Chapter 5 - Emergency Prep


5.0 Emergency Preparedness ​(Top) 



CALL 9-911 from any campus phone or dial 911 from any cell phone,

or off campus phone to reach Geneva Police.

Consult the Emergency Response Guide for more information.


Emergencies can occur at any time, without warning.  Careful planning, with an emphasis on safety, can help members of the Cornell community handle crises and emergencies with appropriate responses, and could save lives.  Every member of the Cornell community shares responsibility for emergency preparedness.  Unit heads are responsible for ensuring that their units have emergency plans in place, and that all persons including Faculty, staff and students are familiar with those emergency plans.  Unit heads are also responsible for assigning emergency preparedness and response duties to appropriate staff members.

5.1 Cornell Emergency Plan (Top)

Cornell University organizes, coordinates, and directs available resources toward an effective response to, and recovery from emergencies.  The effectiveness of this effort is dependent on the development of a comprehensive central plan and individual college/unit plans.  The university, therefore, expects colleges, divisions and individual departments to develop detailed emergency plans.  This policy includes a chain of command establishing the authority and responsibilities of campus officials and staff members, and requires that colleges, divisions, and individual departments designate emergency coordinators with the authority to make modifications in emergency procedures and to commit resources for emergency preparedness and recovery, as necessary.

5.1.1 Unit Emergency Planning (Top)

The Emergency Planning and Recovery system provides tools and guidance to colleges, divisions, and individual departments in developing detailed unit emergency plans. Policy 2.10 Emergency Planning requires that every college and major administrative unit have designated emergency coordinators.  The emergency coordinator should be a full-time member of the administrative team, and preferably an experienced employee who is thoroughly familiar with College/ Administrative Unit and University procedures.  Knowledge of programs and physical facilities in their College/ Administrative Unit is also imperative.  This person will coordinate their College's/Administrative Unit emergency plan as well as oversee that the College's/Administrative Unit each prepares a unit emergency plan.  Each College/ Administrative Unit leader (e.g. Dean or Vice President) is responsible for designating an Emergency Coordinator.  This person is responsible for gathering and communicating emergency information, coordinating and assisting in evacuations, maintaining emergency response forms and other emergency plan materials.

The Emergency Coordinator must be familiar with the programs and physical facilities, and should be a person with the management experience and authority to:
  • Collaborate with departments to develop and maintain the information in the Unit Emergency Plan.
  • Recruit a core "Emergency Preparedness Committee" that represents staff, Faculty, and principal investigators from the unit's major sub-divisions or locations.
  • Arrange related staff safety education and training.
  • Coordinate resources for emergency preparedness and recovery.
  • Purchase emergency supplies and equipment.
  • Be ready to support managers during an emergency incident (and be called back to Cornell if necessary).
  • Be ready to help prepare post-emergency impact summaries and insurance claims.


5.1.2 Evacuation Maps (Top)

The posting of evacuation maps is a unit/department responsibility as part of the development of department and unit emergency plans.  EH&S is available to provide technical assistance to units and departments as they develop their maps.  To assist departments, EH&S has created several different templates in Pagemaker and Adobe PDF format that can be used when making the maps and other related signage.  More information about evacuation plan templates can be found on the Cornell University Emergency Plan webpage.

5.2 Emergency Evacuation Procedures (Top)

General Introduction

A building evacuation is mandatory whenever a fire alarm sounds.  Building occupants should exit immediately, putting the unit evacuation plan into effect. After the building has been evacuated, occupants must wait for a safety inspection before re-entry.
If a complete campus evacuation and closure is necessary during an emergency, it will be announced and coordinated by the Cornell Emergency Management Committee from the University Emergency Operations Center.  Campus evacuations will be sequential to maintain safety and avoid traffic gridlock.

Note that it may or may not be necessary to vacate a specific area during an emergency incident.  Occupants in the area may simply be directed to remain on-site and shut down systems, or they may be asked to move to other sectors of their floor or building.  In some events (such as extended power outages), evacuations are not necessary unless the incident has generated a hazardous materials incident or immediate health and safety risk. In limited emergencies, wait for evacuation instructions and engage the unit's Emergency Response Team to communicate the information throughout the unit.

