Emergency Planning


CALL 911 from any campus phone or dial 541-346-2919 from any cell phone, or off campus phone to reach University of Oregon Police.

Emergencies can occur at any time, without warning. Careful planning, with an emphasis on safety, can help members of the UO community handle crises and emergencies with appropriate responses, and could save lives. Every member of the UO community shares responsibility for emergency preparedness. Unit heads are responsible for ensuring that their units have emergency plans in place, and that all persons – including faculty, staff and students – are familiar with those emergency plans. Unit heads are also responsible for assigning emergency preparedness and response duties to appropriate staff members. 


University of Oregon organizes, coordinates, and directs available resources toward an effective response to, and recovery from emergencies under the Emergency Management and Continuity program. The effectiveness of this effort is dependent on the development of UO’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and individual department continuity plans. The EOP is an all-hazards plan, meaning it designed to provide an emergency response outline for any incident that will impact campus. Departmental business continuity plans are stored in Oregon Ready, a web based application hosted by Emergency Management. The university, therefore, encourages colleges, divisions and individual departments to develop detailed continuity plans.


Safety and Risk Services strongly encourages all academic and administrative units to develop emergency and continuity plans. These plans are vital to ensuring life safety, property preservation, and orderly recovery following disruptive events. Policy IV.05.01 – Safety – Physical Space and Environment states that “all administrators, deans, department heads, directors, supervisors and/or principal investigators are directly accountable for the safety and health of the total environment(s) (work and/or living) for which they are responsible. This includes establishment and management of safety programs and ongoing support by each unit for safety, including the provision of appropriate training and personal protective equipment.

Plan development should not be the sole responsibility of a unit employee.  Instead, forming a team that approaches plan development in a collaborative manner typically leads to the strongest outcomes. Safety and Risk Services has developed a number of resources that can assist in preparing for emergencies:


Emergencies can include both fire and non-fire emergencies. All lab staff are trained on emergency steps in the event of a fire. “Non-fire” emergencies can include:

  • Loss of electricity, heat, AC, water or other essential utilities.
  • Failure of mechanical equipment such as HVAC systems and emergency generators.
  • Flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.
  • Nearby chemical releases of hazardous materials to the environment (from the lab down the hall or a ruptured tank car one-half mile away).
  • Terrorist actions or civil unrest.


Fire safety planning is very important to the University community. The University has developed campus-wide procedures to follow in the event of an emergency that must be posted in elevator lobbies, stairwells, and assembly spaces. Information about emergency evacuation procedures can be found on the SRS Evacuations webpage.

Fire or Explosion Procedures

All fires must be reported to UOPD, including those that have been extinguished. Do not hesitate to activate the fire alarm if you discover smoke or fire.

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the fire and evacuate the room.
  • Confine the fire by closing doors as you leave the room.
  • Activate a fire alarm by pulling on an alarm box.
  • Notify UOPD of the location and size of the fire by calling 346-2919 from a campus or mobile phone, or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone. Always call from a safe location.
  • Evacuate the building using the emergency evacuation procedure. Do not use elevators to evacuate unless directed to do so by emergency responders.
  • Notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the fire once you are outside.

If you have been trained and it is safe to do so, you may attempt to extinguish the fire with a portable fire extinguisher. Attempt to extinguish only small fires and make sure you have a clear escape path. If you have not been trained to use a fire extinguisher you must evacuate the area.

If clothing is on fire:

  • Stop - Drop to the ground or floor and Roll to smother flames.
  • Smother flames using a fire blanket.
  • Drench with water from a safety shower or other source.
  • Seek medical attention for all burns and injuries.

Laboratory Emergency Shutdown Procedures

Each laboratory facility should develop a non-fire emergency plan or incorporate non-fire emergencies into a master emergency response plan. Employees must be trained on the contents of the plan and how to respond in a non-fire emergency. EHS has devised a set of simple steps for the shutdown of labs in non-fire emergency situations. These and other steps, based on the requirements of the facility, should be included in the emergency response plan of each unit or facility. This list is by no means complete, but it gives laboratory personnel simple steps to ensure a safe lab shutdown.

