Laboratory Move Guidelines

The following are some general safety tips for moving laboratories:

  • Return compressed gas cylinders and lecture bottles that are no longer needed to the vendor. Arrange with the vendor to pick up retained gas cylinders and deliver them to new locations. Be sure the caps are on the cylinders.
  • Clean out darkrooms. Photography equipment must be drained prior to moving. Stock chemicals need to be packaged up or disposed appropriately. See Chemical Safety checklist.
  • Clean and decontaminate the spaces that are being vacated including removal of all bench paper and all contents of cabinets and equipment left behind. Make sure that shared equipment and locations are included in the cleanout.
  • Notify EH&S of any highly toxic or highly reactive chemicals that have been used (e.g., perchloric acid).
  • Notify EH&S of any areas or equipment that cannot be fully decontaminated (e.g., materials potentially containing asbestos).
  • Bleed any energy from electrical equipment (e.g., capacitors) bound for trash.
  • Arrange with building manager to have certified refrigeration personnel (steamfitters) bleed Freon from all refrigerators and freezers to be trashed.
  • Do not store material to be moved or discarded in hallways or otherwise block fire exits.
  • Discard equipment that is damaged (e.g., electrical equipment with frayed wiring) rather than moving it to the new lab.
  • Communicate closely with the building manager and/or move coordinator to let him/her know what relevant steps have been completed in your labs. This could be done by delivering copies of completed check lists to the building manager/move coordinator or posting them on lab doors at the end of the move.


Chemical Safety
Luke Hendricks
Office: 608-209-5224

Biological Safety
Office: 608-263-2037

Radiation Safety
Matt Labron
Office: 608-219-2657

Laboratory Move Safety Checklists

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Chemical Safety Checklist

  1. Take the time to make those hard decisions about what you want move to your new lab and what you want to dispose of.
  2. For the group of chemicals that you wish to dispose of, call Safety to come to your lab to make decisions on how chemical should be disposed. In a typical molecular biology lab, the majority of chemicals can safely be disposed via the laboratory sink or in the trash. Other chemicals will have to be picked up by Safety and sent to a commercial waste contractor. Experienced personnel in our department can quickly do this sort for you.
  3. Fill out our surplus chemical form for the chemicals that Safety will pick up.
  4. Make a request for Safety to remove unwanted chemicals and solvent carboys.
  5. Request containers (flip-packs) for the chemicals that you want moved to your new lab.
  6. Pack your chemicals.
    • Pay attention to the compatibility of the items that you are packing (see Appendix F of the UW Laboratory Safety Guide).
    • Wrap bottles or use packing material to keep glass from touching glass.
    • Attach a packing sheet to each flip-pack so the people moving your chemicals know what they are handling. If you use a spread sheet or a database program to make this inventory, we recommend keeping this as a chemical inventory at your new lab.
  7. Contact Chemical Safety to make arrangements for the move. Safety will move your chemicals from your current loading dock to the loading dock of your new building.

We urge you to thoroughly check all of your storage areas to make sure you do not leave chemicals behind. Abandoned and unknown chemical containers can be difficult and dangerous to dispose of properly.

Your move to this new lab space is an opportunity to start fresh.

  • Store your chemicals using a good compatibility plan.
  • If possible order chemicals that you will use within one year.
  • Keep a chemical inventory of what you have in stock.

