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Laboratory Temporary Shutdown Checklist

The Northeastern University Laboratory Temporary Shutdown Checklist is a tool to help your lab close down for an extended absence.  These absences could include holiday breaks, faculty sabbaticals, or other necessary temporary shutdown of lab operations.  The checklist is for your lab’s internal use and should be used to track progress for a sufficient lab shutdown.

This checklist may not address every consideration for your lab.  PIs, lab safety managers and all researchers should review the full list below and consider how best to adapt it to the specific needs of their laboratory.

For any further questions reach out to the office of Environmental Health and Safety at

To download a PDF of this checklist CLICK HERE.

Northeastern University Laboratory Temporary Shutdown Checklist
PreparationComplete or N/ANotes
All non-critical activities should be ramped down, suspended or delayed.
Identify one primary and one backup personnel able to safely perform essential activities. They need to give explicit permission they are willing to come in for this purpose.
Anyone coming to campus needs to use the NUPD SafeZone Mobile Safety app to “Check-In” and must carry their Husky ID card information at all times.
It is advised for essential personnel to carry their emergency contact information at all times.
CommunicationsComplete or N/ANotes
Ensure that the contact list is saved where it can be remotely accessed by everyone in the contact list. Include email, home and/or cell phone numbers. Your lab member listing must also include your department safety officer (DSO), and college safety officer. Also, please ensure that all group members are registered to receive Northeastern Emergency Alerts. To register follow the guidance located here.
Test your email group or phone tree to facilitate communication within the lab researcher group and safety officers.
Review contingency plans and emergency procedures with researchers and staff.
If possible cross-train research staff in these tasks so that they can be accomplished if the primary person is unavailable to come to campus. Ensure you are documenting critical step-by-step instructions in your Standard Operating Procedures.
Check BioRAFT to make sure emergency contacts are up to date. Ensure that an updated copy of the emergency door sign is posted on outside of lab doors.
Shipping/ReceivingComplete or N/ANotes
Limit new orders to items needed to support minimal critical functions.
If possible, cancel orders that have not yet shipped.
Plan for any outgoing hazmat shipments, both on the shipping and receiving end. Stop them if possible.
Stop any outgoing and incoming perishable shipments and ensure they are properly stored.
To schedule pick-up time email NU Mail Services personnel:;; - located in the basement of 716 Columbus Ave, phone 617-373-2114.
Managing Research MaterialsComplete or N/ANotes
Freeze down any biological stock material for long term storage.
Consolidate storage of valuable perishable items within storage units that have backup systems.
Fill Dewar's and cryogen containers for sample storage and critical equipment. Ensure that you have adequate supplies of cryogenic liquids.
Consult with DLAM about current animal care recommendations.
Secure all hazardous materials in long-term storage. Label and securely cap every container.
Ensure all flammables and combustibles are stored in flammable storage cabinets.
Ensure that all items (e.g. working stocks) are labeled appropriately.
Remove all chemicals and glassware from benchtops and fume hoods, and store in cabinets or appropriate shelving.
Request waste pickup for peroxide forming compounds or other chemicals (i.e. piranha etch) that may become unstable over time. Please use vent caps on these containers.
Collect contents of any acid/base baths and request waste pickup.
Remove infectious materials from biosafety cabinets, and autoclave, disinfect, or safely store them as appropriate.
Confirm inventory of controlled substances (including syringes and needles) and toxins of biological origin. Document in logbook.
Secure controlled substances according to DEA regulations. Consider additional measures to restrict access to controlled substances.
Secure physical hazards such as sharps.
Secure radioactive materials. Contact, if you need to transfer RAM to another location.
Review NU lab self-inspection checklists on BioRAFT.
Minimizing Physical HazardsComplete or N/ANotes
Close gas valves. If possible, shut off gas to area.
Turn off appliances, equipment, and computers. Unplug if possible.
Secure gas cylinders and store in upright position. Remove regulators and use caps.
Plan for management of non-essential cryogenically cooled equipment like SQUIDS and cryostats.
Protect against flooding from broken pipes. Elevate chemicals, materials, supplies, equipment, and electrical wires off the floor.
Check that equipment requiring uninterrupted electrical power is connected to an Uninterrupted Power Supply and/or emergency power.
Preparing EquipmentComplete or N/ANotes
Prepare equipment requiring routine upkeep if required.
Check that refrigerator, freezer, and incubator doors are tightly closed.
Biosafety cabinets: surface decontaminate the inside work area, close the sash and power down. Do NOT leave the UV light on.
Fume hoods: Clear the hood of all hazards, allowing for proper airflow and shut the sash.
Review proper shut down procedures to prevent power surging.
Shut down and unplug sensitive electronic equipment.
Ensure that up-to-date emergency contact information (names and cell phone numbers) is posted on the door of your temperature critical equipment.
Check that essential equipment is on the standby power supply setting for emergency power (red outlets).
Shut down unneeded incubators to conserve supplies as they might not be available (e.g., CO2).
Turn off all lasers and remove the key from the power source.
Shut down microscopes, hot plates, sterilizers, water baths, and all other equipment that is not being used. Unplug from energy source, if possible.
DecontaminationComplete or N/ANotes
Decontaminate/sanitize areas of the lab, as per routine at the end of the day.
Decontaminate/sanitize and clean any reusable materials.
Document a contamination survey if you have a radioactive material permit for unsealed material.
Contact EHS, if you have any questions.
Waste ManagementComplete or N/ANotes
Collect and label all hazardous chemical waste in satellite accumulation areas (SAAs). Segregate incompatible chemicals (e.g., in appropriate secondary bins or trays).
Place a request for hazardous chemical waste to be collected.
Biological waste: Disinfect and empty aspirator collection flasks.
Dispose of all biological materials appropriately.
Collect radioactive waste in appropriate waste containers. Follow EHS RAD waste protocol.
Discard unwanted, non-hazardous chemicals. Consult with EHS on guidance for any drain or trash disposal.
SecurityComplete or N/ANotes
Lock all lab doors. Ensure essential personnel supporting critical functions have access.
Close all windows.
Back up and secure lab notebooks and other data. Take laptops home.
If DEA/Mass-MCSR Controlled Substances are needed during shut down or animal emergencies, ensure that the researchers performing the essential tasks are authorized and know how to access.
General Area SafetyComplete or N/ANotes
Remove all perishable items and open food containers from the break areas, refrigerators, lockers, and personal spaces.
Please contact, your department safety officer or college safety officer with questions about how to secure hazards or safely suspend research operations in your laboratory.

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