apply to the Campus Radiation Safety Committee. The license will cover only the radioisotopes and quantities which have been approved. For more information, check the KSU Radiation Safety Manual or contact the KSU Radiation Safety Officer(s) at 532-5856. It is highly recommended that all students, laboratory technicians, research assistants and associates, and faculty members who are using or expecting to use radioactive materials in the near future participate in the three one-hour radiation safety training sessions at least once every three years. Topics of the training include basic characteristics of radioactivity and radiation, risk assessment, and radiation protection.

16. Biosafety

It is the responsibility of the institution to provide adequate training and oversight for researchers who use infectious agents and/or rDNA at K-State. The IBC performs the oversight function by reviewing proposed activities and approving registration documents for using infectious agents and/or rDNA. All personnel listed in the IBC registration document as proposing to work with infectious agents and/or rDNA must complete applicable training prior to final IBC approval of the project.

Online training is available through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program.

Compliance training must be updated every three years. Check CITI training due dates through your CITI account, or verify pre-CITI training by calling or emailing our office. Pre-CITI training is honored until expiration.

Learn more about completing the IBC training.


The autoclave room is a common use area used by almost every lab in the department. In order to maintain it as an appropriately clean facility we ask that you please read and follow the guidelines below. Your supervisor is responsible for training you on the proper use of the equipment in this room. If you should have any questions, comments, or suggestions concerning the autoclave room or the equipment in it please see me. I can be found in Room 4026.

  1. If something breaks or needs attention please let me know as soon as possible.
  2. If you use the sinks to wash dishes, clean up the area when finished. If you use the sponges, please ring them out when done.
  3. If you spill something, clean it up! It only takes a few minutes.
  4. Before you leave anything in the room for the long term (on the counters, in the drawers or cabinets) please check with me.
  5. Clean any agar etc. from the sinks.
  1. If you don’t fill in the information and I happen to pass through I will terminate the run and you can start again after filling in the information. There is a sheet by each autoclave you are to fill in all of the information (date, time in, your name, lab, & purpose) BEFORE using the autoclave.
  2. Close the autoclave door when run is finished.
  3. When new people start to work in your lab, make sure you show them how to operate the autoclaves.
  4. Do not use autoclave three or four for discard autoclaving.
  1. Only ONE (1) bag per tray, only fill bag ½ full.
  2. Put your professor's name and lab room number on every bag in BIG BOLD PRINT. (There is a marker in the box with the deodorizers).
  3. There is absolutely NO REASON to leave unautoclaved bags in the room. If the autoclave is in use, TAKE THE BAG BACK TO YOUR LAB.
  4. Use the deodorizers provided. They are located on the wire shelving unit.
  5. Once the bag has been autoclaved, it is your responsibility to:
    1. Remove it from the autoclave, set it on the wire shelve unit (in the tray) to cool, and once it has cooled place it in a large plastic bag.
    2. Clean out any solidified agar in the bottom of the tray and place it in a large plastic bag.
    3. Wash out tray in the ISLAND SINK and CLEAN OUT THE SINK.
    4. Place tray on the wire shelve unit and the bagged biohazard bags on the cart.

This washer and dryer are to be used only by members of the DEPARTMENTS OF PLANT PATHOLOGY, AGRONOMY or USDA/ARS. ANYONE ELSE must talk to Bruce Ramundo- Room 4026 (2-1338) before using them.

  1. These machines are for work related use only such as Laboratory Coats, soiled towels generated in the Laboratory, and Pesticide contaminated clothing worn while spraying in the greenhouse or field. Do no use these machines for your family wash.
  2. Sign up on the sheet before you use the machines.
  3. Promptly remove your clothes from the washer or dryer. Remember to clean out the washer.
  4. Each lab is responsible for providing its own detergent.
  5. If you are using isotopes make sure the articles you are washing are not radioactive.
  1. Do not wash with other clothing
  2. Wash a few items at a time - use the highest water level setting
  3. Use a heavy-duty detergent and hot water for the wash cycle.
  4. Rinse work cloths twice in warm water.
  5. If items are moderately to heavily contaminated, use two complete machine cycles.
  6. Clean the machine by running the washer through one complete cycle with detergent and hot water before washing additional clothes.
  7. IF POSSIBLE, hang your clothes outside on a clothesline line to dry. If you must use a clothes dryer, use the hottest setting possible.


