Museum of Southwestern Biology

Hazardous Waste Policy

This Policy applies to all Museum employees who have potential for exposure to hazardous materials in the work environment. A hazardous material is defined as any material which by reason of being particularly reactive, explosive, flammable, poisonous, corrosive, oxidizing, irritating, or otherwise harmful is likely to cause injury or death to employees, or destruction of property. When no longer useable, this material becomes a hazardous waste. Hazardous wastes can be biological (biohazardous) and include infectious wastes such as bacteria, viruses, and bodily fluids. Chemical wastes are non-radioactive chemicals that meet any of the criteria listed above for hazardous materials. Refer to the University's "Hazardous Waste Management Guidelines" for a list of hazardous chemicals and their reactivity. 

The objectives of this Policy are: to define the role of supervisors and employees relative to hazardous wastes; to provide employees with information concerning the storage and disposal of biohazardous and chemical wastes; and to reduce the incidence and/or likelihood of workplace injuries and illnesses from biohazardous and chemical exposures.

Authority and Responsibilities

The University has delegated authority regarding the collection and disposal of hazardous wastes to the Safety and Risk Services office. Nonetheless, the Museum is aware of its role in providing a safe and healthy environment to its staff, volunteers, and visitors. The Museum Director is responsible for ensuring compliance with all environmental health and safety policies. Supervisors (curators and/or collection managers) must inform employees of all harmful agents associated with their work environment, as well as how to protect themselves from danger. Employees are responsible for knowing the Museum's Policy and notifying their supervisor of potentially harmful agents.

Storage of Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials must be stored in approved storage containers that meet OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) requirements, and accompanied with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS; see below). Small quantities may also be stored in any metal cabinet in other areas provided that the container is labeled appropriately (i.e., CAUTION: FLAMMABLE). 

Material Safety Data Sheet

The MSDS is required for any hazardous chemical stored at MSB and shall be clearly posted where the hazardous material is used or stored. The MSDS is "required reading" for all employees working at that worksite prior to initial use of the material and these are available electronically.

Chemical Inventory List

A list of all hazardous (and potentially hazardous) chemicals shall be completed by each division and updated annually. The list should contain, as a minimum, the following information: name of chemical, amount, and storage site. Each division should try to minimize the quantity of hazardous chemicals and should reassess on an annual basis the need to retain such chemicals. 

Container Labeling

All hazardous or potentially hazardous materials shall be stored in the original container that carries a warning label listing the chemical name, hazardous ingredients, hazard warnings, and the manufacturer's name and address. Transfer of chemical products from one container to another is permissible provided that the new container is properly labeled and meets OSHA and NFPA (National Fire Protection Act) standards. Transfer of flammable liquids requires that both containers are grounded and bonded together with a bonding wire.


Employees are to be informed of all hazardous chemicals in their work areas at the time of their initial assignments, and whenever a new hazard is introduced into their work areas. Minimum training shall include a review of the University's "Hazardous Waste Management Guidelines" and a briefing on the types of hazardous substances that the employee will come in contact with. 

Disposal of Hazardous Chemicals

This information should be listed on the appropriate MSDS. In general, no hazardous wastes can be disposed of down the drain or in the trash. Contact the University's Safety and Risk Services Office for information on disposal of specific chemicals. 

Disposal of Biohazardous Wastes

Biohazardous wastes are sealed in an autoclavable "biohazard bag" and autoclaved. Animal wastes which are not considered to be hazardous are bagged and transported to Veterinary Diagnostic Services for incineration. The material is stored in a "waste freezer" if it cannot be processed immediately. Refer to divisional policies for additional information on the disposal of biohazardous wastes.