To Implement an Evacuation

  • Remain calm.
  • Alert Emergency Response Team to assist with evacuation.
  • Communicate clearly and succinctly.
    • Example:
                    We have a ______ type of emergency.
                    Evacuate to ______.
                    Take personal items, such as a coat and keys.
                    DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Assist persons with disabilities.
  • Check offices, classrooms, and restrooms.
  • Turn equipment off, if possible.
  • Close doors, but do not lock them.
  • Take emergency supplies, rosters.
  • Keep exiting groups together.
  • Instructors assist students.
  • Gather at the evacuation site and await instructions.
  • Account for Faculty, staff and students
  • Actual Evacuation Procedures

Evacuation is required:

  • any time the fire alarm sounds,
  • an evacuation announcement is made, or
  • an university official orders you to evacuate.
  1. Turn equipment off, if possible
  2. Quickly, safely shutdown any hazardous operations or processes and render them safe.  Critical emergency coordination staff must follow the unit emergency plan.  All emergency plans for critical operations must be reviewed and approved by Environmental Health & Safety.  Without prior review and approval, staff members may not remain in a building once an evacuation signal or order has been given.
  3. Notify others in the area of the alarm if they did not hear it.
  4. Take emergency supplies and staff rosters, if possible.
    • Exit the room
    • Take jackets or other clothing needed for protection from the weather.
    • Close windows and close, but do not lock doors as you leave.
    • Leave room lights on.
    • If you are away from the unit's room when the alarm sounds you should exit the building immediately and not return to the unit's room.


If you are unable to leave the building due to a physical disability:
  • Go to the nearest area where there are no hazards.
  • Use a telephone to call Geneva Police at 9-911 from any campus phone (or 911 from cell phone), or use other means to advise them of the unit's situation.
  • Be sure to give them the room number so they can send help to you.
  • If possible, signal out the window to on-site emergency responders.
  • One person may remain with you if they wish to assist you.
  1. Exit the building via the nearest safe exit route.  Walk, do not run.  Do not use elevators to exit.
  2. Move away from the building, report to the unit's designated evacuation point and meet with other persons from the unit or building.  Report any missing or trapped people to the emergency responders.
  3. Keep existing groups together.
  4. Account for Faculty, staff, students, and other research members (visiting scientist, visiting fellows, etc.) and sign in at evacuation point.
  5. Wait at evacuation point for directions
    Do not reenter the building until emergency staff gives the "all clear" signal.  The silencing of the building fire alarm system is normally used as the "all clear" signal.  In some cases the fire alarm will be silenced and staff members placed at building entrances to keep people out until the incident has been resolved.

Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities:

  • Be aware that Faculty, staff and students with "hidden" disabilities (arthritis, cardiac conditions, back problems, learning disabilities, etc.) may also need individual assistance.  Use the following list to assist both helpers and disabled persons.  Use a "buddy system" naming who is responsible for whom.

To Assist Visually Impaired Persons:

  • Announce the type of emergency
  • Offer your arm for guidance
  • Tell the person where you are going, obstacles you encounter
  • When you reach safety, ask if further help is needed


To Alert People with Hearing Limitations:
  • Turn lights on/off to gain the person's attention, or
  • Indicate directions with gestures, or
  • Write a note with evacuation directions


To Evacuate People Using Crutches, Canes, or Walkers:
  • Evacuate these individuals as injured persons
  • Assist and accompany to evacuation site if possible, or
  • Use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person, or
  • Help carry individual


To Evacuate Wheel Chair Users:
  • Non-ambulatory persons - needs and preferences vary
  • Individuals at ground floor locations may exit without help
  • Others have minimal ability to move lifting may be dangerous
  • Some non-ambulatory persons have respiratory complications
  • Remove them from smoke and vapors immediately
  • Wheelchair users with electrical respirators get priority assistance
  • Most wheelchairs are too heavy to take down stairs
  • Consult with the person to determine best carry options
  • Reunite the person with the chair as soon as it is safe to do so.


