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3 Emergency Planning 3.A INTRODUCTION 33 3.B PREPLANNING 33 3.B.1 Vulnerability Assessment 33 3.B.1.1 Fire 34 3.B.1.2 Flood 34 3.B.1.3 Severe Weather 34 3.B.1.4 Seismic Activity 35 3.B.1.5 Extensive Absences Due to Illness 35 3.B.1.6 Hazardous Material Spill or Release 35 3.B.1.7 High-Profile Visitors 35 3.B.1.8 Political or Controversial Researchers or Research 35 3.B.1.9 Intentional Acts of Violence or Theft 35 3.B.1.10 Loss of Laboratory Materials or Equipment 36 3.B.1.11 Loss of Data or Computer Systems 36 3.B.1.12 Loss of Mission-Critical Equipment 36 3.B.1.13 Loss of High-Value or Difficult-to-Replace Equipment 36 3.B.2 What Every Laboratory Should Know and Have 36 3.B.2.1 Survival Kit 36 3.B.2.2 Training 37 3.C LEADERSHIP AND PRIORITIES 37 3.C.1 Decision Makers, with Succession 37 3.C.2 Laboratory Priorities 37 3.C.3 Essential Personnel 37 3.D COMMUNICATION DURING AN EMERGENCY 38 3.D.1 Contact List 38 3.D.2 Communication Plan 38 3.D.2.1 Telephone 38 3.D.2.2 Text Messages 38 3.D.2.3 E-Mail 38 3.D.2.4 Internet and Blogs 38 3.D.2.5 Emergency Contacts 39 3.D.2.6 Media and Community Relations 39 3.D.3 Assembly Point 39 3.E EVACUATIONS 39 3.E.1 Shutdown Procedures 39 3.E.1.1 Processes Requiring Special Shutdown Procedures 39 3.E.1.2 Experiments Running Unattended 39 3.E.2 Assembly Points and Evacuation Routes 39 3.F SHELTER IN PLACE 39 31
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32 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY 3.G LOSS OF POWER 40 3.G.1 Short-Term Power Loss 40 3.G.1.1 Potential Effects 40 3.G.1.2 Laboratory Procedures 40 3.G.2 Long-Term Power Loss 40 3.G.2.1 Security Issues 40 3.G.2.2 Environmental and Storage Conditions 40 3.G.2.3 Discontinuation of Experiments 40 3.G.3 Preplanning 40 3.G.3.1 Generator Power 41 3.G.3.2 Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) 41 3.G.3.3 Dry Ice 41 3.G.3.4 Other 41 3.H INSTITUTIONAL OR BUILDING CLOSURE 41 3.H.1 Short-Term Closure 41 3.H.2 Long-Term Closure 42 3.H.3 Alternative Laboratory Facilities 42 3.I EMERGENCY AFFECTING THE COMMUNITY 42 3.I.1 Disruption of Deliveries of Goods and Services 42 3.I.2 Laboratory Staff Shortage 42 3.J FIRE OR LOSS OF LABORATORY 42 3.J.1 Records for Replacement of Laboratory Equipment 42 3.J.2 Alternative Laboratories to Continue Operations 43 3.J.2.1 Preplanning and Prevention 43 3.K DRILLS AND EXERCISES 43 3.L OUTSIDE RESPONDERS AND RESOURCES 43
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33 EMERGENCY PLANNING 3.A INTRODUCTION 3.B PREPLANNING Although most laboratory personnel are prepared to Every institution, department, and individual labo- handle incidental spills or minor chemical exposures, ratory should have an emergency preparedness plan. many other types of emergencies can affect a laboratory, The level of detail of the plan will vary depending on ranging from power outages to floods or intentional the function of the group and institutional planning malicious acts. Some may have long-term consequences efforts already in place. and may severely affect the continuity of laboratory Planning proceeds in several steps. First, determine operations. Although these issues must be considered what types of incidents are most likely to occur to de- on an organizational level, laboratory personnel should termine the type and magnitude of planning required. be trained in how to respond to large-scale emergen- This will require input from multiple levels of the or- cies. Laboratory security can play a role in reducing the ganization, and discussions with laboratory personnel likelihood of some emergencies and assisting in prepa- should be integral to the process. Next, decide who ration and response for others. (For more information the decision makers and stakeholders are and how to about laboratory security, see Chapter 10.) handle communications. Then, do the actual plan for There are four major phases to managing an the types of emergencies identified in the first step. Fi- emergency: mitigation, preparedness, response, and nally, train staff in the procedures outlined in the plan. recovery. Emergency planning is a dynamic process. As per- sonnel, operations, and events change, plans need The mitigation phase includes efforts to minimize updating and modification. the likelihood that an incident will occur and to limit It is not possible to account for every emergency. the effects of an incident that does occur. Mitigation When handling an emergency, do not use the plan as efforts may be procedural, such as safe storage of ma- a recipe; use it as a list of ingredients and guidance. terials, or physical, such as a sprinkler system. The preparedness phase is the process of developing 3.B.1 Vulnerability Assessment plans for managing an emergency and taking action to ensure that the laboratory is ready to handle an To determine the type and level of emergency plan- emergency. This phase might include ensuring that ning needed, laboratory personnel need to perform a adequate supplies are available, training personnel, vulnerability assessment. What kinds of emergencies and preparing a communication plan. are most likely? What is the possible effect on labora- The response phase involves efforts to manage tory operations? the emergency as it occurs and may include outside For every potential emergency, the group should responders as well as laboratory staff. The response consider the history of occurrence in their laboratory is more effective and efficient when those involved in or institution and at institutions with similar