Planning for Emergencies


There are two categories of fires that may occur in the lab: minor or incipient fires and those that are larger and may involve the structure of the facility. In both of these situations it is most appropriate to call 9-1-1. GVSU faculty and staff, who have received proper training, may (voluntarily) respond to incipient fires by using the nearest fire extinguisher. For safety information regarding flammable materials, click here.

For minor or incipient fires;

  •  you may extinguish the flame by smothering or using a fire extinguisher

For larger fires;

  • Pull the fire alarm, if available, or dial 9-1-1.
  • Evacuate to a safe location.
  • Communicate with Public Safety or other responders as to the nature of the incident.

Fire extinguishers have been placed in each lab and research space using hazardous materials at GVSU. The fire extinguisher in the laboratory should be the appropriate classification type for the expected fire.


Minor spills are small quantities of material that you understand the hazards of and are comfortable that you have the training and ability and to clean up appropriately. If you are unsure of the hazard of a spill or proper response procedures contact your Lab Supervisor, CHO or Public Safety. All minor spills should be cleaned up immediately as follows:

  1. Notify everyone in the immediate area that you have a spill
  2. Assess the hazard and your ability to clean up properly.
  3. Locate the spill kit and identify appropriate protective equipment. At a minimum always use gloves and protective eyewear.
  4. Use an appropriate absorbent to confine or contain the spill. Strong acids or bases may need to use a neutralizing absorbent. Do not use paper towels.
  5. Properly dispose of the absorbent and clean the spilled area.
    1. For non-reactive spills: scoop into a plastic disposal bag and sweep solid materials into a dustpan and place in a sealed container. Dispose of waste as normal trash as long as substance is non-volatile and non-hazardous waste.
    2. For reactive or potentially reactive spills: scoop into an appropriate container. Wet mop the dry substances to avoid spreading hazardous dust, provided it is non-water reactive. If spilled chemical is a volatile solvent, transfer disposal bag to a hood. Follow the GVSU policy for disposal.

Potentially Hazardous Spills may be larger in quantity or spills of highly hazardous materials including materials of low LD50, carcinogens or reproductive toxins, reactive, corrosive or flammable liquids, or metals, and materials if unknown toxicity. Such spills should be cleaned up as follows:

  1. Notify everyone in the immediate area of the potentially hazardous spill.
  2. Vacate the area, close the door behind you, and move to a safe location.
  3. If the situation may cause airborne contaminants or risk of fire or explosion, pull fire alarm to evacuate the building.
  4. Call 9-1-1 and provide details of the situation.
  5. Have someone knowledgeable of the situation meet Public Safety/EMS upon their arrival at the building.

Evacuation of the building is mandatory if chemicals or contaminants can enter the air circulation system of the building. GVSU labs are exhausted to the outside. Hallways and offices are not.

Spill Kits - Ready access to a spill kit is required in laboratories that work with hazardous materials and employees should be trained on its use. The basic supplies that should be available in a spill kit should be determined by area lab supervisors or faculty based on the hazards of materials used or stored in that area. Contact the CHO or your area Lab supervisor if you want assistance in selecting appropriate spill supplies and PPE.

Medical Emergency

For medical emergencies dial 911. For employees seeking non-emergency medical treatment, under current GVSU policies and procedures, affected employees must seek care from an approved facility (list maintained by Human Resources). Injured students seeking non-emergency medical attention are to make their own decisions regarding their medical care. The supervisor or instructor must ensure the appropriate injury report forms are completed. If you have any questions regarding injury and illness procedures, contact your supervisor or instructor.

Minor First Aid: In most situations emergency medical care is available within minutes of GVSU labs.

  1. Do not dispense or administer any medications, including aspirin.
  2. Do not put any ointments or creams on wounds or burns. Use cool water.
  3. Review the MSDS for specific first aid information for a given chemical.

First aid kits should be readily accessible to all laboratory personnel and should be inspected frequently to ensure that the kit is sufficiently stocked. The kit need only to provide equipment for minor cuts and scrapes. Injuries requiring greater medical attention should be examined by Public Safety.

Eye Splash:

  1. Remove victim from spill area only if an attempt to rescue does not present a danger to the rescuers.
  2. Lead the victim(s) immediately to an emergency eyewash facility.
  3. Assist the victim as needed. The goal is to flush the eyes and upper portion of the face.
  4. Flush for at least 15 minutes or longer if pain persists.
  5. Contact the CHO and/or emergency response personnel and inform them of the incident and possible chemical(s) involved.

Eyewash Facilities are required in all laboratories where injurious or corrosive chemicals are used or stored and are subject to the same proximity requirements as safety showers. MIOSHA has adopted the following ANSI standards for location, design, and maintenance of emergency eyewash facilities:

  1. Optimally, those affected must have both hands free to hold open the eye to ensure an effective wash behind the eyelids. This means providing eyewash facilities that are operated by a quick release system and simultaneously drench both eyes.
  2. Eyewash facilities at GVSU will provide the minimum of a 15-minute water supply at no less than 0.4 gallons per minute.
  3. Eyewash facilities should be checked and flushed at a minimum between semesters (3 times per year). A log documenting flushes is recommended.

Chemical Body Splash:

  1. Remove victim(s) from the spill area to fresh air only if an attempt to rescue victim(s) does not present a danger to the rescuers.
  2. Don appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves, eye protection, etc.)
  3. Remove contaminated clothing while under an emergency shower.
  4. Flood affected area of the body with cold water for at least 15 minutes or longer if pain persists.
  5. Wash skin with mild soap and water – do not use neutralizing chemicals, creams, lotions or salves.
  6. Contact the CHO and/or emergency response personnel and inform them of the incident and possible chemical(s) involved.

Whenever emergency shower or eye wash stations are used inform Public Safety.

Safety Showers are required to provide an immediate water drench of an affected person. MIOSHA has adopted the following ANSI standards for location, design, and maintenance of safety showers:

  1. Showers are located within 25 feet of areas where chemicals with a pH of < 2.0 or > 12.5 are used.
  2. Showers are located within 100 feet of areas where chemicals with a pH between 2 and 4 or 9 and 12.5 are used.
  3. Shower location is to be clearly marked, well lighted, and free of obstacles, closed doors, or turns.
  4. Safety showers are checked and flushed periodically.
  5. GVSU Safety showers will be checked and flushed annually.

Safety Equipment Checklist

Page last modified March 11, 2015