5.3 Emergency Procedures (Top)

Emergencies can include both fire and non-fire emergencies.  Fires are an "expected" emergency in all lab situations and almost all lab staff are trained on emergency steps in the event of a fire.  "Non-fire" emergencies can include:

  • Loss of electricity, heat, AC, water or other essential utilities.
  • Failure of mechanical equipment such as HVAC systems and emergency generators.
  • Flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.
  • Nearby chemical releases of hazardous materials to the environment (from the lab down the hall or a ruptured tank car one-half mile away).
  • Terrorist actions or civil unrest.
* 5.3.1 Laboratory Emergency Shutdown Procedures (Top)

Each laboratory facility should develop a non-fire emergency plan or incorporate non-fire emergencies into a master emergency response plan.  Employees must be trained on the contents of the plan and how to respond in a non-fire emergency.  Cornell EH&S has devised a set of simple steps for the shutdown of labs in non-fire emergency situations. 

These and other steps, based on the requirements of the facility, should be included in the emergency response plan of each unit or facility.  This list is by no means complete, but it gives laboratory personnel simple steps to ensure a safe lab shutdown.
  • Close fume hood sashes.
  • Be certain that the caps are on all bottles of chemicals.
  • Turn off all non-essential electrical devices.  Leave refrigerators and freezers on and make sure the doors are closed.  Check the disconnects of large LASERs, radio frequency generators, etc.  It may be necessary to check to ensure that essential equipment is plugged in to the power receptacles supplied by the emergency generator.
  • Turn off all gas cylinders at the tank valves.  Note:  If a low flow of an inert gas is being used to "blanket" a reactive compound or mixture, then the lab worker may want to leave the flow of gas on.  This should be part of a pre-approved, written, posted standard operating procedure for this material or process.
  • Check all cryogenic vacuum traps (Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, and solvent).  The evaporation of trapped materials may cause dangerous conditions.  Check all containers of cryogenic liquids to ensure that they are vented to prevent the buildup of internal pressure.
  • Check all pressure, temperature, air, or moisture sensitive materials and equipment.  This includes vacuum work, distillations, glove boxes used for airless/moistureless reactions, and all reactions in progress.  Terminate all reactions that are in progress, based on the known scope of the emergency.
  • All non-essential staff/students must leave the building.  Depending on the nature of the emergency, some staff may need to stay behind to facilitate the start-up of essential equipment once the lab is reopened.
  • It is important to remember that some equipment does not shut down automatically - such as large cryogenic magnets, sources of radioactivity, and other pieces of equipment.  Be sure to check any special operating procedures for your equipment before an emergency occurs.


5.3.2 Medical Emergency Procedures (Top)

Call 9-911 (or 911 from a cell phone) in any emergency that requires immediate medical response to preserve a life.

  • Protect the victim from further injury or harm by removing any persistent threat to the victim or by removing the victim to a safe place if needed (if it is safe to do so, your safety is always first), however do not move the victim unnecessarily.  Do not delay in obtaining trained medical assistance.
  • Notify City of Geneva Emergency Dispatcher of the location, nature and extent of the injury by calling 9-911.  Always call from a safe location.
  • Provide first aid until help arrives if you have appropriate training and equipment, and it is safe to do so.
  • Send someone outside to escort emergency responders to the appropriate location, if possible.


5.3.3 First Aid Kits (Top)

Although there are areas at Cornell where people work that could be considered hazardous, Geneva Station has no legal requirements to have first aid kits in work spaces within the campus buildings.  This reasoning is addressed by OSHA (29 CFR 1910.151) and cited in the ANSI standard (Z308.1-1998) that states if medical attention can be reached within a reasonable time, or distance, to rely on the professionals and make that part of an emergency plan.

If you choose to have a first aid kit in your work space, then there are some additional requirements to address.  There has to be the appropriate items in the kit to mediate an injury that could happen in your work area.  There needs to be a responsible person in your work space that is trained - with their contact information posted on the kit.  The kit should be maintained and complete at all times.  An Injury/Illness report should be completed when a first aid kit is used due to an injury/illness in a Cornell University laboratory.