  • Close fume hood sashes.
  • Be certain that the caps are on all bottles of chemicals.
  • Turn off all non-essential electrical devices. Leave refrigerators and freezers on and make sure the doors are closed. Check the disconnects of large LASERs, radio frequency generators, etc. It may be necessary to check to ensure that essential equipment is plugged in to the power receptacles supplied by the emergency generator (usually orange or red).
  • Turn off all gas cylinders at the tank valves. Note: If a low flow of an inert gas is being used to "blanket" a reactive compound or mixture, then the lab worker may want to leave the flow of gas on. This should be part of a pre-approved, written, posted standard operating procedure for this material or process.
  • Check all cryogenic vacuum traps (Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, and solvent). The evaporation of trapped materials may cause dangerous conditions. Check all containers of cryogenic liquids to ensure that they are vented to prevent the buildup of internal pressure.
  • Check all pressure, temperature, air, or moisture sensitive materials and equipment. This includes vacuum work, distillations, glove boxes used for airless/moistureless reactions, and all reactions in progress. Terminate all reactions that are in progress, based on the known scope of the emergency.
  • If experimental animals are in use, special precautions may need to be taken to secure those areas such as emergency power, alternative ventilation, etc.
  • All non-essential staff/students must leave the building. Depending on the nature of the emergency, some staff may need to stay behind to facilitate the start-up of essential equipment once the lab is reopened.
  • It is important to remember that some equipment does not shut down automatically – such as large cryogenic magnets, sources of radioactivity, and other pieces of equipment. Be sure to check any special operating procedures for your equipment before an emergency occurs.

Medical Emergency Procedures

Call 911 in any emergency that requires immediate police, fire or medical response to preserve a life.

  • Protect the victim from further injury or harm by removing any persistent threat to the victim or by removing the victim to a safe place if needed, however do not move the victim unnecessarily. Do not delay in obtaining trained medical assistance if it is safe to do so.
  • Notify UOPD of the location, nature and extent of the injury by calling 346-2919 or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone, always call from a safe location.
  • Provide first aid until help arrives if you have appropriate training and equipment, and it is safe to do so.
  • Send someone outside to escort emergency responders to the appropriate location, if possible.

Power Outage Procedures

In a power outage, assess the extent of the outage in the unit's area. Report the outage to CPFM Customer Service Center at 541-346-2319.

  • Assist other building occupants to move to safe locations. Loss of power to fume hoods may require the evacuation of laboratories and surrounding areas.
  • Implement the unit's power outage plan. Evaluate the unit's work areas for hazards created by a power outage. Secure hazardous materials. Take actions to preserve human and animal safety and health. Take actions to preserve research.
  • Turn off and/or unplug non-essential electrical equipment, computer equipment and appliances. Keep refrigerators and freezers closed throughout the outage to help keep contents cold.

Chemical Spill Procedures

When a chemical spill occurs, it is necessary to take prompt and appropriate action. The type of response to a spill will depend on the quantity of the chemical spilled and the severity of the hazards associated with the chemical. The first action to take is to alert others in your lab or work area that a spill has occurred. Then you must determine if you can safely clean up the spill yourself.

Many chemical spills can be safely cleaned up by laboratory staff without the help of EHS. Only attempt to clean up incidental spills if you are trained and have the proper spill cleanup materials available. Note: The following advice is intended for spills that occur within a University building. A release to the outside environment may require the University file a report with the EPA. Calling UOPD (346-2919) will initiate this determination by EHS.

Incidental Spills

A spill is considered incidental if the criteria below are met:


  • The spill is a small quantity of a known chemical.
  • No gases or vapors are present that require respiratory protection.


  • You have the materials and equipment needed to clean up the spill.
  • You have the necessary proper personal protective (PPE) equipment available.