circum- it understand their roles, have the training to perform stances. The group should evaluate how the emergency their duties, and have the supplies they need on hand. would affect the laboratory, for example, damage to The recovery phase encompasses the actions taken critical equipment, staffing limitations, loss of data, to restore the laboratory and affected areas to a point and the severity of the resulting conditions on labora- where the functions of the laboratory can be carried tory operations. Making a list of available emergency out safely. Usually, these actions restore the laboratory response equipment and the location of that equipment to its previous condition; however, this stage provides assists in this task. an opportunity for improvement. When planning, especially when determining where to spend time and resources, use impact/occurrence The four phases are interconnected. Effective mitiga- mapping (Figure 3.1). Where time and/or resources tion efforts reduce the impact of the emergency and are limited, focus attention on events that would have ease the response and recovery stages. Lessons learned higher impact and higher likelihood, and less attention during an emergency may lead to further mitigation on issues that are unlikely to occur or would have little and preparedness efforts during the recovery phase. impact. Good planning in the preparedness stage makes the The types of incidents and emergencies to consider response and recovery less complicated. However, a vary depending on the type of laboratory, geographical plan is not a substitute for thinking. It offers guidance location, and other factors that are unique to an institu- and helps prepare for emergencies. It is not intended tion or laboratory. The following sections cover most to replace analyzing the situation and formulating the common issues faced in laboratories. best response based on the resources and situation at hand.
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34 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY Impact/Likelihood ofoccurrence mapping. FIGURE 3.1 higher floors. Safety showers and eyewash stations that 3.B.1.1 Fire are not properly plumbed or do not have floor drains A fire could occur in any laboratory but is more likely nearby may also be a source of flooding. Consider the where chemicals such as flammable liquids, oxidizers, likelihood of flooding and its impact. Also consider and pyrophoric compounds are stored and used. Con- whether the laboratory contains equipment that is very sider the amount of combustible materials in the labo- sensitive to water damage. If flooding occurs, could it ratory, potential ignition sources, and any other factors affect the space below the flood? If so, is the floor sealed that increase the potential for fire. Some equipment is appropriately? Are there overhead pipes? vulnerable even to minor smoke damage, such as laser optics, and plates used for semiconductor work. Assess the impact of a fire. Does the laboratory con- 3.B.1.3 Severe Weather tain mission-critical equipment that could be damaged Storms and flooding can disrupt power, cause dam- by fire or smoke? Are there smoke detectors in place? age to buildings, and result in impassable roads. In Are there detectors for hazardous vapors and gas? Is severe cases, a local state of emergency in response to there a sprinkler system or other automatic extinguish- weather could close roads to all but essential travel. In ing system? Are the correct type and number of fire areas that are prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, con- extinguishers present and do people know how to use sideration should be given to the adequate protection them? If possible, fire extinguisher training should of critical hazardous operations. For example, in some involve practice putting out fires. areas, hydrogen cylinders and liquid nitrogen tanks are located outside the building. It may be sensible in some areas to locate lab space away from outside windows. 3.B.1.2 Flood If there are travel restrictions, would anyone be able Floods could be due to rain, rising levels of bodies to reach the laboratory? If so, is there a means of com- of water, water pipe breaks, or accidental or deliber- munication to inform the individual(s) able to travel ate acts. Some areas are more prone to floods than that they need to do so? Are there operations that run others. Laboratories on the basement or ground level unattended? What possible problems could arise if no are more likely to be flooded in a storm than those on one is able to come to the laboratory for a day, a few
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35 EMERGENCY PLANNING days, or longer? Have rally points been identified and large stores of chemicals in the laboratory or building? shelter-in-place protocols distributed in areas where What are the most hazardous materials and what are tornadoes occur? the consequences of a release of those materials? Does the laboratory have sufficient spill control materials to handle any spill? 