The ANSI Standard lists the following minimum fill requirements for a first aid kit:

          • 1 - Absorbent compress, 4 x 8 in. minimum
          • 5 yard Adhesive Tape
        • 10 - Antiseptic applications, 0.14 fl.oz. each
      • 1 - Triangular bandage, 40 x 40 x 56 in. minimum
    • 16 - Adhesive Bandages, 1 x 3 inch
  • 2 - Pair medical exam gloves
  • 4 - Sterile pads, 3 x 3 in. minimum
  • 6 - Burn treatment applications, 1/32 oz. each

EHS can provide information on where to obtain the appropriate training if you choose to keep a first aid kit in your work space.  The Cornell preferred vendor, VWR, carries a laboratory first aid kit by North Safety Products (catalog number 11001-653).

5.3.4 Fire or Explosion Emergency Procedures (Top)

All fires must be reported to B&P, including those that have been extinguished.  Do not hesitate to activate the fire alarm if you discover smoke or fire.

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the fire and evacuate the room.
  • Confine the fire by closing doors as you leave the room.
  • Activate a fire alarm by pulling on an alarm box.
  • Notify Geneva Fire Department of the location and size of the fire by calling 9-911 from a campus phone, or 911 from a cell phone or off campus phone.  Always call from a safe location.
  • Evacuate the building using the Emergency Evacuation Procedure. Do not use elevators to evacuate unless directed to do so by emergency responders.
  • Notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the fire once you are outside.
  • If you have been trained and it is safe to do so, you may attempt to extinguish the fire with a portable fire extinguisher.  Attempt to extinguish only small fires and make sure you have a clear escape path.  If you have not been trained to use a fire extinguisher you must evacuate the area.

    If clothing is on fire:
  • Stop - Drop to the ground or floor and Roll to smother flames.
  • Smother flames using a fire blanket.
  • Drench with water from a safety shower or other source.
  • Seek medical attention for all burns and injuries.


5.3.5 Fire Extinguishers (Top)
  • All fire extinguishers are inspected annually and maintained by B&P.
  • Laboratory personnel should perform regular visual checks (minimum on a monthly basis) to ensure fire extinguishers present in their labs are fully charged.  For those fire extinguishers with a readout dial, labs only need to ensure the indicator arrow on the readout dial is within the green zone.  If the indicator arrow is on either side of the green zone, which indicates a problem, then call B&P at 315-787-2301 to have the fire extinguisher replaced.
  • Any fire extinguisher that has been used at all, even if it wasn't fully discharged, needs to be reported to B&P so a replacement fire extinguisher can be provided in its place.  You can also obtain training in using a fire extinguisher by contacting EH&S at 315-787-2350.  A description of the training can be found on the EH&S Safety Education Catalog.


5.3.6 Power Outage Procedures (Top)
  • Assess the extent of the outage in the unit's area.
  • Report the outage to B&P at 315-787-2301 or 315-787-2215.
  • Assist other building occupants to move to safe locations.  Loss of power to fume hoods may require the evacuation of laboratories and surrounding areas.
  • Implement the unit's power outage plan.  Evaluate the unit's work areas for hazards created by a power outage.  Secure hazardous materials.  Take actions to preserve building occupant safety and health.  Take actions to preserve research.
  • Turn off and/or unplug non-essential electrical equipment, computer equipment and appliances.  Keep refrigerators and freezers closed throughout the outage to help keep contents cold.
  • If needed, open windows (in mild weather) for additional light and ventilation (this is not always advisable in BSL2 labs).


5.4  Chemical Spill Procedures (Top)

When a chemical spill occurs, it is necessary to take prompt and appropriate action.  The type of response to a spill will depend on the quantity of the chemical spilled and the severity of the hazards associated with the chemical.  The first action to take is to alert others in your lab or work area that a spill has occurred.  Then you must determine if you can safely clean up the spill yourself.

