Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Laboratory Signage Program


Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) and Facilities Operations have worked together to improve worker protection, emergency response, and security for laboratories using a laboratory notification and warning sign. The goals of the Laboratory Signage Program are to:

  1. Protect human health and safety.
  2. Protect research.
  3. Identify what types of personal protective equipment and information are needed before entering the laboratory to protect oneself or the research in the laboratory.
  4. Provide a flexible program that customizes a laboratory entrance sign for each type of lab that can be updated as the hazards in the lab change.
The Laboratory Signage Program currently utilizes the following:
 Chemical Hazard Assessment (ExcelTM Spreadsheet)
Laboratory Sign Template (Fillable PDF)
Instructions for Laboratory Signage – IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ!
  • 1.   Download, save, and open the ExcelTM spreadsheet “ChemicalHazardAssessment_LabSignage”

  • 2.   Tab 1 of ExcelTM spreadsheet titled “PI Lab Information”:
    1. a.   Populate cells with laboratory information:
      1. i.     PI First and Last Name, if signage represents a shared laboratory space with multiple PIs, populate cell with all PI names
      2. ii.    Building
      3. iii.   Room
  • 3.   Tab 2 on ExcelTM spreadsheet titled “Data In”:
    1. a.   Populate the CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) numbers based upon your chemical inventory. *Do NOT fill in the Material/Chemical tab. The spreadsheet will auto-fill this information along with the Hazards from a separate Lookup Table (Tab 5). For assistance identifying CAS numbers:
      1. i.    Look on chemical labels or Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
      2. ii.   Use Tab 5 “Lookup Table” to look for CAS numbers
      3. iii.  Use an internet browser
    2. PLEASE NOTE that the Excel sheet may recognize certain CAS numbers as dates and convert them to date format. To prevent this try one of the following workarounds:
      1. i.    Use CTRL + V to paste in the CAS numbers
      2. ii.   Use right click and “paste special” and select “paste as text” to paste in the CAS numbers
      3. iii.  Use Notepad or Wordpad to type your CAS numbers and then copy and paste from there into Excel
    3. b.   Fill in Chemical Quantity information in the appropriate column for each entry. For example, a gas quantity would be entered as cubic feet in the “Quantity Gas” column, a liquid would be entered as liters in the “Quantity Liquid” column and a solid would be entered as kilograms in the “Quantity Solid” column. *Quantities MUST be entered in Cubic Feet, Liters or Kilograms as appropriate.
    4. c.   The spreadsheet will automatically aggregate chemical quantities by hazard and send them to Tab 3 (“Data Out”) and Tab 4 (“Signage Entry”).
  • 4.   Tab 3 on ExcelTM spreadsheet Titled “Data Out”:
    1. a.   Chemical Quantities are grouped automatically by hazard and totals will be aggregated here. Liters are converted to gallons and kilograms to pounds aligning with International Fire Code units.
    2. PLEASE NOTE that the Lookup Table has many common chemicals but not all. If chemical name and hazard data does not auto populate after typing in CAS number, it may mean the chemical is not currently in the Lookup Table database and any quantity you type in the spreadsheet will not be included in your totals. Please keep track of these chemical quantities separately and then add them to the appropriate hazard quantities generated by the spreadsheet before transferring them to the PDF sign. *Please email Tom at EH&S (Step 6) with the names and CAS numbers of chemicals not in the Lookup Table. Over time the data base will become more comprehensive as more chemicals are added.
  • 5.   Download, save and open fillable PDF sign template titled “Fillable PDF Template Laboratory Signage”:
    1. a.   Fill in the top left fields with laboratory specific information, such as department, building, and room(s).
    2. b.   Check the Yes or No box located top right, indicating whether it is safe for Custodial Services to enter your laboratory. This also applies to protecting research that might be disturbed by custodial activities.
    3. c.   Fill in the contact fields with PI, laboratory manager and/or key personnel contact information. Indicate whether the contact information represents a PI for the laboratory by checking the yes/no box below each set of fields acknowledging some shared laboratory spaces have multiple PIs. At least one emergency/after hours contact number must be provided, more than one is highly recommended.
    4. d.   Fill in the Chemical Quantity Information with the numbers from Tab 4 (“Signage Entry”) of the completed Excel™ Spreadsheet. *Remember to add quantities from chemicals not in the Lookup Table database to the totals from “Signage Entry” tab.
    5. e.   Check applicable boxes for additional hazards present (lasers class 3R, 3B or 4, high voltage, research animals, biosafety level 1, 2 or 3, radioactive material use, and cryogenic material use and quantity).
    6. f.   Check the appropriate boxes or fill in the empty space for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to enter laboratory space.
    7. g.   Use the Notes space for additional information about the laboratory space. This space should also be used to identify inert gases stored/used in the laboratory and approximate quantities in cubic feet (cf).
    8. h.   Fill in the Date you created the sign. The sign must be reviewed and updated annually.
  • 6.   Save your completed Excel™ spreadsheet and fillable Adobe Acrobat sign, and send copies to Tom Ebeling, EH&S Laboratory Safety Specialist at tom.ebeling@wsu.edu. You may also contact Tom for assistance at 509-335-0948. Please also include in the email the names and CAS numbers of any chemicals not in the Lookup Table that you have in your inventory. Thank you!
  • *If you encounter problems emailing the completed spreadsheet, use Microsoft OneDrive to send your spreadsheet to Tom Ebeling. Instructions on using OneDrive can be found in the document below:



