Health & Safety Office

The Texas Hazard Communication Standard is based upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard. It covers workers engaged in teaching or research in educational institutions. The standard addresses hazard determination in the workplace; container labeling; access to material safety data sheets; employee training and written compliance.

All employees, including student workers, are covered by the standard. Students enrolled in classes or working without compensation in laboratories must have access to material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and safety training during the course of their lab preparation. Check the reference shelf outside of Heldenfels 310 for a set of Material Safety Data Sheets. In addition the presentation computer in each laboratory has saved web links to online Material Safety Data Sheets.

Employees must be trained on the chemical hazards they may encounter in the workplace. At a minimum, training should include interpreting labels and material safety data sheets; acute and chronic health effects of exposure; hazardous chemical locations; handling procedures; personal protective equipment; first aid treatment; and clean-up and disposal guidelines.

Aurelio Cadena

profile photo of aurelio cadena

Environmental Health and Safety Specialist II
406 BSBW
phone: 862-2051
fax: 979-845-2891

Emergency Phone Numbers

Emergency Medical Help
(On Campus) 9-911

Poison Control Center
(1-800-764-7661 , 1-800-POISON1)


The Department of Biology is committed to ensuring the safety of all students and employees participating in undergraduate teaching laboratories.  Please notify your laboratory instructor immediately if you observe what you consider to be unsafe practices in this laboratory.  You may also communicate concerns to the faculty member responsible for this course or to the Department of Biology administrative office in 100 Butler Hall.

Concerns regarding laboratory safety can also be sent to the Department of Biology Safety Coordinator.

A sign with this information shall be posted in all laboratories.

Report a Safety Concern

If your concern is an emergency, please call 911 (9-911 from a campus phone).

The Biology Health and Safety Office is located in 102 BSBW (Biological Sciences Building West) and can be reached at 979-845-4725 during normal business hours.


All spills should be cleaned up promptly and efficiently.  The volume and toxicity of the hazardous substance used in the lab require preplanning to respond safely.  Spill kits with absorbents, protective equipment, and clean-up supplies are available to clean up minor spills.  A minor spill is one that the laboratory personnel are capable of handling safely without the assistance of safety and emergency personnel.  All other chemical spills are considered major.

Minor Chemical Spill

  1. Alert people in immediate area of spill.
  2. Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves, and lab coat.
  3. Avoid breathing vapors from spill.
  4. Confine spill to small area. Dike liquids by surrounding area involved with absorbent material.
  5. Refer to appropriate MSDS.
  6. Use absorbent material to neutralize and absorb liquid.
  7. Collect residue with clean-up supplies, place in container, and dispose of as chemical waste.
  8. Clean spill area with water.

Note:  Many small liquid spills (<100mL) can be absorbed with paper towels, then disposing of paper towels as waste.  Most solid spills can be brushed up, placed in a container, and disposed of as chemical waste.

Major Chemical Spill

  1. Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  2. Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate, to minimize exposure to others.
  3. If spilled material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources such as Bunsen burners and gas jets.
  4. Call TAMU Environmental Health and Safety Department (845-2132) or the Biology Health and Safety Office (845-4725) for assistance.
  5. Confine area. Close doors to affected area.
  6. Have person knowledgeable of incident and laboratory provide information to emergency personnel as appropriate.

Note: Do not take unnecessary risk with chemical spills.  Call for assistance whenever the spill involves the following:

  • Large volume of spilled material
  • Very Hazardous material
  • Very hazardous Conditions (e.g., fire, explosion, toxicity, etc.)
  • Strong odor
  • Personnel injury or exposure


Biological spills outside biological safety cabinets will generate aerosols that can be dispersed in the air throughout the laboratory.  Appropriate protective equipment is particularly important in decontaminating spills involving BSL2 containment.  This equipment includes safety goggles, disposable gloves, and long-sleeved lab coat.  This will prevent contact with contaminated surfaces and protect eyes and mucous membranes from exposure to splattered materials.

BSL1 Lab Spill

  1. Wear disposable gloves.
  2. Soak paper towels in disinfectant and place over spill area.
  3. Place towels in plastic bag for disposal.
  4. Clean area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.