Many chemical spills can be safely cleaned up by laboratory staff without the help of EH&S.  Only attempt to clean up incidental spills if you are trained and have the proper spill cleanup materials available.  Note:  The following advice is intended for spills that occur within a University building.  A release to the outside environment may require the University file a report with the EPA.  Calling the Station Emergency number at 315-787-2499 will initiate this determination by the Environmental Compliance Office (ECO).

5.4.1 Incidental Spills (Top)

A spill is considered incidental if the criteria below are met:


  • The spill is a small quantity of a known chemical.
  • No gases or vapors are present that require respiratory protection.

  • You have the materials and equipment needed to clean up the spill.
  • You have the necessary proper personal protective (PPE) equipment available.

  • You understand the hazards posed by the spilled chemical.
  •  You know how to clean up the spill.
  • You feel comfortable cleaning up the spill. Incidental Spill Cleanup Procedures (Top)

  1. Notify other people in the area that a spill has occurred.  Prevent others from coming in contact with the spill (i.e. walking through the spilled chemical).  The first priority is to always protect yourself and others.
  2. Put on the Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, etc. before beginning cleanup.  Do not unnecessarily expose yourself to the chemical.
  3. Stop the source of the spill if possible, and if safe to do so.
  4. Try to prevent spilled chemicals from entering waterways by building a dike around access points (sink, cup sinks, and floor drains inside and storm drains outside) with absorbent material if you can safely do so.
  5. Use the appropriate absorbent material for liquid spills (detailed in the following section).
  6. Slowly add absorbent material on and around the spill and allow the chemical to absorb.  Apply enough absorbent to completely cover the spilled liquid.
  7. Sweep up the absorbed spill from the outside towards the middle.
  8. Scoop up and deposit in a leak-proof container.
  9. For acid and base spills, transfer the absorbed materials to a sink chemical fume hood, and complete the neutralization prior to drain disposal.
  10. For absorbed hazardous chemicals, label the container and dispose of through the hazardous waste management program.
  11. If possible, mark the area of the spill on the floor with chalk.
  12. Wash the contaminated surface with soapy water.  If the spilled chemical is highly toxic, collect the rinse water for proper disposal.
  13. Report the spill to your supervisor.
  14. Restock any spill clean up supplies that you may have used from any spill kits.


5.4.2 Spill Absorbent Materials (Top)

Note:  The following materials are EH&S approved/recommended spill absorbent materials, however, they are not appropriate for every possible chemical spill when in doubt, contact EH&S at 315-787-2350 for advice.

For acid spills (except Hydrofluoric acid):

  • Sodium carbonate
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Calcium bicarbonate
  • Do not use absorbent clay for acid spills

For Hydrofluoric acid (HF) spills:

  • Use Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate to tightly bind the fluoride ion.

For liquid base spills:
  • Use Sodium bicarbonate to lower the pH sufficiently for drain disposal.

For oil spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik), vermiculite, or absorbent clay (kitty litter).

For most aqueous solutions:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik)

For most organic liquid spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik).  If the liquid is flammable, be sure to use an excess of SlikQwik.

For oxidizing liquids:

  • Use absorbent clay, vermiculite, or some other nonreactive absorbent material.  Do not use SlikQwik or paper towels.  Note: Most nitrate solutions are not sufficiently oxidizing for this requirement.

For mercury spills:

  • Do not dispose of mercury or mercury contaminated spill debris in the regular trash or down the drain.
  • There is no absorbent material available.  Physical removal processes are best for removing and collecting mercury.
  • If you need help collecting Mercury from a spill, contact EH&S spill responders by calling 315-787-2350 or 315-787-2499.  Note: While powdered sulfur will help reduce mercury vapors, the sulfur greatly complicates the spill cleanup.


5.4.3 Spill Kits (Top)

While commercially available spill kits are available from a number of safety supply vendors, laboratory personnel can assemble their own spill kits to properly clean up chemicals specific to their laboratory.  Whether commercially purchased or made in-house, EH&S strongly encourages all laboratories to obtain a spill kit for their use.  Colleges and departments should give serious consideration to distributing basic spill kits to all laboratories within their units.

