Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Appendix N



The performance of maintenance and construction activities in laboratory facilities creates special safety and research considerations.

These procedures help to ensure:

  • Facilities Services personnel are protected from physical, chemical, biological and radioactive hazards by clearing / decontaminating the area or laboratory equipment (“Authorized Work Zone”) before the maintenance / construction activities are conducted.  If secondary measures must be taken because the PI was unable to decontaminate the area because of restrictions (drain traps, duct work, vacuum lines, etc.), Facilities Services’ Standard Operating Procedures will be followed to ensure personnel are protected.  The secondary measures will only be used when the restrictions prevent the Principle Investigator (Laboratory Supervisor) from performing their responsibilities of clearing and decontaminating.
  • Research is not jeopardized by maintenance and construction activities by providing Facilities Services personnel measures to follow before the work activities are conducted.
  • Maintenance and construction activities are conducted in an efficient manner by providing pertinent information (SeeWork Permit for Maintenance / Construction Activities in Laboratories) before the work activities are conducted.Listed below are the primary steps to follow when Facilities Services receives a work order to perform maintenance / construction activities in a laboratory.  A detailed description is also provided for each primary step.

Primary Steps:

  • Facilities Services contacts the PI / designee before performing maintenance / construction activities (work activities).
  • PI / designee completes “Work Permit” and prepares the “Authorized Work Zone” where Facilities Operations will be conducting maintenance / construction activities.
  • Facilities Services discusses / reviews completed Work Permit with the PI / designee.
  • Facilities Services signs and posts “Work Permit” and “CAUTION SIGN” at Entrance / Prepares for work activity.
  • Facilities Services conducts the work activity.
  • Facilities Services performs closeout of work activity.

Detailed Steps:

Facilities services contacts the PI or designee before performing work activity.

  • Facilities Services confirms information about where the work activity will be conducted (Building, Room Number, Location, Equipment = Authorized Work Zone) and the type of work activity to be performed, and provides work order number, date / time the work activities will be conducted and anticipated date/time work will be completed.
  • Facilities Services advises laboratory staff if utilities are to be interrupted or shut-off (electricity, water, gas, general ventilation, local exhaust hood ventilation, etc.).

The PI / designee’s duties include:

PI / designee completes “Work Permit for Maintenance / Construction Activities in Laboratories” and prepares the “Authorized Work Zone” for work activities.

  • Identifying lab person (contact name (s) and phone number (s)) that will be immediately available to answer questions that may arise during Facilities Services work activities.
  • Transferring information provided by Facilities Services (Step 1. a.) to Work Permit.
  • Contacting the Radiation Safety Office  (335-8916) if radioactive hazards are present in “Authorized Work Zone”.  The Radiation Safety Office (RSO) will determine that satisfactory decontamination procedures have been completed and conduct a confirming survey.  (If applicable, PI / designee attaches completed survey to work permit.)
  • Advising Facilities Services (See Step 3.  b.) of the types of hazards (Physical, Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, etc.) within the laboratory.  Facilities Services can obtain additional information by requesting the PI’s Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures for the laboratory where the work activities will be conducted, Safety Data Sheets, Laboratory Safety Manual, BioSafety Manual (if applicable), etc.)
  • Following Standard Operating Procedures in Laboratory Safety Manual and / or Biosafety Manual for decontamination measures. Decontaminate all equipment / areas (“Authorized Work Zone”) where work activities are to be conducted (e.g., fume hoods, refrigerators, under benches and sinks, laboratory equipment, etc.).  Where maintenance is to be performed, any infectious agents or chemicals must be removed and stored in a safe place until work is completed.  If applicable, after decontamination procedures have been performed, the spaces under cupboards and benches will be left open to ventilate.
  • Specifying date and time the hazards were decontaminated.
  • Ensuring the “Authorized Work Zone” is cleared of laboratory equipment; Facilities Services may need room to place their tools and ladder.NOTE: Facilities Services will not remove, alter, or move laboratory equipment or hazardous materials, unless moving laboratory equipment subject to request. Laboratory personnel shall decontaminate or otherwise render safe laboratory equipment to be moved by Facilities Services.
  • Providing safety recommendations, if applicable: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be worn by Facilities Services while performing work activities.  The PPE may be recommended as a secondary measure and shall not be used to replace decontamination procedures.
  • Suspending research in the “Authorized Work Zone”. Once the “Authorized Work Zone” has been decontaminated, PI / designee will secure and discontinue work in the “Authorized Work Zone” until Facilities Services completes their assignment.  In addition to the “CAUTION SIGN” and “Work Permit” (See Step 4.) posted at the entrance, the PI will inform all authorized laboratory staff / students that work / research will be discontinued in the “Authorized Work Zone” until the work activities have been completed and the PI has been notified.
  • Signing the work permit and authorizing access to the work area.  Providing completed Work Permit to Facilities Services.
    NOTE:   If Facilities Services is satisfied the “Authorized Work Zone” is cleared and decontaminated, Facilities Services signs and posst the work permit at the entrance and keep a completed copy of work permit for their records.  (See Step 4.)
  • Notifying Facilities Services if research activities resume in the “Authorized Work Zone” before maintenance / construction activities are completed. If research resumes before the activities are completed, the PI / designee will decontaminate the area and complete a new work permit before Facilities Services can resume their duties.