BSL2 Lab Spill

  1. Alert people in the immediate are of spill.
  2. Put on protective equipment.
  3. Cover spill with paper towels or other absorbent materials.
  4. Carefully pour a 1:10 bleach solution around edges of spill and then into the spill. Avoid splashing.
  5. Allow a 20-minute contact period.
  6. Use paper towels to wipe up the spill, working from the edges into the center.
  7. Clean spill area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.
  8. Place towels in a plastic bag and decontaminate in an autoclave.


Spreading of radiation beyond the spill area can easily occur by the movement of personnel involved in the spill or cleanup effort.  Prevent spread by confining movement of personnel until they have been monitored and found free of contamination.  A minor radiation spill is one that laboratory personnel is capable of handling safely without the assistance of safety and emergency personnel.  All other radiation spills are considered major.
Minor Radiation Spill

  1. Alert people in the immediate area of spill.
  2. Notify TAMU Radiation Safety Office (845-1361).
  3. Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, disposable gloves, shoe covers, and long-sleeved lab coat.
  4. Place absorbent paper towels over liquid spill. Place towels dampened with water over spills of solid materials.
  5. Using forceps, place towels in plastic bag. Dispose in radiation waste container.
  6. Monitor area, hands, and shoes for contamination with an appropriate survey meter or
  7. method.  Repeat cleanup until contamination is no longer detected.

Major Radiation Spill

  1. Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  2. Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  3. Have potentially contaminated personnel stay in one area until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  4. Call TAMU Radiation Safety Office (845-1361).
  5. Close doors and prevent entrance into affected area.
  6. Have person knowledgeable of incident and laboratory provide information to emergency personnel as appropriate.


Work Related Injuries / Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In the event of a work related injury or illness, Texas A&M University has Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage to protect you. Please notify the Biology Department Health and Safety Technician within 24 hours of the injury or illness in 406 BSBW. We will need to complete a Workers’ Compensation First Report of Injury. For more information see this Notice To Employees. If you seek medical attention, notify medical personnel that you have a work-related injury.

First Aid Guidelines

Lab emergencies may include thermal and corrosive burns, vapor inhalation, cuts, and poisoning. A prepared employee should know first aid guidelines and the location of first aid kits in your work area.

Additional first aid supplies may be obtained in room 406 BSBW.

If someone’s clothing ignites, make the victim STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! Cover the flames with a jacket or fire blanket and “pat” or “roll” the person to smother the fire.


Do not clean burns or break blisters. Do not remove any clothing that is adhered to skin. Do not apply grease, ointment, or medication to a severe burn. Do not use cotton or material with loose fibers to cover burns.

Burn Treatment:

First degree burns – redness or discoloration of skin, mild swelling and pain.

  1. Apply cool, wet cloths or immerse in water. Do not use ice.
  2. Blot gently; apply a dry sterile pad if necessary.
  3. Minor burns may be treated in the lab, however if severe symptoms persist, get medical attention.

Second degree burns – deep burn, redness of skin, blisters, considerable pain and swelling, skin surface appears wet.

  1. See treatment for first degree burns.
  2. May require medical treatment depending on severity and location.
  3. Be alert for signs of shock and infection.

Third degree burns – deep tissue destruction with a white or charred appearance.

  1. Call 9-911 for professional medical help immediately.
  2. Be alert for signs of shock.
  3. See treatment for first degree burns.

Chemical Burn Treatment

  1. Remove contaminated clothing.
  2. Flush burned area of skin with cool water for at least 5 minutes. Chemical burns may cause severe burns to the skin, so immediately rinsing the skin is important.
  3. Treat as you would major or minor burn.
  4. If eye has been burned: Immediately flood face, inside of eyelid and eye with cool running water for at least 15 minutes. Turn head so water does not drain into uninjured eye. Hold eyelid open to completely rinse the eyes.
  5. If eye has burned by a dry chemical, lift any loose particles of the eye with corner of a sterile pad or clean cloth.
  6. Cover both eyes with dry sterile pads, clean cloths, or eye pads.
  7. Consult professional medical help.

