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Be Ready for the Inspector

Learn how to make your lab inspection-ready.

UC San Diego facilities that use, store, and handle hazardous materials are regularly inspected with the goal of protecting human health and the environment.

Learn what to expect from inspectors and how to make your lab inspection-ready:

EH&S Research Assistance Program (RAP) lab audits

EH&S Research Assistance Program specialists audit most campus research facilities for safety and compliance twice per year; low hazard locations are visited annually. Certain labs and other high hazard areas are also audited by additional EH&S divisions.

Fire safety inspections

The Campus Fire Marshal is responsible for conducting fire inspections of all occupied campus facilities, including laboratories.

Cal/OSHA inspections

The California Department of Industrial Relations - Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is responsible for enforcing California laws and regulations pertaining to workplace safety and health.

Cal/OSHA inspectors make unannounced visits to make sure the UC San Diego campus and associated facilities are safe and healthy workplaces.

CUPA inspections

The Certified Unified Program Agencies, or CUPA, is a state-authorized consolidation of 6 environmental and emergency response programs at the local level. CUPA inspects businesses or facilities that handle or store hazardous materials, generate hazardous waste, generate medical waste, and own or operate underground storage tanks.

Annual CUPA inspection of UC San Diego facilities is conducted by County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) inspectors. Campus inspections usually begin in August.

County inspectors typically visit approximately 4,000 UC San Diego laboratories, shops, and mechanical spaces during the annual CUPA inspection, looking at our handling and waste management practices and emergency response capabilities for chemical, biological, and universal hazardous materials.

Be ready for the annual CUPA inspection. Make sure your lab is in compliance with requirements for the following:

Biohazardous and medical waste
  • Store biohazardous waste in double red bags inside rigid, leak-proof and covered containers labeled with the word "Biohazard" and the international biohazard symbol. Do not overfill containers.
Chemical waste
  • Use the Online Waste Tag Program (OTP) to achieve compliance with hazardous waste regulations. Attach a completed UC San Diego hazardous waste tag to chemical waste containers as soon as waste is put in the container.
  • Keep waste containers closed and in secondary containment.
  • Regardless of the amount of waste in the container, hazardous chemical waste must be collected by EH&S for disposal within 90 days of the accumulation start date.
  • The most common violations during past inspections usually occur with the EtBr waste streams. Please tag all gel buckets and keep buffer waste containers closed.
Empty Research Container Management
  • Determine whether containers were used with hazardous or extremely hazardous material
  • Determine whether containers are empty
  • Manage the containers accordingly per Disposal Flowchart and Research Container Disposal Poster
Chemical storage and labeling
  • Review chemical compatibility throughout your lab.
  • Label containers of hazardous materials—and containers that could be mistaken for hazardous materials—with the contents in English. Make sure vacuum flasks used for disinfection are properly labeled (example: "tissue culture media disinfected with bleach 9:1").
  • Post a current Chemical Abbreviation Reference Sheet in the lab if chemical abbreviations are used for labeling.
Compressed gas cylinders
  • Secure cylinders with an upper and lower non-combustible restraint.
  • Remove the regulator and place the cylinder cap on cylinders that are not in use.
Emergency preparedness procedures Safety training and documentation 
  • County inspectors require evidence of safety training for every member of the lab during their inspections. Keep training records easily accessible. If it's not documented, it didn't happen.
  • See Safety Training for Researchers for requirements.
Sharps disposal
  • Do not overfill sharps containers; anything sticking out the top of the container is a violation.
  • Properly label sharps containers according to the contents and contaminants present.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspections

Controlled Substances (CS) inventory must be made available during normal buisiness hours for unannounced audits by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Learn more about Controlled Substance Audits and lab requirements.

If a DEA inspector arrives in your lab without the Controlled Substances Program (CSP) present, call the CSP (858)584-1362 immediately. 

Questions? Contact an EH&S Research Assistance Program specialist.

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