3.B.1.4 Seismic Activity Some spills may be too large or too hazardous for Laboratories in areas where seismic activity is com- laboratory personnel to clean up safely. What plans are mon should take special precautions to secure and in place in the event assistance is needed? restrain equipment and chemicals within a laboratory. Consider the likelihood of an environmental release Consideration should be given to the damage that to the ground, air, or sewer. What procedures are in could be caused by falling equipment. An earthquake place to report such an incident and remediate it? can render a building unusable for days or months or Are there unusually hazardous gases or materials cause it to be condemned. Note that the earthquake that should be continuously monitored to detect a spill may cause secondary hazards such as gas leaks, fires, or leak? If such monitoring is in place, does it sound an chemical spills, electrical hazards, broken glass, re- alarm or send a signal? Where does that signal go (e.g., duced structural integrity of buildings, and flooding to security personnel, local only)? Are staff fully trained from broken water pipes. in how to respond and who to contact? Is all freestanding equipment that may shift or fall during an earthquake secured appropriately? Are 3.B.1.7 High-Profile Visitors plumbed connections to that equipment, including gas and water lines, flexible to allow for movement? Visiting dignitaries and other individuals with some Are items stored on open shelves appropriately orga- level of fame or notoriety can attract negative atten- nized (e.g., heavier items below, appropriate lips on tion from protesters, paparazzi, and others who want the shelving, restraints where necessary)? If multiple to make their opinion known. In some cases, acts of containers fall and are damaged during a quake, is civil disobedience may occur that impede access to there potential for incompatible chemicals to come in the building and interrupt operations. Consider the contact? Are all compressed gas cylinders secured in security risks and how your institution handles such accordance with the guidance in Chapter 5, section matters. 5.E.6? Also consider the likelihood of other sensitive equipment, such as computers and analytical equip- 3.B.1.8 Political or Controversial Researchers or ment, falling to the ground. If possible, secure those Research items to the desk or benchtop. How will continuity of operations be maintained in the event that the labora- Certain types of research and outspoken research- tory is inaccessible for a significant period of time? ers with controversial views may engender protests, hate mail, and other concerns. There is the possibility that protestors may engage in civil disobedience in 3.B.1.5 Extensive Absences Due to Illness response. The vulnerabilities may vary from nuisance Although pandemic planning is something that all issues to more serious matters. Consider the level of institutions should complete, other circumstances, security in and around the lab, mail handling, and such as foodborne illnesses or communicable diseases other factors. Ensure procedures are in place to deal could result in a large percentage of laboratory per- with these situations effectively, such as screening of sonnel unable to come to the laboratory for a short or incoming mail with irradiation procedures if deemed extended period. necessary. Some experts have estimated that in the event of pan- demic influenza, an institution or laboratory may expe- 3.B.1.9 Intentional Acts of Violence or Theft rience a 50% reduction in workforce for a period of 4 to 8 weeks. How might this affect laboratory operations? Planning for and preventing intentional acts (includ- Are there experiments that cannot be suspended? Have ing theft, sabotage, or terrorism) are difficult, especially laboratory personnel been cross-trained to be able to fill if they are conducted by individuals within the labora- in for a person who is absent? tory or organization. The scale of the event will deter- mine the extent of the disruption for a laboratory. If the act only affects one experiment or material, disruption 3.B.1.6 Hazardous Material Spill or Release will likely be minimal. However, acts of violence or Incidental spills may happen at any time. Most are theft that target a laboratory or building could cause easily managed by laboratory personnel. Are there significant disruption of laboratory operations. High-
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36 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY profile, destructive acts of terrorism can also have an • Resources that are available in the event there are effect on laboratory operations, even if they occur in problems with a computer system; and another locale. In such cases, lockdowns of buildings, • Backup or other procedures that can be used to instructions to shelter in place or to evacuate, and continue operations in the event that a system is simple distraction of laboratory personnel from their not available. work can affect the laboratory environment. Any activ- ity that causes significant damage to a building, such 3.B.1.12 Loss of Mission-Critical Equipment as an explosion, can have an effect similar to that of seismic activity. Some equipment may be so mission-critical that Consider the history of such events at the institution, its loss will shut down operations until it is replaced. at similar institutions, and in the geographical area. Ensure that this equipment has all the necessary protec- Is there a known cause for concern? Are laboratory tion (e.g., security, fire protection) and plan what to do personnel prepared and trained in case of a shelter-in- if it is not available. place emergency? Are all emergency contact numbers posted in a high-visibility area? Has a rally or gather 3.B.1.13 Loss of High-Value or Difficult-to-Replace point been designated in case of evacuation of the Equipment laboratory? Some equipment is impossible or very difficult to re- place. When it is lost, the laboratory may not be able to 3.B.1.10 Loss of