Science Laboratory Safety Policy


Columbia College is committed to providing a safe and secure laboratory environment for its faculty, staff, students and visitors. The purpose of this policy is to establish a policy for the management of laboratory and research hazards at all Columbia College locations. The Columbia College Chemical Hygiene Plan also provides more details and can be requested from the Laboratory Coordinator.  


This policy applies to employees, visitors, and students at all Columbia College locations who come in contact with science laboratories.  


Laboratory research often involves potentially hazardous and regulated materials, such as biological and chemical agents, toxins, radioisotopes and potentially hazardous equipment. For this reason, regular access to Columbia College laboratories and research support facilities is restricted to the following: Faculty, staff and students whose presence is part of their normal work, supervised research or coursework, or is a consequence of normal academic interaction and collaboration. Access may be granted to other personnel who have received proper authorization. Safeguarding Columbia College resources from unauthorized access, misuse or removal is a duty of all faculty and staff.  

All faculty, students, and staff working in laboratories have the following responsibilities:

  • Understand and follow the Chemical Hygiene Plan and all training received.
  • Report to the Chemical Hygiene Officer any significant problems arising from the implementation of the Chemical Hygiene Plan. 
  • Understand the function and proper use of all personal protective equipment. Wear personal protective equipment when mandated or necessary.
  • Students will sign the Columbia College Student Safety Contract for each term they are enrolled in laboratory courses, or, if they are not enrolled in laboratory courses but will conduct research or otherwise work in the laboratory spaces.
  • Report all facts pertaining to every accident that results in exposure to hazardous or toxic chemicals, and any action or condition that exists which could result in an accident to your instructor or the supervising faculty member. Faculty must file reports with the Lab Coordinator and Safety Officer and fill out a Public Incident Report. 
  • Students enrolled in science courses will not use laboratories outside of regular course meeting time unless permission is granted and arrangements for supervision are made by the instructor and the Laboratory Coordinator is notified.
  • Students conducting research in laboratories outside of class, either as volunteers or as a part of a supervised Research Project must read the Columbia College Science Laboratory Safety Policy and sign the Student Research Release, Waiver and Assumption of the Risk form. If they do not already have a Columbia College Student Safety Contract signed for the term, they must also provide this with the aforementioned documents to the Laboratory Coordinator.
  • Student employees of the sciences are expected to work in the labs outside of class time with instruction from their direct supervisor. They often have regular duties established, and therefore will come and go from labs as needed with their supervisor’s direction. The Columbia College Student Research Release, Waiver and Assumption of the Risk form does not apply to employees of the College. However, student employees must still read the Columbia College Science Laboratory Safety Policy and sign a Columbia College Student Safety Contract if they do not already have one for the term. A copy of their Safety Contract must be submitted to the Laboratory Coordinator.
  • Contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer if any of the above safety procedures are not clearly understood. Contact information can be found on the last page of the CHP.

Student (enrolled, volunteer, research, or employee) Access to Laboratory Facilities

  • To be authorized to work inside the laboratory, each student must sign the Columbia College Student Safety Contract provided by the Columbia College Science Department. Safety training, provided by the Science Department, is required prior to authorization, and will be specific to the lab in which the work will take place and for the materials with which the student will be working.
  • Only those authorized to work inside the laboratory are allowed to enter the area. Non-student guests are prohibited from entering the laboratory unless they meet the “visitor” requirements as outlined below. Each student must provide or be able to provide his or her official Columbia College identification card upon request. 
  • Minors who are not Columbia College students are prohibited from entering the laboratory unless authorized for a sponsored tour or project and accompanied by a faculty member of the appropriate department or Lab Coordinator. Minors who are not Columbia College students, while present on any Columbia College campus property, require adult supervision at all times. Refer to the Minors on Campus Policy.  

Student (enrolled, volunteer, research, or employee) Access to Laboratory Building

  • Building access keys will not be provided to students.
  • Students will not be allowed access to buildings during non-regular hours, except with direct supervision by their supervising faculty or the appointed faculty/staff member stand-in.
  • Non-Columbia College members will not be allowed access to science buildings without an escort from authorized staff, faculty or students.

Student Researcher and Student Volunteer Authorized Access

  • Faculty members are responsible for providing the approved Columbia College Science Laboratory Safety Policy and the Student Research Release, Waiver and Assumption of the Risk form to any student researcher or volunteer who requires access to laboratory facilities without direct supervision during regular business hours (M-F, 9am-5pm). The release form must be signed by the requesting student, the original provided to the Laboratory Coordinator and a copy provided to the student. The students’ signed Safety Contract must also be provided to the Lab Coordinator.
  • If the student requires access outside of regular hours, then the supervising faculty must either be present or appoint a faculty member or the Lab Coordinator to be present with the student in their place.
  • Students who have received authorization from the appropriate authority and completed and turned in the appropriate forms to the Lab Coordinator are considered “authorized laboratory personnel” for the period designated by the authorizing person.
  • An updated list of authorized laboratory personnel will be maintained by the Laboratory Coordinator and supplied to the Office of Campus Safety.

Student Employee Keys

  • To access laboratories during normal business hours, the Laboratory Coordinator may authorize a student employee to be assigned laboratory keys for a temporary period of time. The student and authorizing faculty member must fill out, sign and submit a Key Request Form to the Office of Plant and Facilities. The faculty member authorizing the request will share responsibility for maintaining and returning the keys. The student must maintain direct custody of the keys and may not give them to anyone other than the responsible faculty member. The student may choose to personally return the keys to the Office of Plant and Facilities. 
  • Keys that provide access to buildings will not be provided to students. 
  • Any laboratory keys provided to students must be returned at the specified time as directed by the responsible faculty member.  
  • Lost or misplaced keys must be immediately reported to the Office of Plant and Facilities. 


Visitors to Columbia College laboratories or research support facilities must be escorted by authorized laboratory personnel. Authorized laboratory personnel include those who have prior authorization from any full-time faculty member in the nursing, science or psychology and sociology departments. The visitor must be provided with a brief explanation of safety procedures prior to entering the facilities.

Questions about this Policy  

It is the goal of the College to minimize the risk of injury or illness to anyone who may enter the science laboratories, as well as ensure the optimal level of security for Columbia College facilities. For further information regarding laboratory policies and procedures, please contact the Columbia College Science Laboratory Manager at (573) 875-7867 or Campus Safety after hours at (573) 875-7315.

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