Laboratory Safety Rules

Safety & Access Reference Guide  User Policy & Training Manual

Carleton Lab is an active heavy civil engineering testing lab. This lab is not just subject to the standard safety regulations for chemical labs, as mandated by the FDNY, but also further safety regulations that are common in heavy production facilities and construction sites.

All points of access of Carleton Laboratory are controlled by the centralized Columbia University Lenel Proximo access system. Access to the laboratory is granted only to faculty and staff of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics as well as authorized students. Any person who has not received the appropriate level of lab safety training must register with lab management. “Browsing” of the lab by unannounced/unauthorized persons is dangerous and will not be tolerated.

The Carleton Lab is protected by a closed circuit camera system.


The lab floor is marked with colored guide lines to delineate different zones of the lab:

Traffic Area Symbol Traffic Area – main traffic route through lab; stay on these paths unless entering a specific lab area; keep area clear of obstructions; beware of moving vehicles. Persons without safety training are to remain in these areas unless authorized by lab staff.
Physical Hazard Area Symbol Physical Hazard Area – this area contains a physical hazard, entry by laboratory staff only (yellow cones are equivalent to yellow lines).
Clean Area Symbol Clean Area – enter area only if authorized by lab staff. Enter only with clean clothes and shoes, and do not bring soiled tools into space.


Fire Equipment Ceiling Lights Fire Equipment – marks the location of fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and fire alarm pull stations.
Green Strobe
First Aid Kit – marks the location of a first aid kit.


Carleton Lab is equipped with an audiovisual warning system that advises persons present in the lab of potential hazards.

Amber Strobe Symbol Amber Strobe – Carleton Lab is equipped with an audiovisual warning system that advises persons present in the lab of potential hazards.
Green Strobe
Green Strobe – test in progress, enter area only with express permission of lab staff.
Horn/Siren Symbol
Siren (high pitch) – single blow signal when remote control crane is activated. Operator may also blow siren to signal users to clear area.

Buzzer (low pitch) – signal used to warn all persons present of active testing.

  • one blow – prepare for test, clear area
  • two blows – area clear, test starting
  • three blows – test completed, area safe
Bell Symbol
Bell - fire alarm, evacuate building immediately, close all doors on the way out.

Important: The Engineering Terrace building is equipped with a NYC Code Fire Alarm System; this system will only sound two sets of four bell rings. The fact that the system does not continue ringing does not mean that the fire alarm is over. All personnel MUST evacuate the lab once the fire bell sounds.


  • In the lab pedestrians must yield to the forklift. Due to the limited line of sight of the forklift operator in many loading and lifting situations, you must assume that the forklift operator cannot see you.
  • Never walk directly in front of or behind the forklift when it is in motion.


The lab is equipped with a number of remote controlled gantry cranes. Be aware of their presence at all times. The hi-bay area contains three trambeam cranes that can move within the entire hi-bay space and parts of the mezzanine.

  • Never step under a crane, be it loaded or unloaded.
  • Always look up and check for position of cranes before entering the high-bay area; a flashing amber strobe signals that the crane is active.

The lab also has a number of removable floor panels. Be aware of these when you are walking. Never cross an area that is cordoned off with yellow cones. This is a warning that hazards lie beyond this point. Ask the lab staff for a safe path in case a normal route is obstructed.

Carleton laboratory Site-specific training

This training introduces Carleton Lab users to the policies and procedures pertaining to safety, hazard communication, equipment use, and emergency response. It also provides an outline to user amenities, equipment-specific training protocols, equipment reservation, machine shop use, fabrication requests, and guidance to obtaining all necessary trainings to work safely in the lab. This training program is required of all laboratory users.


All personnel working in the Carleton Laboratory must take the online Machine Shop Safety Course.

Active machinery should be approached only with the permission of the operator of the machine. Eye and ear protection must be worn, whenever appropriate (and warning provided on machine).

Only authorized persons are allowed to use the machinery in the laboratory and in the machine shop. Machines may be used only by staff and students who have been properly trained by the lab personnel.


University personnel working with chemicals must attend an initial training session in person and take a refresher every three years thereafter.

Columbia University is an EPA zero effluent site, which in turn requires laboratory users to retain all generated waste for pickup by Environmental Health & Safety. It is a violation of federal law to dispose of hazardous materials and oil waste by pouring it down the drain or routing it into general waste. Furthermore hazardous waste, once generated by the lab user, may not leave the laboratory facility unless in the custodoy of an EH&S hazardous waste officer. See the training schedule.


The carriage of lab property beyond the premises of the Carleton Lab is strictly forbidden. The use of any laboratory property outside of its walls must be authorized by management.

500 W. 120th St., MC4709, 161 Engineering Terrace, New York, NY 10027    212-854-3158              
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