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Research Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

Providing Services to the Denver and Anschutz Medical Campuses

The University of Colorado Denver EHS Department facilitates research safety and compliance with public health, environmental protection, and safety regulations for the Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver Campus, and all off-site facilities. The RSIH division provides many services and resources.

 Lab Requirements

Labs are required to stay in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations as well as the requirements of their funding source(s).

Requirements include, but are not limited to: completing required forms and training; managing and disposing of chemical waste properly; following lab safety guidelines; and working with staff to correct deficiencies found during laboratory audits.

Visit our training page for more information on training requirements. Most lab workers are required to take the following:

  • Laboratory Safety Training
  • Chemical Waste Management Training
  • Blood Borne Pathogen Training
  • Regulated Medical Waste Training

Each person must also complete an on-the-job training form.

Visit our chemical waste management site for more information on chemical management and disposal. Each lab must post and maintain a Satellite Accumulation Area weekly inspection form, which can be found here.​​2

 New Researchers

As a new researcher you are responsible for conducting your work in a safe manner at all times. NIH Grants Policy has specific Health and Safety Public Policy Requirements for all Principal Investigators. UC Denver has specific examples of these requirements for laboratory supervisors and principal investigators in the  Supervisor and PI Responsibilities guidance document. You must also register your lab using the UC Denver Laboratory Registration Form.

Researchers on the UC Denver Campus are also expected to follow guidance provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding Lab Safety.

UC Denver EHS oversees compliance with public health, environmental protection, and safety regulations for the Anschutz Medical Campus (AMC), Downtown Denver campus and all off-site facilities conducting academic, research and clinical activities for UC Denver.

Department areas of responsibility include:


 PI Responsibilities

It is important for researchers to understand and define the unique hazards and required safety precautions related their research. When preparing research protocol descriptions, remember to include the unique safety precautions that should be employed while performing the various activities to be undertaken. The principal investigator (PI) is responsible for the training and safety of workers and students involved in their research activities.


When developing the proper safety procedures and when conducting training to the research staff, refer to the Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each material proposed for use in the research.


This information should help inform the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), precautions for safe handling, emergency procedures, proper storage and segregation of chemicals, and appropriate first aid. It is important to include this information during protocol preparation and when applying for a radiation permit, animal use, or biosafety authorization.


In some cases, the use of specific pathogens or chemicals necessitates that workers enroll in a medical surveillance program. For more information or assistance contact EHS at 303-724-0242.


 Minors in Labs

While EHS encourages and supports educational programs for youths on campus, special care must be taken to ensure the safety of minors entering the laboratory spaces. Any employee who brings a minor into a lab space must have the necessary approvals and consents which includes proper training and parental consent. Please contact 303-724-2271 or 303-724-2532 for more information on required EHS trainings for minors.


University Risk Management has developed documents to assist employees interested in bringing minors into the laboratory. These include a checklist and minor guidelines that outline supervisor and department responsibilities and consent templates to be completed and signed by the minor/parent/guardian. Please visit the University Risk Management website or contact for more information.


Because minors may be more susceptible to toxic agents and chemicals and may be less aware of the risks and hazards present in the lab environment they require more supervision. Minors are also limited in what activities they can perform; further details outlining restrictions can be found in the University of Colorado Denver policy Minors in Laboratories and Animal Facilities.​​


 Lab Emergencies

Emergency Contact Information

EHS provides emergency contact tagging for every laboratory space that is in use. Each space is assigned to the responsible Principal Investigator with up to three emergency contacts per tag. Personal numbers are provided to the UCD Police Department, while the UCD Police contact number is posted on the tag 303-724-4444. Please contact  303-724-0345 or to update emergency contact information.


Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guides

Please make sure that current Emergency Preparedness guides are available in each laboratory. To obtain a current copy of the UCD Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide please visit the UCD Emergency Management website or contact the Emergency Management Division at​


 Lab Safety Policies

Food and Drink in the Laboratory

Eating, drinking, applying cosmetics or any other activities that may increase the ingestion of hazardous chemical, radioactive, or infectious materials are prohibited in areas where these materials are used. The following are guidelines that must be adhered to for all at the Anschutz Medical Campus:


·         At the Anschutz Medical Campus, with the "open lab design", no food or drinks are permitted beyond the card access doors unless:

·         Preparation and consumption of food and drink is in a designated office area separated by a closed door from any work with hazardous, radioactive, and/or infectious materials. The area must be clearly designated as safe for food storage and /or consumption.