Laboratory Materials or complete this function for an extended period of time. Equipment Very expensive equipment may take longer to process Equipment, chemicals, samples, or other materials in through insurance or may not be able to be replaced the laboratory could be lost due to theft, sabotage, fire, immediately. flood, or other events. Think about the materials and equipment in the laboratory and consider the impact 3.B.2 What Every Laboratory Should of their loss. Know and Have Planning for loss of such equipment is prudent. Keep purchasing and other records that would be helpful for 3.B.2.1 Survival Kit an insurance claim. If equipment can be replaced, make note of where to find that equipment and the specifica- Every laboratory and all laboratory personnel should tions needed. For custom-made equipment, keep the consider the possibility of having to stay at work for an plans that show how to rebuild it. extended time or under unusual conditions, such as a Even with good planning, several days or longer power loss. Consider keeping the following on hand: may elapse before equipment is in place or usable. For the laboratory: Make note of other laboratories or institutions with similar equipment or functions. Make arrangements, • emergency contact information, if possible, to use such facilities as a backup, if needed. • flashlight, • radio and batteries, • first-aid kit, and 3.B.1.11 Loss of Data or Computer Systems • safety glasses and gloves. Because many laboratories store data in a digital for- mat and rely on computerized systems, loss of critical For individuals: data or systems poses serious problems. Every laboratory and all laboratory personnel should • change of clothing and shoes, have a backup plan for their digital data. A plan may • medications, include the following items: • contact lens solution, • nonperishable snacks, • Data that should be stored off-site or in special • water, and storage and how to back this up using USB drives, • blanket, jacket, or fleece. external hard drives, or other external storage device; This list is not complete. Organizations such as the • Whether networked computers are backed up Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Homeland Se- automatically on a schedule; curity have comprehensive Web pages that describe
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37 EMERGENCY PLANNING materials to have on hand in case of an emergency that succession does not always follow the organizational requires personnel to shelter in place. chart. Ensure that the people on that list know their designation and understand their responsibilities. 3.B.2.2 Training 3.C.2 Laboratory Priorities In addition to laboratory safety issues, laboratory personnel should be familiar with what to do in an In the event of a reduction of staff, a limited amount emergency. Topics may include of freezer space for sample storage, or other circum- stances that place limitations on laboratory operations, • evacuation procedures; experiments may need to be suspended or laboratory • emergency shutdown procedures—equipment materials allowed to deteriorate. Consider laboratory shutdown and materials that should be stored priorities ahead of time, to reduce the decision-making safely; burden during an emergency. Examples of priorities • communications during an emergency—what to include securing pathogenic microbe libraries; secur- expect, where to call or look for information; ing toxic, flammable, or unstable compounds; and • how and when to use a fire extinguisher; securing compounds that could be precursors to • security issues; pharmaceuticals. • protocol for absences due to travel restrictions or Review the operations and materials in the labora- illness; tory and formulate a hierarchy. Although each labora- • safe practices for power outage; tory has unique needs, the following is one example: • shelter in place; • handling suspicious mail or phone calls; • Priority 1: Protect human life. • laboratory-specific protocols relating to emer- • Priority 2: Protect research animals: gency planning and response; Grant-funded research animals, • handling violent behavior in the workplace; Thesis-related research animals, • first-aid and CPR training, including automated Other research animals. external defibrillator training if available. • Priority 3: Protect property and the environment: Mission-critical property, Periodic drills to assist in training and evaluation of High-value equipment, the emergency plan are recommended as part of the Difficult to replace materials. training program. • Priority 4: Maintain integrity of research: Grant-funded research, Thesis-related research, 3.C LEADERSHIP AND PRIORITIES Other research. In an emergency situation, even with good planning, a number of factors tend to create a chaotic environ- 3.C.3 Essential Personnel ment. Emotions may run high, uncertainties may ex- ist regarding how long the conditions will last, and In an emergency, there may be a facility closure and/ the general routine of the laboratory environment is or travel bans in place that would restrict personnel in disrupted. their ability to report to work. If the laboratory must re- Decisions need to be made, priorities set, and plans main at least partially operational and personnel must put in motion. Having a clear succession of leadership report to work, it is important that these individuals be and priorities ahead of time can help provide clarity recognized as “essential personnel.” There are human to the situation. resources and payroll issues that may factor into this designation, as well as institutional policies. In an emergency, the duties and responsibilities of 3.C.1 Decision Makers, with Succession the individuals reporting to work may be different Determine who will provide leadership for the in- than their responsibilities under normal conditions. stitution, department, group, or laboratory. Make a list Ensure that personnel understand and accept these of individuals authorized to make decisions, including responsibilities. financial commitments. Assume that there will be ab- When there is a travel ban due to a state of emer- sences and include a succession. Keep in mind that in gency, those who must travel by car will need docu- an emergency situation, the most practical leadership mentation from the institution stating that they are
