Utility Outage

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You should consider both your personal safety and that of others working in the same area. Under these circumstances; people should remain calm and assess the situation. If the situation escalates out control or is dangerous, the area must be evacuated and others must be assisted to evacuate. Once the area is evacuated, do not re-enter the building until the competent authority has determined it is safe to do so.

If you cannot conduct work but your exit can be safely delayed, notify the responsible faculty member or LSS, shut off work in progress that could cause hazards, close containers, close fume hood/biosafety cabinet sashes, and return hazardous material containers to their proper storage locations. Some utility failures may have insignificant impact on your operations, and you can safely continue work as determined by LS/LSS.

If the failure appears likely to last for a long period, and directions of LS/LSS. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed for as long as possible and implement backup procedures as necessary, such as obtaining dry ice to keep specimen refrigerators cold. When systems return to normal operation, immediately assess the work area (even on weekends if that is when service is restored) for any hazards that may be present, such as electric devices (heaters, ovens, centrifuges, etc.) left on when the outage occurred.

Electrical Failure

    • Assess the extent of the outage in your area.
    • Report the outage to Operation and Technical Services and LS.
    • Help other users in darkened work areas move to safe locations.
    • Implement pre-planned response actions, as necessary. Do not treat the outage as “business as usual.”
    • If practical, secure current experimental work, then move it to a safe location.
    • Close any open containers of hazardous materials.
    • Close sashes on fume hoods and biological safety cabinets.
    • If you move chemicals on carts between floors, get assistance. Hazardous spills pose significant risk during transport.
    • Keep lab refrigerators or freezers closed throughout the outage.
    • Unplug personal computers, non-essential electrical equipment, and appliances.
    • Open windows for additional light and ventilation (during mild weather).
    • If you are asked to evacuate your building, secure any hazardous materials work and leave the building.
    • Release users during an extended outage if directed to do so by LS.
    • When power is restored, immediately assess the affected area for potentially hazardous situations, such as devices left “ON”. This is also required if power is restored at a time that the facility would be normally unoccupied.

HVAC/Fume Hood Fan Failure

  • Notify other occupants of the situation.
  • If necessary; evacuate area (and pull fire alarm if the situation is widespread)
  • Notify your LS and responsible faculty member.
  • Shut down work in progress if safe to do so:
    • Shut off equipment and supplied gases and liquids;
    • Close open containers.
    • Close sashes on fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, etc.
    • Note the step in the process when work was stopped.
    • Return specimens to freezer, storage containers, etc.
    • Open windows if users are to remain in the workplace.
    • If users remain in the workplace, periodically check on their well being and evacuate if anyone is adversely affected.
    • Prior to re-starting work in the area, review work to identify possible hazards.
    • If the outage caused damage, submit an accident report to LS/LSS.
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References and sources for information from the relevant websites and documentation of different universities, NGOs and government agencies used in the preparation of this website are provided at references.

Response To Specific Incidents/Accidents