A useful spill kit can be assembled using a 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket containing the following absorbent materials.  Stock only the absorbents appropriate for your space.  Each container of absorbent must be labeled as to what it contains and what type of spills it can be used for.

Spill kit absorbent material:

  • 1-5 lbs of ground corn cobs (SlikQwik) - for most aqueous and organic liquid spills.
  • 1-5 lbs of absorbent clay (kitty litter) - for oils or oxidizing liquids.
  • 1-5 lbs of Sodium bicarbonate - for liquid acid and base spills.
  • 1-5 lbs of Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate - for HF spills.

Equipment in the spill kit could include:
  • Wisk broom and dust pan (available at home improvement stores)
  • Sponge
  • pH paper
  • 1 gallon and 5 gallon bags - for collection of spill cleanup material
  • Small and large Ziploc bags - for collection of spill cleanup material or to enclose leaking bottles/containers.
  • Safety goggles
  • Thick and thin Nitrile gloves
  • Hazardous waste labels

The spill kit should be clearly labeled as "SPILL KIT", with a list of the contents posted on or in the kit.  This list should include information about restocking the kit after use and where to obtain restocking materials.

Laboratory personnel must also be properly trained on:
  • How to determine if they can or should clean up the spill, or if they should call 9-911 or EH&S at 315-787-2350 or 315-787-2499.
  • Where the spill kit will be kept within the laboratory.
  • What items are in the kit and where replacement items can be obtained.
  • How to use the items in the kit properly.
  • How to clean up the different types of chemical spills.
  • How to dispose of spill cleanup material.

Environmental Health and Safety can provide assistance in assembling spill kits for laboratories and offers a training class on "Cleaning Up Small Spills".  More information can be obtained by contacting Environmental Health and Safety at 315-787-2350.

5.4.4 Major Spills (Top)

A major spill is any chemical spill for which the researcher determines they need outside assistance to safely clean up a spill.  EH&S is activated to assist with spill cleanup whenever Ontario County HAZMAT Team are notified of a spill by calling 9-911 from a campus phone or 911 from a cell phone or off campus phone. Major Spill Cleanup Procedures (Top)

When a spill occurs that you are not capable of handling:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill and evacuate the room.
  • If an explosion hazard is present, do not unplug, or turn electrical equipment on or off - doing so can result in a spark and ignition source.
  • Confine the hazard by closing doors as you leave the room.
  • Use eyewash or safety showers as needed to rinse spilled chemicals off people or yourself.
  • Evacuate any nearby rooms that may be affected.  If the hazard will affect the entire building, then evacuate the entire building by pulling the fire alarm.
  • Notify City of Geneva Emergency Dispatcher by 9-911. Always call from a safe location.

Be prepared to provide City of Geneva Emergency Dispatcher with the following information:
  • Where the spill occurred (building and room number).
  • If there are there any injuries and if medical attention is needed.
  • The identity of the spilled material(s) - be prepared to spell out the chemical names.
  • The approximate amount of material spilled.
  • How the spill occurred (if you know).
  • Any immediate actions you took.
  • Who first observed the spill and the approximate time it occurred.
  • Where you will meet emergency responders, or provide a call back number (if available).
  • Once outside, notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the spill.  Isolate contaminated persons and protect yourself and others from chemical exposure.


5.5 Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

All laboratories using hazardous chemicals, particularly corrosive chemicals, must have access to an eyewash and/or an emergency shower as per the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151 Medical Services and First Aid.  The ANSI Standard Z358.1-2004 - Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment provides additional guidance by stating that emergency eyewash and/or emergency showers must be readily accessible, free of obstructions and within 10 seconds from the hazard.  The ANSI standard also outlines specific requirements related to flow requirements, use of tempered water, inspection and testing frequencies, and training of laboratory personnel in the proper use of this important piece of emergency equipment.

Due to the flow requirements outlined in the ANSI standard, hand held bottles do not qualify as approved eyewashes.

Plumbed eyewash units and emergency showers should ideally have a tempering valve in place to prevent temperature extremes to the eyes or body.  If you have questions about where eyewashes and emergency showers should be located, or which models meet ANSI standards, then contact EH&S at 315-787-2350.  Additional information on eyewashes and emergency showers for lab renovations and construction can be found in the PDC Design Standard 15430 Safety Showers and Eyewashes.

