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Safety Topics


LBNL Work Authorizations and Permits

All work at Berkeley Lab (LBNL) must be authorized or permitted.  The most basic authorization that is required for all employees, affiliates and students is the Job Hazard Analysis, or JHA.  There are other authorizations required in addition to the JHA depending on the work you do, and there are a handful of activities that require a permit.

An overview of work activities that require formal authorization or permits beyond the JHA can be found in Appendix B, of PUB-3000, Chapter 6 –

For your convenience, links to the applicable databases or resources are provided below.  For assistance, contact Shraddha Ravani.

Work Authorizations

Activity Hazard Documents (AHDs) -
AHDs are required for most high risk work activities.  The Life Sciences Division has very few AHDs.
From this web link, PIs and Work Leads can:

Biological Use Authorizations (BUAs, BURs, BUNs)
From this web link, PIs and Work Leads can:

An authorization is required for most work with biological material.  Contact Vivian Xian with EH&S to create a new authorization.

Job Hazard Analysis (JHAs) -
JHAs and Work Groups can be created and edited from this link.

Radiation Work Authorizations (RWAs) -
All persons working with radioactive materials must be on an authorization.  There is no database for these authorizations.  To create a new authorization, add personnel, change locations, etc., contact the Radiation Protection Group directly.

Subcontractor Job Hazard Analysis (SJHAs) -
A SJHA is required for all “hands-on” work performed by subcontractors/vendors.  From this link, you can:

X-Ray Use Authorizations (XAs) -
All persons using an X-Ray must be on an authorization.  There is no database for X-Ray Authorizations.  To create a new X-Ray authorization, contact the Radiation Protection Group.  To add or delete personnel, contact the X-Ray System Supervisor. 

Work Permits

Electrical Work Permit -
In very few cases, we may need an energized electrical work permit.  Contact Peter Marietta for any work that might involve worker exposure to live, energized sources above 50 volts.

Hot Work Permit -
Hot work permits are required for hot work like welding (not for hand held soldering or Bunsen burner use).  Contact Peter Marietta for more information.

Lockout Tagout Permit (LOTO) -
In very few cases, we may need a LOTO permit.  This is only required when a person is servicing a piece of equipment where the inadvertent start up of the equipment may cause injury to persons working on the equipment.  Contact Peter Marietta  if a LOTO permit is needed.

(Posted 3/4/15)

Ergonomics of Microscope Use

Many researchers in the Life Sciences Division have a regular need to inspect tissues and cells, and other biological materials under a microscope as part of their work.  Unfortunately, microscope work often involves awkward and sustained postures as a person leans forward and bends their head down to peer into the microscope eyepieces. Studies have demonstrated that over 80% of workers using microscopes more than four hours a day report discomfort ranging from eye strain to neck and low back pain.  We are not immune; Life Sciences Division researchers have suffered ergonomic injuries in the past due to microscope use. 

There are actions you can take to reduce your risk of injury.  These include:

For a few more recommendations as well as some “before” and “after” images click here.  Also, ergonomic evaluations are available to all employees.  Simply send an e-mail to  (Posted 3/21/11)

Student Safety Handbook and Orientation Checklist

All persons new to Berkeley Lab are required to complete Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) training. This training however does not directly address many of the safety issues unique to a particular lab, such as where to evacuate in an emergency or what chemical hazards are present. To bridge the gap between EH&S training and lab-specific safety issues, the Life Sciences Division has developed a new student safety handbook and a safety orientation checklist.

The student safety handbook was designed with students in mind and emphasizes some fundamental lab safety issues. It is a useful resource for any new Life Sciences Division employee to help identify hazards inside the labs.

The safety orientation checklist is designed for supervisors, work leads or area safety leads to review with new employees when they first enter the lab. The checklist focuses on basic life safety issues (such as eye wash locations, spill kit locations, etc.) and on hazards present in a particular lab. (Posted 9/28/09)

SPOT Awards

Employee participation is a vital component in any successful safety program. To encourage participation, each quarter the Life Sciences Division recognizes one or two employees with a $250 SPOT Award for Safety. These awards are given to employees who are proactively engaged in safety, who are routinely demonstrating their commitment to working safely, or who submit their safety concerns and ideas for improvements to the Division. In addition, there is an annual $1,000 SPOT award for the lab demonstrating the strongest commitment to safety. Nominations can be submitted to Shraddha Ravani

Past winners include:

(Posted 9/18/09)

Work by Outside Service Vendors

On-site set-up, maintenance or repair work on Life Sciences Division equipment by outside service techs requires the preparation of a special Job Hazard Analysis prior to the start of the work.  The Subcontractor Job Hazard Analysis (sJHA) form must be sent to the contractor by the requestor, to be filled out and returned prior to their scheduled visit. The sJHA is then sent to the Divisional Safety Coordinator (DSC) for approval.  A visit between the requestor, service tech and DSC takes place on the day of the visit before work is authorized.

Life Sciences Division staff should contact the DSC as soon as a service call is needed to insure that this process is promptly and correctly carried out. This is especially important for work that exposes the repair worker to energized circuits, radiation, or lasers.  Safety requirements in this work can require additional documentation.

Further information, and a copy of the sJHA form, can be obtained on-line at
(Posted 12/19/08)

Shipment of Packages Containing Dry Ice

If you need to ship a package containing dry ice, the package must be shipped by the Shipping Department in Building 69 to ensure proper shipment preparation.  Do NOT go directly through FedEx.

Place items to be shipped in a container with the dry ice.  Shipping will complete the final preparation of the package.  You may transport your package of research material with dry ice to Building 69 or leave it at a designated Berkeley Lab pickup location, as long as the research material you are shipping (exclusive of the dry ice) is non-hazardous material. (Posted 12/19/08)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is required in all chemical and biological laboratories. To enter the lab, one must be wearing (at a minimum) safety glasses and closed-toed shoes. Performing work requires the use of a lab coat and appropriate gloves.  Areas requiring PPE are designated with “Safety Glasses and PPE Required” green tape on the floor. Check the Entrance Placards at lab doors to determine specific hazards and appropriate PPE for each laboratory. (Posted 12/19/08)

Safety Glasses

Safety glasses with side shields are a requirement inside the laboratory. Prescription safety glasses are available through Health Services (x 6266), but non-prescription safety glasses need to be provided by your particular laboratory. It is important to remember that when it comes to safety glasses, one size does not fit all. It seems like most standard safety glasses are “big”, but it is possible to find safety glasses designed for smaller faces. Some of these include:

Safety Glasses
(Posted 9/18/09)