As research staff at IUPUI likely know, the Laboratory Safety team conducts annual Lab Safety audits to assist labs to maintain compliance with federal, state, local, and university requirements. While the Lab Safety team is always open to questions and willing to help labs prepare for the audits, labs can do a lot to prepare on their own. One good way to get ready for an audit is to conduct a “Spring Cleaning” of the lab. The article in the Spring 2018 of Lab Notes helps to detail this process.
Another way to prepare for Lab Safety Audits is to conduct a self-audit. The LCS-1 form in Appendix A of the Chemical Hygiene Plan provides an example of a Lab Safety Audit checklist (Note: this checklist was created for all IU campuses, and not all items are applicable to an IUPUI Lab Safety Audit). This audit can be completed all at once, but labs can use the list to customize their own Lab Safety self-audits. For example, the lab could choose five or so items to check each month or week so that over a course of time, they have completed the entire audit list. If the lab would choose to do so, they could even use a buddy system and have another lab conduct the self-audit (and they could return the favor). Sometimes it is helpful to have someone who does not work in the lab day in and day out to take a look around to see if they can find anything that would be unsafe or not compliant with applicable regulations (see the Winter 2018 edition of Lab Notes for an article on the dangers of getting complacent in your workspace).
Finally, going through the self-audit list throughout the year will help labs maintain safety and compliance throughout the year, not just during audit time. This is especially important because as a public institution, regulatory agencies can ask to see any lab without announcement or notice. So, we should all work to maintain safety and compliance all year round, not just before and during a Lab Safety audit.
In conclusion, while the first goal of a Lab Safety self-audit is to help keep everyone working in the lab safe and compliant with regulations, they are a great way to help a lab prepare for the annual Lab Safety audit conducted by IUPUI EHS personnel as well as to keep labs safe and compliant throughout the year. The Chemical Hygiene Plan, in Appendix A, has a great example to help you with your self-audits. I would encourage labs to be proactive and to conduct Spring Cleanings and regular self-audits to help keep everyone safe and compliant. Keep learning and stay safe!