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38 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY essential personnel. These individuals should keep of the plan and should know what to expect and what such documentation in their vehicle to provide to a law is expected of them. enforcement officer. It remains the decision of that law When an emergency affects a large population, tele- enforcement officer whether to allow the travel. phone systems may quickly become overloaded, and local or institutional police, security, or public safety officials may be bombarded with calls. Instruct labora- 3.D COMMUNICATION DURING tory personnel to limit their use of phones during such AN EMERGENCY times and use text messaging, e-mail, and the internet Communication is key during an unexpected inci- as primary means of communication. dent. Depending on the circumstances, some regular means of communication may be compromised: tele- 3.D.2.1 Telephone phones may not work; a power loss may affect access to computers. The telephone is often the most direct way to contact Among the most important elements of emergency people. Some institutions have implemented mass no- preparedness is the communications plan. Labora- tification systems that send voice messages to several tory personnel should know how to find information, phone numbers simultaneously. For a department how to contact people, and what to expect in terms of or laboratory, a telephone chain may be an effective communications. means of sharing information. In an emergency that affects a large population, telephone systems may quickly become overloaded. 3.D.1 Contact List Other circumstances may render telephones unusable. Institutions should have extended contact informa- Do not rely only on telephones for communication of tion, including home, office, and cell phone numbers, important instructions or information. for key personnel, including individuals familiar with Hotlines with recorded messages are also helpful. the operations of the laboratories. In an emergency, For a laboratory, the number could be used for this pur- particularly when outside emergency responders, such pose. In an emergency, the person in charge could leave as police and ambulance attendants, are on-site, being a message with instructions on the main telephone that able to speak with someone who can describe what is is available to anyone who calls. behind the laboratory doors can sometimes mean the difference between a reasonably appropriate response 3.D.2.2 Text Messages to the situation at hand and an overresponse that could tie up resources for an extended period. Text messaging utilizes cellular phone service but Within the laboratories, laboratory managers, princi- can be more reliable. Even when cellular service is too pal investigators, or others assigned leadership respon- weak or overloaded for calls, text messaging is often sibility for emergencies should have up-to-date contact available. Text messages can be sent via cell phone or lists for all laboratory personnel. Such lists should be through e-mail. Check with the individual’s service accessible from both the laboratory and from home. provider to determine the domain name to send text Consider collecting information regarding an in- messages via e-mail. For example, for a Verizon Wire- dividual’s ability to get to the laboratory during an less customer with the phone number 123-456-7890, emergency. Know who is within walking distance, who sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org would de- has access to a vehicle that can travel in all types of liver the message as a text message. Most text message weather, or who has commitments that would preclude services have a limit of 120 characters per message. them from coming to the laboratory. To aid emergency responders, many laboratories 3.D.2.3 E-Mail also post contact information on the laboratory door, as well as information about the hazards within the E-mail can be a reliable way of sharing information. laboratory. An example emergency response poster can In the event that the institution’s computer system is be found on the CD that accompanies this book. affected, it is prudent to have an alternative e-mail ad- dress for each person. Consider preparing a Listserve or e-mail list for use during an emergency. 3.D.2 Communication Plan There are numerous ways to communicate dur- 3.D.2.4 Internet and Blogs ing an emergency. Each institution, department, and laboratory group should have a communication plan Posting updates on the institution or laboratory Web that details which means of communication may be site is an easy way to reach multiple people. Instruct in- implemented. Laboratory personnel should be aware dividuals to visit the site in the event of an emergency.