Program Changes as a Result of Updated Hazard Communication Standard

The Laboratory Signage Program has been updated to reflect recent changes to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 296-901 Hazard Communication. This standard has been aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of classifying and labeling chemicals, or GHS for short. Specifically, the standard establishes new symbols called pictograms, which are required on chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

These new pictograms are now included in the Laboratory Signage Program. While you may be familiar with some of the pictograms, others are brand new or may be unfamiliar to some people. Some of the pictograms represent one type of chemical hazard (e.g. acute toxicity) while others represent multiple hazards (e.g. carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive toxicity, etc.).

To aid users of the Laboratory Signage Program and assure that appropriate information is displayed on the signs, a description of what the pictograms represent has been placed below. You can also access a printable PDF version of this information by clicking here.

Pictograms and Hazards

Health Hazard
Health Hazard Pictogram
Respiratory Sensitizer
Reproductive Toxicity
Target Organ Toxicity
Aspiration Toxicity
Flame Pictogram
Emits Flammable Gas
Organic Peroxides
Exclamation Mark
 Exclamation Mark Pictogram
Skin Sensitizer
Acute Toxicity (harmful)
Narcotic Effects
Respiratory Tract Irritant
Gas Cylinder
Gas Cylinder Pictogram
Gases Under Pressure
Corrosion Pictogram
Skin Corrosion/Burns
Eye Damage
Corrosive to Metals
Exploding Bomb
Exploding Bomb Pictogram
Organic Peroxides
Flame Over Circle
Flame Over Circle Pictogram
Environment Pictogram
Aquatic Toxicity
Skull and Crossbones
Skull and Crossbones Pictogram
Acute Toxicity (fatal/severe)

* Non-Mandatory Under WAC 296-901, Hazard Communication.

Signage Program Tips

The WSU phone number should be the Principal Investigator’s (PI) or secondary contact’s office number.

The emergency contact numbers should be phone numbers where the person can in most instances, be reached any time of the day. This will most likely be a cell phone. There should be at least two emergency contacts and one of those should always be the PI. Emergency contacts should be lab members with sufficient knowledge of the chemicals, equipment and processes in that specific lab so they can provide this valuable information in an emergency situation to responders if necessary. Beside the PI, these individuals will usually be lab managers or post-docs.