5.5.1 Testing and Inspection of Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

The ANSI Standard provides guidance by stating that plumbed emergency eyewash and safety showers should be activated weekly to verify proper operation and inspected annually.  Regular activation (weekly flushing) ensures the units are operating properly, helps to keep the units free of clutter, and helps prevent the growth of bacteria within the plumbing lines, which can cause eye infections.  It is recommended to allow the water to run for at least 3 minutes.  EH&S strongly encourages laboratories to post an "Eyewash Testing Sheet" near the eyewash to keep track and document that weekly activation is occurring.  Check with your Building Coordinator for the location of the emergency shower test kit and instructions.

It is the responsibility of laboratory personnel to activate (flush) units on a regular basis.

Laboratories are responsible for ensuring that access to eyewashes and emergency showers are kept free of clutter and ensuring the eyewash nozzle dust covers are kept in place.  If nozzle dust covers are not kept on the eyewash nozzles, dust or other particles can clog the nozzles and result in poor or no water flow.  This could result in dust or other particles being forced into the eyes when the eyewash is used.

Always report any malfunctioning eyewashes and emergency showers to B&P immediately.  If either the emergency shower or eyewash is not working properly, then let other people in the lab know by hanging up a Do Not Use sign on the unit.  Additional information on repairing malfunctioning eyewashes and emergency showers can be found in the Emergency Shower and Eyewash Repairs Procedures.

EH&S performs free annual inspections of eyewashes and emergency showers.  EH&S will test units for compliance with ANSI Z358.1-2004 including:

  • Test the water flow for proper quantity, spray pattern, and good water quality.
  • Ensure the unit is the proper height from the floor.
  • Ensure the unit is not obstructed.
  • Ensure the unit has a tempering valve (if the unit does not have a tempering valve, this will be identified as a recommended repair in the inspection report).
  • Ensure valves are working properly.
  • Ensure signs are posted.
  • Ensure the unit is free of corrosion.


5.5.2 Installation of New Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

As with installation of other safety equipment, all new eyewashes and emergency showers must be installed in consultation with B&P and EH&S.  All new installations or eyewashes and emergency showers must comply with PDC Design Standard 15430 Safety Showers and Eyewashes.  Before EH&S will commission any new emergency shower or eyewash, the project manager or designated representative must complete an Emergency Shower and Eyewash Commissioning form and submit it to the EH&S.

In addition to ensuring proper installation of your new eyewash or emergency shower, by consulting with EH&S on new installations, your new eyewash or emergency shower will be added to our inventory to be included in our free annual inspection and testing program.

5.5.3 Maintenance Procedures for Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

The following documents provide information and maintenance procedures for working on fume hoods:


5.5.4 Using Emergency Eyewash and Showers (Top)

Always preplan your experiments and what you will do in case of an emergency.  Always identify the locations of the nearest emergency shower and eyewash before working with hazardous chemicals.

In the event of an emergency (chemical spill or splash) where an eyewash or emergency shower is needed, please adhere to the following procedures:


  1. If you get a chemical in your eyes, yell for help if someone else is in the lab.
  2. Immediately go to the nearest eyewash and push the activation handle all the way on.
  3. Put your eyes or other exposed area in the stream of water and begin flushing.
  4. Open your eyelids with you fingers and roll your eyeballs around to get maximum irrigation of the eyes.
  5. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives.  The importance of flushing the eyes first for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated!  For accidents involving Hydrofluoric acid, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions.
  6. If you are alone, call 9-911 after you have finished flushing your eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Seek medical attention.
  8. Complete an Injury/IIlness Report.