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39 EMERGENCY PLANNING If using the laboratory Web site for this purpose is ment were not shut down prior to evacuation and not practical, consider using a blog. Many internet may pose a risk to health, the environment, or prop- providers and search engine sites offer free blog ser- erty, inform emergency responders of the situation. vices. Blogs allow the users to post information easily Emergency responders may escort a person into the without the use of a Web-page editor. laboratory to shut down the process, or they may ask for advice on how to do so themselves. 3.D.2.5 Emergency Contacts 3.E.1.1 Processes Requiring Special Shutdown Having the name and contact information for at least Procedures one friend or family member of laboratory personnel is prudent. The information would be useful if a person Make a list of processes that need to be shut down cannot be reached or in an emergency involving the prior to evacuation. Post the procedures in a conspicu- laboratory person. ous place and ensure that all laboratory personnel are aware of them. Posting a list at the exits may be helpful as a reminder to laboratory personnel as they leave. 3.D.2.6 Media and Community Relations If an incident has caught the attention of the media, 3.E.1.2 Experiments Running Unattended whether local, national, or even a school or facility newspaper, ensure that the institution’s spokesperson Note the hazards of experiments left unattended for is involved in any conversations with reporters. Media an extended period. For routine procedures that fit into inquiries should go through the person or group that this category, establish procedures for safely terminat- is used to working with the media, because it is very ing the procedure prior to evacuation. easy for facts or issues to be misconstrued or presented in an inflammatory manner. All involved should be in- 3.E.2 Assembly Points and Evacuation structed to forward calls and interviewers to the media Routes relations group. When an incident command system has been insti- Each building, section of a building, or group should tuted, a press officer will be appointed. All inquiries have a designated assembly point to which individu- and statements go through this individual or group. als evacuate. At the assembly point, the emergency coordinator will account for individuals who should have evacuated, to advise emergency responders on 3.D.3 Assembly Point the probability of individuals left in the building. Consider establishing an assembly point for labora- Main and alternative evacuation routes should be tory personnel. In an emergency, essential personnel posted. Supervisors should ensure that all labora- would be expected to report to that assembly point tory personnel are familiar with the safest way to whether or not they have received specific instructions. evacuate the building and where to assemble. In case of This plan is especially helpful when communications evacuation, sign-in/sign-out boards or other check-in are limited. methods can be used as an aid to determine whether employees are in the building. 3.E EVACUATIONS 3.F SHELTER IN PLACE Fires, spills, and other emergencies may require evacuation of the building or the laboratory. All labo- For certain emergency situations, rather than evacu- ratory personnel should be aware of the evacuation ation, emergency responders may advise that people procedures for the building and laboratory. shelter in place, meaning that they remain inside the building. Such circumstances may include hazard- ous material releases outdoors; weather emergencies, 3.E.1 Shutdown Procedures such as hurricanes or tornadoes, or suspects wielding Some laboratories may have operations, materials, weapons. or equipment that could pose a hazard if simply aban- When directed to shelter in place, take the following doned and left unattended for an extended period. actions: If a building is evacuated for an emergency, hours may elapse before personnel are allowed back inside. • Go or stay inside the building. Consider the hazards in the laboratory and establish • Do not use elevators. procedures to follow during an evacuation. • Close and lock doors and windows. In the event that processes, experiments, or equip-
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40 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY • If possible, go to a location within the building aged if turned on abruptly once power comes that has no exterior doors or windows. back online. If no one is in the laboratory when • As possible, monitor the situation via a radio, the the power is restored, equipment that does turn internet, or a telephone. on will be running unattended. • Discontinue operations requiring local ventila- Ensure that the laboratory is prepared by having a tion, such as laboratory chemical hoods. The radio and flashlight on hand and provide an overview building ventilation system may not be on emer- of shelter-in-place procedures to laboratory personnel gency power. as part of their orientation. • Close laboratory chemical hood sashes. 3.G LOSS OF POWER 3.G.2 Long-Term Power Loss Most laboratory buildings experience occasional Damaged power distribution systems and other brief periods of power loss. Such instances may be conditions may result in power loss that lasts hours minor disturbances or could damage equipment or or days. This has implications for security, safety, and ruin experimentation. Longer term power outages experimental work that go well beyond those for a may cause significant disruption and loss. It is prudent short-term power loss. to consider the effects of long-term and short-term power loss and implement plans to minimize negative 3.G.2.1 Security Issues outcomes. For laboratories with specialized security systems, such as card readers or electronic locks, know if the 3.G.1 Short-Term Power Loss locks are locked or unlocked in the event of power failure. Develop a backup plan for laboratory security 3.G.1.1 Potential Effects in the absence of such systems. Consider what can happen in the event of short-term power loss. If the outcome may be more than just an 3.G.2.2 Environmental and Storage Conditions inconvenience, implement steps to reduce the impact. For example, if temperature is regulated by a heating The most common problem during a power outage