  • You understand the hazards posed by the spilled chemical.
  • You know how to clean up the spill.
  • You feel comfortable cleaning up the spill.

Incidental Spill Cleanup Procedures

  1. Notify other people in the area that a spill has occurred. Prevent others from coming in contact with the spill (e.g., walking through the spilled chemical). The first priority is to always protect yourself and others.
  2. Put on the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, etc. before beginning cleanup. Do not unnecessarily expose yourself to the chemical.
  3. Stop the source of the spill if possible, and if safe to do so.
  4. Try to prevent spilled chemicals from entering waterways by building a dike around access points (sink, cup sinks, and floor drains inside and storm drains outside) with absorbent material if you can safely do so.
  5. Use the appropriate absorbent material for liquid spills (detailed in the following section).
  6. Slowly add absorbent material on and around the spill and allow the chemical to absorb. Apply enough absorbent to completely cover the spilled liquid.
  7. Sweep up the absorbed spill from the outside towards the middle.
  8. Scoop up and deposit in a leak-proof container.
  9. For acid and base spills, transfer the absorbed materials to a sink, and complete the neutralization prior to drain disposal.
  10. For absorbed hazardous chemicals, label the container and dispose of through the hazardous waste management program.
  11. If possible, mark the area of the spill on the floor with chalk.
  12. Wash the contaminated surface with soapy water. If the spilled chemical is highly toxic, collect the rinse water for proper disposal.
  13. Report the spill to your supervisor.
  14. Restock any spill cleanup supplies that you may have used from any spill kits.

Spill Absorbent Materials

Note: The following materials are EHS approved/recommended spill absorbent materials, however, they are not appropriate for every possible chemical spill – when in doubt, contact EHS for advice.

For acid spills (except Hydrofluoric acid):

  • Sodium carbonate
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Calcium bicarbonate
  • Do not use absorbent clay for acid spills

For Hydrofluoric acid (HF) spills:

  • Use Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate to tightly bind the fluoride ion.

 For liquid base spills: 

  • Use Sodium bicarbonate to lower the pH sufficiently for drain disposal. 

For oil spills: 

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik), vermiculite, or absorbent clay (kitty litter).

For most aqueous solutions: 

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik)

For most organic liquid spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik). If the liquid is flammable, be sure to use an excess of SlikQwik.

For oxidizing liquids:

  • Use absorbent clay, vermiculite, or some other nonreactive absorbent material. Do not use SlikQwik or paper towels. Note: Most nitrate solutions are not sufficiently oxidizing for this requirement.

For mercury spills:

  • Do not dispose of mercury or mercury contaminated spill debris in the regular trash or down the drain.
  • There is no absorbent material available. Physical removal processes are best for removing and collecting mercury.
  • If you need help collecting Mercury from a spill, contact EH&S spill responders by calling 346-2348. Note: While powdered sulfur will help reduce mercury vapors, the sulfur greatly complicates the spill cleanup.

Major Spills

A major spill is any chemical spill for which the researcher determines they need outside assistance to safely clean up a spill. EHS has contracts with outside vendors equipped to clean up large-scale or particularly hazardous spills. Contact UOPD at 346-2919 to initiate this response.

When a spill occurs that you are not capable of handling:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill and evacuate the room.
  • If an explosion hazard is present, do not unplug, or turn electrical equipment on or off – doing so can result in a spark and ignition source.
  • Confine the hazard by closing doors as you leave the room.
  • Use eyewash or safety showers as needed to rinse spilled chemicals off people or yourself.
  • Evacuate any nearby rooms that may be affected. If the hazard will affect the entire building, then evacuate the entire building by pulling the fire alarm.
  • Notify UOPD at 346-2919 or using a Blue Light or Emergency Telephone. Always call from a safe location.