If someone else in the lab needs to use an eyewash, assist them to the eyewash, activate the eyewash for them, and help them get started flushing their eyes using the procedures above and then call 9-911.  After calling 9-911, go back to assist the person using the eyewash and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

Emergency Showers
  1. If you get chemical contamination on your skin resulting from an accident, yell for help if someone else is in the lab.
  2. Immediately go to the nearest emergency shower and pull the activation handle.
  3. Once under the stream of water, begin removing your clothing to wash off all chemicals.
  4. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives.  The importance of flushing for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated!  If you spill Hydrofluoric acid on yourself, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions.
  5. If you are alone, call 9-911 after you have finished flushing for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Seek medical attention.
  7. Complete an Injury/Illness Report.


If someone else in the lab needs to use an emergency shower (and it is safe for you to do so), assist them to the emergency shower, activate the shower for them, and help them get started flushing using the procedures above and then call 9-911.  After calling 9-911, go back to assist the person using the shower and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

NOTE:  Although an emergency is no time for modesty, if a person is too modest and reluctant to use the emergency shower, you can assist them by using a lab coat or other piece of clothing or barrier to help ease their mind while they undress under the shower.  If you are assisting someone else, you should wear gloves to avoid contaminating yourself.  When using an emergency shower, do not be concerned about the damage from flooding.  The important thing to remember is to keep flushing for 15 minutes.  If there is a large quantity of chemical spilled or washed off, please contact EH&S at 315-787-2350 to see if the rinsate needs to be collected as hazardous waste.

Note:  Be cautious of the slippery surface.

5.6 Injury/Illness Reporting (Top)

All accidents and injuries, no matter how minor, are required to be reported to University officials through the injury/illness reporting system.  The supervisor of an injured employee or a designated individual within the department must complete all sections of this form within 24 hours after the injury is first reported.  The online Injury/Illness reporting system can be accessed through the EH&S webpage Cornell University Injury/Illness Reporting.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator and Laboratory Supervisor to ensure all injuries are reported to University officials through the use of the Cornell University injury/illness reporting system.

5.7  Medical Consultations (Top)

When a chemical exposure occurs, medical consultations and medical examinations will be made available to laboratory workers who work with hazardous chemicals as required.  All work related medical examinations and consultations will be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and will be provided at no cost to the employee without loss of pay, and at a reasonable time, through the Gannett Health Center and/or the Geneva General Hospital.

The opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow up examinations, will be provided to employees who work with hazardous chemicals under the following circumstances:

  • Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed in the laboratory.
  • Where airborne exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level (or in the absence of an action level, the Permissible Exposure Limit) for an OSHA regulated substance for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements.  Action level means the airborne concentration of a specific chemical, identified by OSHA, and calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA).
  • Whenever an event such as a spill, leak, explosion or other occurrence takes place and results in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure.  Upon such an event, the affected employee shall be provided an opportunity for a medical consultation.  The consultation shall be for the purpose of determining the need for a medical examination.

More information on action levels and Permissible Exposure Limits can be found on the OSHA Health and Safety topics page - Permissible Exposure Limits.

5.7.1 Information Provided to the Physician (Top)

The physician shall be provided with the following information:

  • The identity of the hazardous chemical(s) to which the employee may have been exposed.  Such information can be found in the Material Safety Data Sheet for the chemical(s).
  • A description of the conditions under which the exposure occurred including quantitative exposure data, if available.
  •  A description of the signs and symptoms of exposure that the employee is experiencing, if any.


5.7.2 The Physician's Written Opinion (Top)

The physician's written opinion for the consultation or examination shall include:

  • The results of the medical examination and any associated tests.
  • Any medical condition that may be revealed in the course of the examination, which may place the employee at increased risk as a result of exposure to a hazardous workplace.
  • A statement that the employee has been informed by the physician of the results of the consultation or medical examination and any medical condition that may require further examination or treatment.
  • The written opinion shall not reveal specific findings of diagnoses unrelated to the occupational exposure.
  • All records of medical consultations, examinations, tests, or written opinions shall be maintained at Gannett Health Center in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020 - Access to employee exposure and medical records.  The Gannett Health Center (607-255-5155) is located at 10 Central Avenue.  Exposure monitoring records of contaminate levels in laboratories will be maintained at EH&S office at G-18 Food Research Laboratory.  For more information, contact EH&S at 315-787-2350.