mantle and loss of heat for even a few minutes could is storage of materials that require specialized environ- create an unacceptable variation, the result may be loss mental conditions, such as refrigeration and humidity of that particular experimental run. controls. When developing a plan for handling a short-term For example, sub-80 ˚C freezers, may hold their power loss, consideration should be given as to what temperature for a few hours after a power loss but will “state” a piece of equipment goes to during a loss of eventually warm. This warming may lead to loss of power or a resumption of power. Equipment should samples or, for materials that become unstable when enter a fail-safe state and it should be tested for this warmed, to more hazardous conditions, including fire, state by purposely shutting off power to it and then overpressurization, or release. reenergizing the circuit. Any interlocks (e.g., against high temperatures on heating mantels) should be re- 3.G.2.3 Discontinuation of Experiments checked after a loss of power. Some equipment must be restarted manually after a shutdown, resulting in Experiments that rely on power may need to be dis- longer term power loss even when power is restored. continued and disassembled. Leaving the materials in Uninterruptable power supplies and automatic genera- place may not be prudent. Someone should be assigned tors should be considered for freezers and refrigerators responsibility for walking through the laboratory to that are used to store unstable compounds. identify problems and ensure that materials are safely stored. 3.G.1.2 Laboratory Procedures 3.G.3 Preplanning If laboratory personnel are present when power is lost, and power is not restored immediately, consider There are many options for minimizing the effects of the following actions: a power loss, including alternative energy sources and, when that is not practical, prioritizing experimental • Turn off equipment, particularly if leaving before needs, consolidating, and using dry ice. power is restored. Some equipment can be dam-
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41 EMERGENCY PLANNING 3.G.3.1 Generator Power 3.G.3.4 Other The laboratory building may be connected to a gen- As with any crisis, cooperation among laboratory erator. If so, know what will continue to run during a groups and individuals results in the best outcome. power loss. In some buildings, for example, the gen- Creative problem solving is something at which most erator may only run emergency lighting and security researchers are skilled and it should never be over- systems. In others, the ventilation system, all or in part, looked in an emergency. may be connected to the generator. Some buildings may have specially marked outlets that are connected 3.H INSTITUTIONAL OR to the generator. BUILDING CLOSURE One potentially negative aspect of a generator is that there is usually a slight delay, up to several seconds, Weather emergencies, fire, or other circumstances from the time the power is lost to the time that the may require closure of an institution or building. Labo- power load is taken up by the generator. Equipment ratories may be inaccessible or special permission may that is sensitive to a minor power disruption may be be required to enter or work in the laboratory. Whereas affected and a generator may not be the right solution. interruption in research or teaching may be a nuisance, Know what will continue to operate during a power other conditions may pose a hazard or a risk of signifi- loss. Determine how long the laboratory can rely on cant loss of research. the generator. If there is equipment that would benefit Ensure that personnel expected to report to work from connection to the generator, inquire about the even when there is a closure are aware of their respon- possibility of such a connection being made. sibilities and have been designated as essential person- nel. (See section 3.C.3 for more information.) 3.G.3.2 Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) 3.H.1 Short-Term Closure When generator power is not available or if equip- ment is sensitive to the slight power delay, UPS systems For laboratory closures lasting a day or less, the main may be the right choice for continued power. UPS concerns include experiments running unattended and systems are composed of large rechargeable batteries security. Whether the closure is planned or unexpected, that immediately provide emergency power when the it is important to consider how it will affect laboratory main supply is interrupted. operations, and how critical operations can be main- UPS systems come in a variety of types and sizes. tained. See Box 3.1 for a checklist of things to consider The three basic types are offline, line interactive, and while planning for a closure. online. The differences among the three are related to the level and type of surge protection, with the offline providing the least amount of surge protection and the online providing the most sophisticated protection. Size varies based on power needs. When purchasing BOX 3.1 an UPS for equipment other than a computer, consult Continuity of Laboratory with the equipment manufacturer to help choose the Operations Checklist right solution. All UPS systems require some degree of mainte- L ist of high-priority operations nance. The battery needs to be replaced at an interval L ist of personnel who can perform these operations specified by the manufacturer. Batteries may be expen- C ommunication plan sive and should be figured into the cost of the system. D ata backup plan L eadership succession K ey dependencies within the organization (e.g., es- 3.G.3.3 Dry Ice sential goods and services that other departments or Dry ice may be helpful in maintaining temperatures groups provide) and alternatives in refrigerators or freezers. Because demand for dry ice ey dependencies outside the organization, with K increases significantly during a power loss, have a list alternative vendors of alternative vendors in case the regular vendors are ist of essential equipment, purchase records, and L unable to provide supplies. information on how to replace it permanently or To preserve resources, researchers should prioritize temporarily their experimental materials needing refrigeration and estoration plan and priorities R combine them as much as possible.