Biological Materials Checklist

  1. Use the move as an opportunity for housecleaning with reduction of hazardous materials prior to the move and creation of an inventory of materials to be kept. Identify all biological materials stored in labs and other locations (e.g., cold rooms, storage areas, shared equipment and spaces). Include materials left behind by previous researchers in your determination of what will be disposed and what will be moved.
  2. Biological materials left behind:
    • Dispose of biological wastes (infectious and potentially infectious materials) as was done routinely for that location – through autoclaving, chemical disinfection, etc. The chemical disinfectant needs to be efficacious for the materials to be disinfected and appropriate contact times used. Bleach has broad-range efficacy with 1% commonly used for surface disinfection and 10% final concentration for cell culture and spills.
    • Render recombinant organisms (even Biosafety Level 1) inactive prior to disposal (usually through autoclaving or chemical disinfection).
    • Clean and decontaminate surfaces (lab benches, sinks, etc.) with an efficacious disinfectant. Empty all materials from equipment (e.g., biosafety cabinets, incubators, freezers) and decontaminate equipment thoroughly with an efficacious disinfectant.
    • Dispose of medical sharps through MERI as usual using the MERI collection containers for that building; decontaminate non-medical sharps (if potentially infectious) and package appropriately (double-bagged and boxed) for regular trash pickup – labeled as “Glass for disposal” and with an OK-to-Trash sticker.
    • Deface hazard signage on equipment that has been decontaminated and remove door signs.
    • It is optimal to have a walk-through with the building manager as part of a lab close-out.
  3. Vehicles and equipment used for move:
    • We recommend against use of personal vehicles.
    • If commercial handlers or vehicles are used, the federal (DOT) regulations for hazardous materials shipping apply.
    • Use of UW vehicles by UW personnel on campus is exempt from the DOT regulations but safe transport is still the primary concern. Use the precautions outlined below for safe transport of biological materials.
    • For short distances between buildings, moving materials on carts might be appropriate. Use carts with sides or lips to prevent packages, boxes, etc. from sliding off.
  4. Biological materials to be moved:
    • Train handlers regarding hazards present and use hazard communication including signage on each container or piece of equipment with hazardous contents (e.g., biohazard stickers on containers with infectious and potentially infectious materials). An itemized list of contents is recommended.
    • Include a spill kit (e.g., absorbent, disinfectant, personal protective equipment) with each load and have a spill protocol that details how spills should be handled.
    • For infectious or potentially infectious materials: use leak-proof primary and secondary containers, sufficient absorbent material to soak up all liquids present, surface disinfection of containers and hazard signage. Packaging that meets the DOT HazMat regulations is preferred for these materials and is required if commercial carriers or vehicles are utilized. Persons preparing the packages for transport by commercial carriers must be trained and certified for HazMat Shipping.
    • Transfer biological samples in durable plastic screw-cap tubes whenever possible. Glass tubes or snap-cap microfuge tubes can be placed inside larger plastic screw-cap tubes to minimize chances of breakage or leakage.
    • Examples of packaging material include: Petri plates, tubes and tubes in racks can be placed in plastic Ziploc bags surrounded by generous amounts of absorbent material (e.g., paper towels, cotton batting) within secondary leak-proof containers such as plastic or Styrofoam boxes or coolers that are sealed with tape. Package materials tightly enough to minimize shifting of contents with absorbent or partitioning materials to separate inner containers.
    • To maintain cold temperatures in coolers, cold packs are preferred over dry ice since containers with dry ice cannot be sealed tightly. Explosions and injuries can result if containers holding dry ice are taped tightly closed instead of being vented.
    • Equipment: empty and drain water baths, incubators, etc. and disinfect prior to move. Decontaminate centrifuges (chamber and rotors) and remove rotors for the move. In general, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for moving equipment safely.
    • Biosafety cabinets (BSCs): Contact the Environmental Health Program (262-1809) regarding formaldehyde decontamination (if applicable) and certification.
    • Freezers and refrigerators: emptying contents of the equipment is optimal but moving this equipment intact is possible for short distances. All contents must be in sealed unbreakable containers and the unit must remain closed, locked if possible and sealed (e.g., with cables). All loose items must be placed in boxes or fixed in position to avoid shifting of contents that could result in breakage and spills. Note: freezers and refrigerators containing regulated biological materials may not be transported intact if commercial carriers are used since this method does not meet the DOT requirements for packaging.
    • Select Agents: In addition to the precautions outlined above for safe transport of biological materials, security requirements apply. Only authorized users can handle the materials and authorized users must accompany these materials at all times. Chain of custody forms need to be completed.
  5. Move into the new location(s). Check for spills and equipment damage as unloading and moving in to new lab space. Post new signage with startup and use of materials in new locations. Principal investigators (PIs) will need to update locations by amending their biosafety protocols.

Please contact our OBS for assistance or other biosafety concerns. Good luck on the move!

Radioactive Materials Checklist

  1. Add new rooms in new building by the appropriate sections of form 99s. It’s best to keep the number of rooms to a minimum; try to condense use to as few rooms as possible.
  2. Post and label new rooms with labels and postings provided by Radiation Safety. All new rooms must have the following signage before radioactive material arrives:
    1. CautionRadioactive Material,
    2. No Smoking, No Eating, No Drinking,
    3. Restricted Area Authorized Personnel Only,
    4. Laboratory Emergency Information door card,
    5. State regulators “notice to employees” form, and
    6. Radiation Safety Emergency Procedures.
  3. Package all radioactive waste and unwanted radioactive material and submit a pickup request . No radioactive waste will be moved into the new building.
  4. Package all radioactive material that you wish to bring to the new building. Contact your HP (or to have the material driven to the new building.  Remember, signage must be in place when material arrives.
  5. Submit a room removal request by completing the appropriate sections of form 99s.
  6. After all radioactive material has been removed, do a final survey of your old rooms and send your HP. If the old rooms are shared with other PIs who will continue working with radioactive materials and are not moving, there is no need to do a final survey.
  7. Any lab equipment labeled with “caution-radioactive material” stickers such as centrifuges, gel dryers, speed vacs, etc. must be surveyed before the move. Also, defrost all freezers that contained (or potentially contained) radioactive materials.
  8. Radiation Safety will complete a confirmatory survey of all spaces and equipment before it is cleared for release.
  9. Make maps of new rooms, conduct and post initial survey and complete monthly (~30 days) thereafter.

Please contact your HP or the Office of Radiation Safety at with questions and for help with any and all of the above points.