  1. Deposit broken glassware into a relatively strong cardboard box labeled with “BROKEN GLASSWARE”;
  2. When the box is full, seal the box with shurtape or another relatively strong tape;
  3. Label it again if “BROKEN GLASSWARE” has been covered by the tape;
  4. Ask a custodian to pick it up for proper disposal.


  1. Deposit the used sharps including needles, syringes, scalpel blades and razor blades into a container labeled with “SHARPS DISPOSAL ONLY”;
  2. When the container is full, seal cover or seal the container;
  3. Call the KSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety (108 Edwards Hall) at 532-5856 for a pick-up service. You would need to tell them the location for the pick-up, your name and phone number.


  1. Place the burned-out bulbs in the designated container labeled with “USED FLUORESCENT BULBS” in room TH 1801;
  2. The Department will call the KSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety (108 Edwards Hall) at 532-5856 for a pick-up service.


  1. Remove the discharged batteries from your instrument. The batteries can be all lead (Pb) sealed, alkaline, mercury, silver, nickel-cadmium (NiCad), lithium hydride, and others;
  2. They are collected in the Plant Pathology mail room;
  3. If the discharged batteries are wet cell batteries, call the KSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety (108 Edwards Hall) at 532-5856 for a pick-up service. You would need to tell them the location for the pick-up, your name and phone number.


  1. The person responsible for the generation of the waste or the person in charge if the materials should handle the chemical waste;
  2. Label all containers describing the materials contained;
  3. Date all containers;
  4. Tops, caps, or lids are required on all containers;
  5. Noncompatible materials should be kept separated;
  6. Box groups of containers so that they can be carried easily by hand;
  7. Label the box “PUBLIC SAFETY – WASTE”.
  8. Call the KSU Department of Environmental Health & Safety (108 Edwards Hall) at 532-5856 for a pick-up service. You would need to tell them the location for the pick-up, your name and phone number.


  1. Verbally alert others in the area
  2. Activate the nearest fire alarm if the building must be evacuated.
  3. From the nearest safe location, call 911. Do not hang up until the operator releases you.
  4. Go immediately to your designated assembly area and report to your supervisor.
  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Quickly turn off equipment and lights if it is safe to do so.
  3. Close all doors as you exit the building.
  4. Go immediately to your designated assembly area and report to your supervisor.
    1. Each lab or work area has posted an EMERGENCY INFORMATION POSTER which shows the evacuation route. You should also be aware of other alternate exits.

If a fire occurs somewhere in the building, from a safe location, pull the nearest fire alarm to evacuate the building. Report to the designated area for accountability.


The University sirens will sound for a steady three-minute blast. You should move to the basement and stay away from windows. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS. If you are outdoors, seek indoor shelter if possible. If an indoor shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or low spot. If you are on flat ground and are caught in the path of a tornado, always move at right angles to its path.


Go to an area where falling objects are less likely to hit you and/or exit any building that may not withstand the stress of an earthquake.


Alert your supervisor and clear the area of all personnel. Once in a safe area, notify the proper authorities.


If an explosion occurs somewhere in your building, from a safe location, pull the nearest fire alarm to evacuate the building. Report to your designated area for accountability.


If lightening threatens when you are inside, stay inside. Stay away from open doors or windows, radiators, metal pipes, sinks and plug-in electrical objects. Do not use the telephone. If you are in the field and you see lightning ANYWHERE IN THE SKY- NO MATTER HOW FAR AWAY IT APPEARS TO BE- YOU ARE TO SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.