It is important to treat a chemical burn immediately. Prepare for a chemical contact emergency by locating and knowing how to operate emergency eyewash units and showers. In most cases an eyewash unit or sink will provide adequate flushing of affected areas.

***Before initiating any first aid to control bleeding, be sure to wear disposable gloves to avoid contact of the victim’s blood with your skin. For minor cuts, provide first aid kit materials and let the person provide self-care. Otherwise:

Bleeding Treatment

  1. Remove glass or debris. Wash the cut with soap and water. Apply antiseptic, cover with a sterile bandage and get medical aid.
  2. Control severe bleeding by applying direct pressure on the wound with a sterile pad or clean cloth. Elevate injury.
  3. If bleeding is controlled by direct pressure, bandage firmly to protect wound. Check to be sure that bandage is not too tight.
  4. If bleeding is not controlled by use of direct pressure, apply a tourniquet only as a last resort.
  5. Call 9-911 for medical help immediately.
  6. Wash all skin surfaces that contact blood or body fluids with soap and water.
  7. Place disposable items that have contacted blood or body fluids in a biohazard bag and label it as infectious waste for proper disposal. Wash surfaces and materials that contact blood with a 10% bleach solution.

***Call (9-911) or Poison Control Center (1-800-764-7661 1-800-POISON1) immediately, before administering first aid.

Poison Treatment

  1. DO NOT give any other first aid if victim is unconscious or is having convulsions. Move the victim to fresh air and begin rescue breathing techniques or CPR if necessary. If victim is convulsing, protect from further injury; loosen tight clothing if possible.
  2. If professional help cannot be reached immediately:
  3. DO NOT induce vomiting is poison is unknown, or is a corrosive substance (i.e. acid, bleach, etc.) or a petroleum product.
  4. Induce vomiting only if poison is known and is not a corrosive substance or petroleum product. To induce vomiting: Give one ounce of syrup of ipecac followed by four or five glasses of water. If poison is known, refer to MSDS or chemical label to determine if vomiting should be induced.
  5. Take poison container or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) with victim to the hospital.

Get medical aid immediately if toxic, corrosive, or petroleum products are ingested. Follow treatment procedures.

Toxins are rapidly spread by the circulatory and lymphatic systems once they enter via hair follicles, sweat glands, or open wounds. Flush exposed areas with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Wear protective disposable gloves when working with hazardous chemicals.

Inhaled toxins are rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream. The chemical absorption rate increases with respiration rate. Some poisons give sensory warning (pain or odor) that allow immediate action to be taken. However, significant damage may occur before the danger is detected and since olfactory fatigue may prevent detection, sensory warning should NOT be used as the primary defense for inhalation hazards.

  1. Move the victim to fresh air and provide respiratory aid if needed. Get medical help.
  2. Ventilate the room.

Accidental injection can occur when trying to recap a hypodermic needle. Do not recap needles.



Labels are 3 x 5 in.

Waste Containers

Appliance Labels

Don’t see the sign you need? Try using the FREE Safety Sign Builder – courtesy of St Claire, Inc. This website provides you with a great tool to create custom safety signs – all you need to do is register. You can choose from a catalog of sign headers, a catalog of safety pictograms, and add customized messages.


The Department of Biology is committed to the safety of all student and employees participating in undergraduate teaching laboratories. To ensure that a safe environment is maintained in our teaching laboratories, it is expected that laboratories will adhere to the guidelines.

Please notify your laboratory instructor immediately if you observe what you consider to be unsafe practices in this laboratory. You may also communicate concerns to the faculty member responsible for this course or to the Department of Biology administrative office in 100 Butler Hall. Concerns regarding laboratory safety can also be sent anonymously to the Department of Biology Safety Coordinator in BSBW 102.

Laboratory Safety Training can be found here: Lab Safety Training, and a Safety Guidelines are outlined here: Safety Guidelines.


The TAMU Chemical Waste information can be found on the website, and the Chemical Waste Guide is also a great resource for best practice in chemical waste disposal.

Radiological Sfaety and disposal information can be found through TAMU EHS, at

Any further questions or concerns, please contact the Safety Officer Aurelio Cadena at