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Working Safely in the Physical Sciences Complex

The Physical Sciences Complex (PSC) includes Baker Laboratory, Olin Chemistry Research Wing, the Physical Sciences Building and Clark Hall. Research activities within these buildings encompass areas of physics, engineering physics, chemistry and biochemistry. 

Due to the nature of research activities within the complex, there are a number of biological, chemical and physical hazards that individuals working in these spaces must be made aware of.  These hazards include electrical (high voltage), chemicals, confined spaces, biological and radioactive materials, radiation producing equipment, lasers, superconducting and electromagnets, cryogenic liquids and compressed gases.

Recognizing Hazards in Research Spaces

The PSC uses the Hazard Assessment Signage Program (HASP) to denote hazards in a space, entry requirements, points of contact and specific emergency response procedures. HASP uses a system of 3, color-coded, risk categories to classify the degree of risk that each hazard may pose: 

  • Gray: Low; no special precautions need to be taken, no special restriction on who may enter the area
  • Yellow: Moderate; standard laboratory precautions should be followed, access usually restricted to trained laboratory staff or accompanied visitor
  • Red: High; special precautions are followed, special equipment in use, access limited to designated staff members

Information provided by the HASP sign includes:

  • Location Designation – Facility name and room number
  • Supervisor And Other Information
  •  Contacts For The Area – Individuals you can contact if you have a question or concern
  • Access Limitations – Who can enter the area
  • Area Hazards and Warnings
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment and security restrictions
  • Emergency Information – Instructions to emergency responders

Recognizing Specific Chemical Hazards- GHS Labeling 

Newer chemical containers are compliant with the new GHS Hazard Communication System. This system uses a series of (9) pictograms to classify chemicals according to their health, physical and environmental hazards. In addition to pictograms, each label includes hazard statements, and the signal words “Danger” and “Warning” to communicate hazard information on product labels.

Do you have a safety question or concern?

Please let us know simply by e-mailing us at or you can click on the link below to start the process.