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Lab Door Placards

UTK Environmental Health & Safety Procedure LS-010

This document shall provide standards for laboratories with respect to the posting of signs indicating hazards present in the lab.

Effective Date: 01/01/2009
Revision Date: 03/13/2023

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Laboratories often contain hazardous materials, equipment, and processes that could endanger first responders. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that responsible units and laboratory owners provide emergency responders with posted signage outside of laboratories that adequately identify and communicate significant hazards.


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville will use this procedure to provide emergency responders with information regarding the hazards in campus laboratories via a door placarding system facilitated by Environmental Health and Safety and with the participation of laboratory responsible units and principal investigators. The information shall use common and understandable terms and identifiers. They shall be completed in English.

Scope and Applicability

This procedure shall apply to all laboratories on campus that contain or appear to contain hazards. That is, a decommissioned lab may require lab door placard posting if it can be perceived to be a laboratory by emergency responders. The decision to post or not is at the discretion of EHS. Some labs may be identified best by room number; some may be best identified as a suite of rooms. This assignment of what a laboratory space is, is made at the discretion of EHS.

Abbreviations and Definitions


EHS: Environmental Health & Safety

PI: Principal Investigator

GHS: Globally Harmonized System of Hazard Communication

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment

SDS: Safety Data Sheets


Responsible Unit: The campus organizational unit responsible for an area, the most common example being an academic department.

Roles and Responsibilities

EHS shall:

  • Administer a program that provides Principal Investigators a mechanism to create door placards for their labs.
  • EHS will review and then post the received door placard documents.
  • Summarize door placard data as necessary for emergency response and reporting.

Responsible Units (e.g., departments) shall:

  • Ensure that laboratory spaces under their control are following this procedure.
  • Ensure that laboratory spaces, for which there is no assigned principal investigator, have complete door placards posted with the identity and contact information of an appropriate representative for the department.

Principal Investigators (PIs) or Responsible Person (assigned by the responsible unit) shall:

  • Be responsible for accurate information being placed on the door placard, according to guidance in Appendix A: Door Placard Guidance.
  • Ensure that the door placard is completed in a timely manner consistent with Laboratory Decommissioning & Commissioning procedures (Safety Manual LS-003).
  • Submit the door placard information or form to EHS for processing and posting. (EHS will review and then post the document; please do not print your own unless advised to do so by EHS.)
  • Serve as an emergency contact for their laboratory.


SA0100 Safety and Environmental Health Program

Laboratory Decommissioning & Commissioning (Safety Manual LS-003).


The information provided in these guidelines is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville and the authors of these guidelines assume no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. The material contained in these guidelines may not be the most current.

This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.

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