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42 PRUDENT PRACTICES IN THE LABORATORY 3.I.1 Disruption of Deliveries of Goods If the closure is unexpected, experiments may be left and Services running unattended. Depending on the experimental procedure, problems may occur with temperature Many laboratories rely on just-in-time delivery of regulation, integrity of containers, evaporation of solu- chemicals and supplies because stockpiling chemicals tions, concentration of solutions, and numerous other poses its own risks and should be avoided. Excessive possibilities. storage of other supplies may result in an increased fire risk from combustible materials. As part of the preplanning process, consider the 3.H.2 Long-Term Closure following: A fire or other event that causes serious building damage, police activity, and communicable disease • Prepare a list of alternative vendors and service outbreaks are just a few examples of incidents that providers in the event that the primary vendor is could result in a building or institution closing for unavailable. Add them to the vendor list for cen- several days, weeks, or months. It may be necessary to tralized purchasing or have a contract on hand if place the laboratory into a state of inactivity or hiberna- necessary. tion during an emergency that causes serious staffing • Ensure that primary vendors have up-to-date disruptions. Plans for making the transition from active business continuity plans. to suspended laboratory operations should be a part of • E nsure that the institution or laboratory is a the organization’s emergency response policy. priority for your primary vendors and service Consider the impact of laboratory closure on re- providers. search, services provided to outside entities, and other groups. Communicate disruptions in services to those 3.I.2 Laboratory Staff Shortage that rely on them. Staff may not be able to report to the laboratory. For continuity of laboratory operations, ensure that person- 3.H.3 Alternative Laboratory Facilities nel are cross-trained to be able to fill in for a person who If the laboratory will be inaccessible, it may be is absent. Have a succession plan that clarifies who is possible to share another laboratory at or outside the responsible when supervisors are not available. institution or to set up a temporary laboratory in an- other space. Preplanning for such an event reduces the 3.J FIRE OR LOSS OF LABORATORY amount of downtime. Make a list of what is essential for an alternative A fire can be devastating. Even when fire does not facility: damage the laboratory directly, it may result in dis- ruption of services or limited access to the laboratory, • equipment and materials needed to perform pri- or damage may be caused by smoke, water, or fire- ority tasks, extinguishing materials. • space, First, assess the vulnerabilities within the laboratory; • e nvironmental controls (e.g., temperature, then take action to prevent fire. Maintaining safe chem- humidity), ical storage, minimizing combustible materials, and • security requirements, and controlling ignition sources are just a few examples of • ventilation requirements. fire prevention. Next, ensure that there is an adequate level of detection and, where possible, extinguishing systems, and take additional steps to limit the impact 3.I EMERGENCY AFFECTING of a fire. Finally, consider how the laboratory would THE COMMUNITY manage after a fire and implement plans for facilitating When an emergency affects only the institution, continuity of operations. (See Vignette 3.1.) building, or laboratory, community resources, emer- gency responders, and external services are generally 3.J.1 Records for Replacement of available for assistance or for business continuity. Laboratory Equipment However, when an emergency affects the local com- munity or a larger area, resuming normal operations Keep records for both existing equipment and re- may take longer. placement equipment. Having purchasing records A laboratory may be indirectly affected by a com- readily available can make a difference in how long munity emergency when goods and services are it takes for insurance claims to be processed. Because unavailable.
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43 EMERGENCY PLANNING • f ire-safe storage of data and mission-critical VIGNETTE 3.1 samples, and Preplanning reduces • good chemical storage practices. the impact of a fire on continuity of operations 3.K DRILLS AND EXERCISES A DNA sequencing/synthesis laboratory that We all hope we never have to implement emergency provided services to several other laboratories plans. However, because the plans are rarely imple- at the institution experienced a fire that caused a mented, it is even more important to have drills and/ total loss of all equipment due to smoke damage. or exercises that allow laboratory personnel to simulate The source of the fire was a fault in the power sup- their response. ply of a computer. The laboratory did not have a Test alarm systems regularly, at least once a year. sprinkler system, which would have reduced the Prudent practice coordinates the testing of the system magnitude of the damage. with a drill that exercises the appropriate response. However, the laboratory had planned for such Fire drills are a classic example. By sounding the alarm an occurrence and the immediate availability and expecting everyone to evacuate, one can uncover of purchasing records facilitated the insurance problems with the planning. claim. The laboratory manager had backup plans Drills and exercises may be full scale, where indi- and had a temporary but fully functional labora- viduals are expected to carry out the responsibilities tory operating in 3 days. It took more than a year and procedures; tabletop exercises, where individuals to renovate the burned laboratory but the services discuss their response but do not physically respond; were disrupted for less than 1 week. or a combination of both. 3.L OUTSIDE RESPONDERS AND RESOURCES Some emergencies require response by police, fire, ambulance, or other outside responders. Prudent older equipment may not be replaceable, knowing practice establishes good communication with these what alternatives are available and where to get them responders before they are expected to respond to an may speed up resumption of laboratory activities. emergency. You can facilitate this by • inviting responders to the facility for a tour of the 3.J.2 Alternative Laboratories to Continue areas of most concern; Operations • providing information about areas of higher risk It may be necessary to use existing laboratories or for a fire, spill, or other emergency; furnish a temporary laboratory in order to continue • providing maps and other tools to help them operations. (See section 3.H.3 for more information.) navigate the facility and familiarize themselves with the location of laboratory buildings or special facilities; 3.J.2.1 Preplanning and Prevention • informing emergency responders and local hospi- To help prevent a fire or limit the effect of a fire, tals of the use of chemicals that present unusual ensure that the laboratory has the following in place: hazards; and • having chemical inventories accessible remotely • appropriate types and number of fire extinguish- through a password-protected system or file, ers and individuals trained to use them, which allows emergency responders to have an • sprinkler systems or other automatic extinguish- idea of what could be in the laboratory or building ing systems for sensitive areas or equipment, before they enter.
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