Laboratory Safety

UC Davis has well-established laboratory, biosafety, and radiation safety programs.  Here are some resources to prepare you for your annual review and meeting of safety regulations.

Laboratory Required Training

The risks associated with laboratory research are greatly reduced or eliminated when proper precautions and practices are followed in the laboratory. Two examples of this are the PPE training offered by Risk and Safety Solutions and the UC Fundamentals of Laboratory Safety.  These classes are required before you can work in a UC laboratory. Every three years the UC Fundamentals of Laboratory Safety Refresher training needs to be taken to stay current.

Laboratory Hazards

Laboratory Chemicals

UC Davis has developed the Chemical Hygiene Plan to manage and mitigate chemical hazards.  The manual is intended to be the cornerstone of your safety program and is designed to aid faculty, staff, and students in maintaining a safe environment to teach and conduct research.  Chemical inventory is tracked in the online UC Chemicals tool, while Hazardous (Chemical) Waste is tracked and removed through the WASTe online program.


The Biological Safety Office ensures the safe use and proper containment of infectious biological agents and recombinant DNA/RNA. Research that involves these materials requires a Biological Use Authorization (BUA), which can be initiated from the Risk & Safety Solutions home page.


The purpose of UC Davis’s Health Physics Program is to assure the safe use of ionizing radiation through training, consultation, and surveillance consistent with University, State, and Federal regulations. The UC Davis Radiation Safety Manual describes the requirements for the use of ionizing radiation and the University’s Health Physics Program; this guide is prepared for Principal Investigators as an aid in complying with the State of California, Broad Scope License for use of radioactive materials. Radiation Use Authorizations (RUAs) and Radioactive Materials (RAM) are tracked in the online UC Radiation program. Prior to working with RAM or radiation producing machines, required training needs to be completed.

Compressed Gasses

Compressed gas cylinders present significant physical and health hazards due to high pressure gases contained within the cylinders. They must be treated with caution, because a leak in an enclosed space can displace oxygen and create an asphyxiation hazard.


Autoclaves (steam sterilizers) are metal pressure vessels that are used for steam sterilization of media, instruments, and labware, and for decontamination of biological waste. Autoclaves function by pressurizing steam in an airtight chamber, which increases the steam temperature significantly. The superheated steam kills all microorganisms and degrades most macromolecules rapidly. Autoclaves are generally easy to use but they are ineffective and potentially very hazardous if operated incorrectly, especially if the door is opened too soon or too rapidly after a run is completed. Autoclave waste packaging, treatment, and handling are also subject to regulations which carry substantial penalties if waste is handled incorrectly. You must be trained on the use of each autoclave to ensure that it is used safely, effectively, and in compliance with applicable regulations.


Cryogenic materials such as liquid nitrogen, helium, oxygen, and solid dry ice are, by definition, extremely cold and have a normal boiling point below -150o C (-240o F). Contact between cryogenic materials and exposed skin can produce a painful burn. A splash of cryogenic liquid to the eye can cause loss of vision. Always wear proper personal protective equipment including a buttoned lab coat, cryogenic apron and long pants or a long skirt, cryogen handling gloves – (right) or heavy leather gloves, safety goggles, and a face shield when the risk of splash is high whenever handling cryogenic materials.

Magnetic Fields

The primary hazard associated with magnetic fields is its attraction of magnetic objects. Secondary hazards associated with most, but not all, magnetic fields include cryogenic and electrical hazards. Electrical hazards such as exposed leads are present with most magnetic field instrumentation. Superconducting magnets present a unique hazard from quenching. For the purposes of this SOP, a magnetic field will be considered potentially hazardous if it exceeds 600 gauss (60 mT) or the field produced maintains strength greater than 5 gauss over a distance of 6 inches

Departments with Laboratory Hazards at the Office of Research

  • Air Quality Research Center
  • Bodega Marine Laboratory
  • Campus Mass Spectroscopy Facility
  • Center for Health and the Environment
  • Center for Watershed Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary Center for Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility
  • Tahoe Environmental Research Center