Guidelines: Security of Hazardous Materials

Follow these guidelines to minimize opportunities for intentional removal of any hazardous materials from your laboratory:

  1. Develop a site-specific security policy.
    • Make an assessment of your laboratory area for hazardous materials and particular security issues.
    • Develop and implement lab security procedures for your lab group.
    • Train lab group members on security procedures and assign responsibilities.
  2. Control access to areas where hazardous chemicals are used and stored.
    • Limit laboratory access to only those individuals who need to be in the lab.
    • Allow off-hours access only to individuals authorized by the principal investigator.
    • Lock freezers, refrigerators, storage cabinets, and other containers where stocks of biological agents, hazardous chemicals, or radioactive materials are stored when they are not in direct view of workers (for example, when located in unattended storage areas).
    • Do not leave hazardous materials unattended or unsecured at any time.
    • Close and lock laboratory doors when no one is present.
  3. Know who is in the laboratory area.
    • Know who is in the lab area at any given time.
    • Consider using a logbook for staff to sign in and out each day or using carded access devices.
    • Consider having all lab staff wear identification tags.
    • Approach any people you do not recognize who appear to be wandering in laboratory areas and ask if you can help direct them. Immediately report suspicious people/activity to Public Safety (x2222 or 911).
  4. Secure your highly hazardous materials.
    • Use a log to sign highly hazardous materials in and out of secure storage.
    • Take a periodic inventory of all highly hazardous chemicals, biological agents/toxins, radioactive materials, and controlled substances. This could be as simple as frequently looking at your chemical containers to be sure that none are missing.
    • Track the use and disposal of hazardous materials. Report any missing inventory to University Police (x2222 or 911).
    • Know what materials are being ordered and being brought into the laboratory area. Visually screen packages before bringing them to the lab. Packages containing potentially infectious materials should be opened in a biological safety cabinet or other appropriate containment device.
    • Know what materials are being removed from the laboratory area.
  5. Have an emergency plan.
    • Controlled access to laboratory areas can make an emergency response more challenging. This must be considered when emergency plans are developed.
    • Have a protocol for reporting incidents. Laboratory directors, in cooperation with facility safety and security officials, should have policies and procedures in place for the reporting and investigation of incidents or possible incidents, such as undocumented visitors, missing chemicals, or unusual or threatening phone calls.
    • Review and update if necessary the lab's emergency contact information on your lab hazard sign, located near your laboratory door.
  6. Materials of concern: classes of particularly hazardous materials.

Questions regarding hazardous materials security may be addressed to the Chemical Hygiene Officer at or call 302-831-8475.