Laboratory Ramp-Down and Temporary Shutdown Checklist: Compliance Requirements during COVID-19

Friday, March 20, 2020

During times of low occupancy, it is a mandate for Plant Operations to reduce and/or shutdown building ventilation systems. The main reason for this is to limit the natural resources consumed during these periods. This mandate cannot be met if research spaces are left disorganized with hazardous materials and wastes stored improperly in fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, gloveboxes or other equipment.

When vacating labs please ensure you have reviewed and are in compliance with the requirements on the Laboratory Ramp-down and Shutdown for Prolonged Periods checklist.

The Safety Office will be completing an audit of laboratory spaces within the next few weeks. Research spaces found to be out of compliance for hazard materials and waste storage will be asked to return to campus to clean their respective areas.

Laboratory Ramp-Down and Temporary Shutdown Checklist

Research COVID Contingency Plan

Critical research includes activities that if suspended would result in the serious loss of research data, resources, equipment, or materials.  If you believe you must continue your research, email for confirmation.

If you have had confirmation that your research is permitted to continue, you must ensure that you have adequately considered the following before continuing work:

  • Entire research group is aware of self-isolation criteria 
  • Social distancing measures required to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • Emergency plans to deal with potential emergency situations are in-acted (spills of chemicals or leaks of gases being handled in the lab, hazardous exposures, etc…)
  • Waterloo working alone policy has been reviewed and implemented
  • An emergency contact list is up to date, on the outside of the lab, and that all researchers are aware of who must be contacted in case of various emergencies
  • Laboratory is stocked with emergency supplies (spills kit, waste collection bottles, etc…)

Ramping down research and shutting down research spaces

The following checklist provides a detailed review of what must be considered when ramping down laboratory activities, or completely shutting down a laboratory for a prolonged period of time.



Complete or N/A


Identify all non-critical activities that can be ramped down, curtailed, suspended or delayed.



Identify primary and backup personnel able to safely perform essential activities.





Complete or N/A


Create a contact list of lab personnel, principal investigator, lab operations manager, and building manager.



Ensure the contact list is saved where it can be remotely accessed by everyone in the lab. Include home and cell phone numbers.



Test your phone tree or email group to facilitate emergency communication amongst lab researchers and staff.





Complete or N/A


Limit new orders to items needed to support minimal critical functions.



If possible, cancel orders for non-essential research materials if they have not yet shipped.



Plan ahead for any outgoing hazmat shipments, both on the shipping and receiving end



Contact loading dock/mail services personnel to notify them of any expected incoming shipments.



Plan ahead for any Dry Ice shipments and ensure they are properly stored.



Physical hazards


Complete or N/A


Close gas valves. If possible, shut off gas to area.



Turn off appliances, hotplates, ovens, equipment, and computers. Unplug if possible.



Secure gas cylinders and store in upright position. Remove regulators and use caps.



Plan for management of non-essential cryogenically cooled equipment like SQUIDS and cryostats.



Protect against flooding from broken pipes. Elevate chemicals, materials, supplies, equipment, electrical wires, off of the floor.



Check that equipment requiring uninterrupted electrical power is connected to an Uninterrupted Power Supply and/or emergency power.



Turn off all water (e.g. Milli-Q water filtration, vacuum filtration, etc…)





Complete or N/A


Decontaminate/sanitize areas of the lab as you would do routinely at the end of the day.



Decontaminate/sanitize and clean any reusable materials.



Document a contamination survey if you have a radioactive material permit for unsealed material.





Complete or N/A


Prepare equipment if routine upkeep is required



Check that refrigerator, freezer, and incubator doors are tightly closed.



Biosafety cabinets: surface decontaminate the inside work area, close the sash and power down. Do NOT leave the UV light on.



Fume hoods: Clear the hood of all hazards, allowing for proper airflow and shut the sash.



Review proper shut down procedures and measures to prevent surging.



Shut down and unplug sensitive electric equipment.



Waste management


Complete or N/A


Collect and label all hazardous chemical. Segregate incompatible chemicals (e.g., in plastic secondary bins or trays).



Biological waste: Disinfect and empty aspirator collection flasks.



Collect all solid biological waste in appropriate containers. Drop off at the ESF.



Collect radioactive waste in appropriate waste containers. Drop off at the ESF



Discard unwanted, non-hazardous chemicals.





Complete or N/A


Lock all entrances to the lab. Ensure key personnel supporting critical functions have access.



Close all windows.



Secure lab notebooks and other data.



Take laptops home.



Research materials


Complete or N/A


Freeze down any biological stock material for long term storage.



Consolidate storage of valuable perishable items within storage units that have backup systems.



Fill dewars and cryogen containers for sample storage and critical equipment.



Secure all hazardous materials in long-term storage. Label and securely cap every container.



Ensure all flammables are stored in flammable storage cabinets.



Ensure that all items are labeled appropriately. All working stocks of materials must be labeled with the full name of its contents and include hazards.



Remove all chemicals and glassware from benchtops and fume hoods and store in cabinets or appropriate shelving.



Identify peroxide forming compounds or other chemicals (i.e. piranha etch) that may become unstable over time. Peroxide forming compounds must be tested prior to drop off. Please use vent caps on these containers.



Collect contents of any acid/base baths and drop off at the ESF.



Remove infectious materials from biosafety cabinets, and autoclave, disinfect, or safely store them as appropriate.



Confirm inventory of controlled substances (including syringes and needles) and toxins of biological origin. Document in logbook.



Secure physical hazards such as sharps.



Secure radioactive materials as required by your permit. If you need to transfer RAM to another location, please contact



Review UW’s chemical storage guide for more details on proper storage of hazardous materials.

UW Solid and Liquid Chemical Storage Guide



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