·         Storage of food and beverages are not allowed in refrigerators, cold rooms or ice chests that contain any hazardous chemical, radioactive, or infectious materials. Storage of food and beverages is prohibited except in designated break areas away from laboratories.

·         Cups, water bottles and other food and beverage items are not allowed in laboratory modules, alcoves or procedure rooms.

·         Food stored in the laboratory that is used for research must be labeled "Not for human use."


Hazardous Materials Transport, Glove Removal and Hand Washing


It is the policy of the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus that hazardous chemicals, radioisotopes, infectious materials, animals, biological samples, or other hazardous/potentially hazardous materials transported within and between public spaces of research buildings are required to have secondary containment and use restricted paths of transport. Please follow the below guidelines when transporting hazardous materials at AMC:


·         Hazardous materials must be transported in containers with lids or covers to reduce potential incidents of spill and/or odor concerns.

·         Remove gloves and wash hands before touching door handles, sink handles, elevator buttons and before leaving the laboratory.

·         Each research building on campus is equipped with a service elevator. Transport all potentially hazardous materials in the service elevators only. Hazardous materials must not be transported in the passenger elevators.

Please refer to the UCD 
Hazardous Materials Transport Policy for additional information. Minors in the Laboratory- Children under the age of 18 are not permitted in any laboratory area where hazardous, biological and radioactive materials are used or stored. Such entry is prohibited unless it is the context of a scheduled, approved, and properly supervised department activity, such as an open house or tour.​7

 Hazardous Equipment

Flow Cytometers
Flow cytometers are automated instruments that provide measures of the quantitative properties of single cells, one cell at a time. An analytical Flow Cytometry and/or High Speed Cell Sorter Facility may contain biological, chemical, radioactive, laser and other hazards. Biological exposures to infectious or potentially infectious materials may arise in a flow cytometry core from sample handling or from aerosols and droplets generated by the use of an analyzer or high-speed cell sorter.

Read more about Flow Cytometry and Biosafety.​

Compressed Gas Cylinders
Compressed gases and cryogenic liquids are commonplace in our research and maintenance operations. Knowing the specific properties of a gas is essential for the safe handling and storing of a gas cylinder.

Important Gas Cylinder Handling and Storage Guidelines:

  • Secure all cylinders, empty and full, to prevent them from being knocked over or falling.
  • Check to see that the cylinder contents are identified on a tag on the cylinder valve. Do not rely on color-coding.
  • Store cylinders in a well-ventilated, dry area, free from excessive heat and sources of ignition.
  • When the cylinder is not in use, keep the cylinder cap on.
  • Flammable gas cylinders should always be stored at least 20 feet away from oxygen and other oxidizers or separated by an approved fire barrier. This does not apply to individual welding carts.

For additional guidelines for the safe handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders please refer to UCD Gas Cylinder Guidance document


If you will be using lasers in your work at UC Denver (AMC or DDC), contact EHS. Most lasers used at UCD will require registration. Obtain the laser classification from the manufacturer before registering. Lasers with a specific energy range or specification may fit the description of a particular classification, but you should still refer to the manufacturer who is obligated to classify the laser. Indicate modifications and the configuration to be used to properly classify.

When preparing to set up a laboratory where lasers will be used, post the appropriate signage for the laser hazard (refer to laser classification for guidance on proper signage) (may depend on configuration) and make certain that lab personnel are provided withappropriate training and eye protection.

For more information refer to the OSHA Technical Guidance document laser section regarding Laser Hazards.

Laser Safety Training (SAH0449) - This one-hour course is designed to provide awareness of the fundamentals of Class IIIB (moderate) and IV (high-power) lasers or laser systems.​


 Certificates of Environmental Compliance

Certain funding agencies, including the Department of Defense, require a completed "Certificate of Environmental Compliance" before awarding a grant. The University of Colorado Denver has a safety plan that allows the university to accept funds through the DOD. Labs that have been awarded a grant through the DOD do not have to develop their own safety plan, but do need to request signature of the certificate form by the acting EHS Director. Requests for certificates should be submitted to EHS for completion. A review of past lab inspections, training records, and corrections of audit items will be reviewed prior to awarding the certificate.​​9