Laboratory Inspections and Outreach

Biology Lab Outreach

The Office of Biological Safety conducts “Outreach Visits” to all campus labs conducting research covered in a biosafety protocol, in an effort to improve the service we provide to the campus community and to ensure we remain compliant with the NIH Guidelines.

PIs or designated lab members should complete the Biosafety Self Assessment form and return by email using the address listed below prior to a scheduled outreach visit by OBS.

To request and schedule an outreach visit at your convenience, please call or email our office:

biosafety@fpm.wisc.edu, 608-263-2037

Visits to facilities are conducted to ensure safe and compliant conduct of biological research.

Our goals include

  • meet the needs of researchers for guidance on biosafety and regulatory issues;
  • facilitate communication between staff and OBS;
  • discuss facility issues;
  • ensure that our records accurately reflect ongoing research activities;
  • visit each laboratory every 1–2 years

These visits are designed to be informational, instructional and collegial. Here at the OBS it is important for us to develop a relationship with our laboratory PIs, graduate students, technicians and laboratory staff and support staff.

Through this relationship the OBS can be a resource for biosafety protocols, lab safety practices, regulatory information and updates, training and guidance. These elements are essential to foster growth in our exemplary research institution.

Chemistry Lab Visits

The Laboratory Visit Program is an educational and advisory opportunity designed to improve the overall safety of campus laboratories. The program utilizes the expertise of  the EHS Department to identify potential safety hazards and to raise the level of awareness of Principal Investigators (PIs) and lab staff on the safety and regulatory requirements for their specific labs. It is also an outlet for faculty, staff and students to bring their questions and concerns to EH&S staff.

Areas of review:

  • Documentation (training records, CHP, etc.)
  • Egress and housekeeping
  • Emergency equipment
  • General safety (machine guards, refrigerators, electrical safety)
  • Chemical safety (storage, usage, labeling)
  • Compressed gases
  • Chemical waste and unwanted chemicals
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Ventilation and engineering controls
  • Regulatory codes (OSHA, EPA, Building Code, University Requirement)

How we do it

A review of the laboratory requires the presence of the PI or other knowledgeable person. We need to understand the processes in the lab in order to do an effective review. We will also use the Laboratory Safety Visit Checklist (PDF) to ensure that we cover some of the more basic requirements of laboratory safety.

This is not a surprise visit; these are the questions that we will be asking and areas we will be observing. View the explanation of checklist items that goes question-by-question through the list to explain what we are asking.

At the completion of the lab visit

After we have completed the Laboratory Safety Visit Checklist we will discuss what each lab is doing well and what areas may need improvement. A written report with our recommendations will be sent to the PI and/or Lab Manager. The report will itemize any issues that we see and include suggestions for improvements – most of which can be accomplished quickly and at little cost to the laboratory. Some of the issues identified may require more effort from EH&S staff and the PI and therefore may take more time to implement. EH&S staff will work with you to provide solutions to identified issues.

How to schedule a visit

The Chemical Safety Office Staff works through building managers and department heads to schedule times with PIs in targeted buildings. We can come to any lab upon request; call Chemical Safety (608-265-5700) or email us at chemsafety@fpm.wisc.edu.