General Lab Safety Laboratory Set-up Requirements

Laboratories should be equipped with furniture and equipment suitable to the hazards in the laboratory. All equipment should be calibrated, certified, and routinely maintained. Procedures should also be established for regular decontamination of equipment and lab surfaces. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) must be developed and implemented for the use, operation, and maintenance of all equipment.

Laboratory Space: Laboratories should have self-closing, lockable doors and screened or sealed exterior windows. Both doors and windows should be locked when the laboratory is unattended. Emergency signs must be posted on the outside of laboratory doors with updated contact and hazard information.

Furniture: Furniture should have smooth, non-porous surfaces that can be easily decontaminated. Vinyl furniture is preferred. Other types of cloth covered furniture should not be used in laboratories because they are difficult or impossible to decontaminate.

Benches: Wood or other porous materials are unacceptable for laboratory benches. Impervious materials that can be decontaminated and are resistant to heat and chemicals should be used. When working with biological materials, chemical disinfectant (such as bleach) is recommended for daily decontamination of work surfaces.

Sinks: Laboratories should have a functional sink, paper towels, and soap for hand washing. Separate sinks should be used for rinsing radioactive materials.

Electrical: All electrical outlets within 3 feet of water sources should be GFI protected.

Emergency Eyewash/Showers: Emergency eyewashes and showers should be located in laboratories and regularly tested according to the Campus Emergency Eyewashes and Showers Program (

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves, safety glasses, lab coats, etc. should be readily available for anyone entering the laboratory. The selection of appropriate PPE should be determined by considering the materials being used and the activities being performed.

Autoclave: If biohazardous waste is being generated in a laboratory, an autoclave for waste decontamination should be available in the facility. The autoclave should be large enough to accommodate the amount and type of waste generated by the laboratory.

Waste Containers: Laboratories should be equipped with separate receptacles for ordinary trash, sharps, biological, chemical, and radioactive waste. See for information on how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Biological Waste: Sharps disposal containers are available for free from Campus Stores. All non-sharp laboratory materials used in experiments with biological materials must be treated prior to disposal by an approved decontamination method, such as autoclaving. Waste materials should be collected in an autoclave bag that is stored in a lidded, leak-proof, and puncture-resistant container. Secondary containment should be used to transport waste bags, and as a receptacle while bags are cooling prior to disposal. All biohazard containers and autoclave bags must display the international biohazard symbol.

Chemical Waste: See UIUC Chemical Waste Management Guide (

Radioactive Waste: See UIUC Radioactive Waste Management Fact Sheet (

Biological Safety Cabinets: Biological safety cabinets are required for activities at Biosafety Level 2 that have the potential for generating aerosols. They must have a current certification (valid for 12 months) and should be not supplied with a gas line. Dual purpose biological safety cabinets/chemical fume hoods are strictly prohibited.

Chemical Fume Hoods: Handling toxic, volatile, corrosive, flammable, or odiferous chemicals should be limited to an approved chemical fume hood. Chemical fume hoods must be evaluated and certified annually by Facilities & Services.

Centrifuges: When centrifuges are used with biohazardous materials, they should be equipped with safety cups to prevent the release of infectious aerosols. An exception would be for centrifuges that are small enough to fit inside a biological safety cabinet.

Refrigerators/Freezers: Explosion-protected refrigerators and freezers should be used for storing flammable liquids at low temperatures. Explosion-protected units provide no ignition source within storage compartments. Explosion-proof units provide no ignition source both inside and outside the storage compartment and are appropriate in settings with potentially explosive atmospheres and where all electrical equipment (instruments, circuitry, lights, etc) is explosion-proof. All enclosed laboratory equipment subject to explosion should be labeled to indicate that it has been safeguarded from explosion or that it is not safe and no flammable solvents or materials should be stored therein.

Flammable Liquid Storage Cabinets: The fire code allows a maximum of 30 L (8 gallons) of flammable liquid within a 400 square foot room (20 x 20 feet) without a NFPA-approved flammable liquid storage cabinet. The maximum is increased to 60 L (16 gallons) if a NFPA-approved flammable liquid storage cabinet is present.

Other Chemical Storage Cabinets & Shelving: Chemical storage cabinets should be made of metal, polyethylene, or other chemical resistant material. A NFPA-approved metal storage cabinet should be used for flammable liquids. Polyethylene should be used for corrosives because they will damage metal cabinets if the paint is scratched off. When choosing a storage cabinet, take note of problems related to chemical incompatibilities. For instance, an oxidizer, such as nitric acid, should not be stored on wood shelves because it can cause wood to ignite.

Gas Cabinets: Toxic gas cylinders should be stored in gas cabinets which are ventilated to the outside. Cabinets should be connected to existing ductwork without compromising room and building ventilation. Flammable gas cylinders should likewise be kept in gas cabinets or well-ventilated locations.

Radiation Shielding: Radioactive materials or radiation-producing machines that produce penetrating radiation should be stored and used in areas with adequate shielding.


Contact the Division of Research Safety (333-2755 or via e-mail) or visit our website:

Other General Lab Safety Safety Fact Sheets are available at our website:

Links of Interest

Seperate Containment
Lab Sink