Be prepared to provide UOPD with the following information:

  • Where the spill occurred (building and room number).
  • If there are there any injuries and if medical attention is needed.
  • The identity of the spilled material(s) - be prepared to spell out the chemical names.
  • The approximate amount of material spilled.
  • How the spill occurred (if you know).
  • Any immediate actions you took.
  • Who first observed the spill and the approximate time it occurred.
  • Where you will meet emergency responders, or provide a call back number (if available).

Once outside, notify emergency responders of the location, nature and size of the spill. Isolate contaminated persons and protect yourself and others from chemical exposure.


Although there are areas at UO where people work that could be considered hazardous, UO has no legal requirements to have first aid kits in work spaces within the campus buildings. This reasoning is addressed by OSHA (29 CFR 1910.151) and cited in the ANSI standard (Z308.1-1998) that states if medical attention can be reached within a reasonable time, or distance, to rely on the professionals and make that part of an emergency plan.

If you choose to have a first aid kit in your work space, then there are some additional requirements to address. There has to be the appropriate items in the kit to mediate an injury that could happen in your work area. There needs to be a responsible person in your work space that is trained - with their contact information posted on the kit. The kit should be maintained and complete at all times. A Workplace Injury Report should be completed when a first aid kit is used due to an injury/illness in a UO laboratory.

The ANSI Standard lists the following minimum fill requirements for a first aid kit:

  • 1 absorbent compress, 4 x 8 in. minimum
  • 5 yards adhesive tape
  • 10 antiseptic applications, 0.14 fl.oz. each
  • 1 triangular bandage, 40 x 40 x 56 in. minimum
  • 16 adhesive bandages, 1 x 3 inch
  • 2 pair medical exam gloves
  • 4 sterile pads, 3 x 3 in. minimum
  • 6 burn treatment applications, 1/32 oz. each


All accidents and injuries, no matter how minor, are required to be reported to University officials through the injury/illness reporting system. The supervisor of an injured employee, the department head, or a designated individual within the department must complete all sections of this form within 24 hours after the injury is first reported. The Workplace Injury Report can be found on the SRS webpage.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator and laboratory supervisor to ensure all injuries are reported to Safety and Risk Services.

Medical Consultations

When a chemical exposure occurs, medical consultations and medical examinations will be made available to laboratory workers who work with hazardous chemicals as required. All work related medical examinations and consultations will be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and will be provided at no cost to the employee without loss of pay, through Cascade Health Solutions or the nearest emergency clinic.

The opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow up examinations, will be provided to employees who work with hazardous chemicals under the following circumstances:

  • Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed in the laboratory.
  • Where airborne exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level (or in the absence of an action level, the Permissible Exposure Limit) for an OSHA regulated substance for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements. Action level means the airborne concentration of a specific chemical, identified by OSHA, and calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA).
  • Whenever an event such as a spill, leak, explosion or other occurrence takes place and results in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure. Upon such an event, the affected employee shall be provided an opportunity for a medical consultation. The consultation shall be for the purpose of determining the need for a medical examination.

Information Provided to the Physician

The physician shall be provided with the following information:

  • The identity of the hazardous chemical(s) to which the employee may have been exposed. Such information can be found in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the chemical(s).
  •  A description of the conditions under which the exposure occurred including quantitative exposure data, if available.
  • A description of the signs and symptoms of exposure that the employee is experiencing, if any.

The Physician’s Written Opinion

The physician’s written opinion for the consultation or examination shall include:

  • The results of the medical examination and any associated tests.
  • Any medical condition that may be revealed in the course of the examination, which may place the employee at increased risk as a result of exposure to a hazardous workplace.
  • A statement that the employee has been informed by the physician of the results of the consultation or medical examination and any medical condition that may require further examination or treatment.
  • The written opinion shall not reveal specific findings of diagnoses unrelated to the occupational exposure.

All records of medical consultations, examinations, tests, or written opinions shall be maintained within Safety & Risk Services in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020 - Access to employee exposure and medical records. Exposure monitoring records of contaminate levels in laboratories will be maintained at SRS office.