Facilities Services meets with PI/ designee and discusses / reviews completed Work Permit.

  • Facilities Services meets with PI / designee. Facilities Operations and PI /designee discusses / reviews work permit and “Authorized Work Zone”. Maintenance and construction work might involve activities that create loud noises, dusts, chemical vapors (e.g., paints, adhesives, sealants and solvents) and fumes (e.g., welding and torch cutting).  Facilities Operations informs the PI or designee of these potential inconveniences/hazards that will be created during the work activities.  Any questions, comments, concerns, or clarifications will be addressed at this time.
  • If satisfied with completed work permit and conditions of “Authorized Work Zone”, Facilities Services will proceed to Step 4. (Facilities Services signs and posts work permit and Caution Sign at Entrance / Prepares for work activity).
  • If after meeting with PI / designee, Facilities Services is not satisfied with  the completed work permit or conditions of “Authorized Work Zone”, Facilities Services will contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at 335-3041.  EH&S will review work permit / “Authorized Work Zone” and advise.  If Facilities Services is satisfied, they will proceed to Step 4.
  • If PI / designee is not able to decontaminate (e.g., ductwork, drain traps, vacuum lines and pumps, etc.), Facilities Services will follow standard operating procedures for the work activity.  Call EH&S, if consultation is needed or a standard operating procedure is not available.  After meeting with EH&S, if satisfied, proceed to Step

Facilities Services signs and posts work permit and Caution Sign at Entrance / Prepares for work activity.

  • Facilities Services assembles needed tools and personal protective equipment if applicable.
  • Facilities Services confirms date(s) and time(s) of work activity with PI/designee.
  • Facilities Services Signs Work Permit.  Facilities Services posts completed “Work Permit” and “CAUTION SIGN” at entrance notifying personnel that “Maintenance / Construction Activities are in Progress”.  The sign will provide date research is suspended in the “Authorized Work Zone” and contact numbers for PI / designee and Facilities Services.

Facilities Services Conducts Work Activity

  • Facilities Services proceeds with the work activities in accordance with Work Permit. While conducting work activities, Facilities Services:
    •   Follows information on work permit,
    • Follows Standard Operating Procedures, if applicable (e.g., personal protective equipment, emergency procedures, etc.),
    • Does not eat or drink in laboratory area,
    • Does not enter unauthorized areas, and
    • Looks for and obeys any special instructions (e.g., Warning / Caution Signs, etc.).
  • Facilities Services contacts PI / Designee if work is interrupted and informs them on the status of the activity.

    Upon return, Facilities Operations contacts the PI / Designee to determine if the status of the “Authorized Work Zone” has changed.  If research had resumed in the “Authorized Work Zone”, the PI / designee must return to Step 2 – PI / designee completes “Work Permit for Maintenance / Construction Activities in Laboratories” and prepares the area for work activities.

    Note:    No maintenance / construction activities should be carried out until the above provisions have been complied with.

Facilities Services closes out work activities.

  • Facilities Services notifies laboratory staff of completion of work activities and date(s) and time(s) laboratory services will be restored to operation.
  • Facilities Services removes “Work Permit” and CAUTION SIGN (“Maintenance / Construction Activities are in Progress”) from entrance.
  • Facilities Services retains a copy of the completed work permit.