Universities get surprise visits from hazardous waste regulators


Several universities in the northwest have been subjected to unannounced regulatory inspections recently by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or by the Washington State Department of Ecology. At least one university received a fine for non-compliance worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Does your workspace generate hazardous chemical waste? Avoid a fine for non-compliance by doing the following:

  • Every person who generates hazardous chemical waste must take the Managing Laboratory Chemicals - Online safety training course.
  • Follow the guidance on our website to be confident that your lab or workspace can pass a surprise inspection.
  • Call EH&S at 206.543.0467 when inspectors arrive.

Pop Quiz

Two official-looking people from the Department of Ecology knock on your door and state their intention to conduct an inspection in your workspace for compliance with hazardous waste regulations. What do you do?

  1. Shut the door and lock it. 
  2. Pretend you don’t understand.
  3. Welcome the inspectors and contact the Environment Health and Safety Department (206.543.0467) to help answer any questions they may have.

The correct answer is C.

Remember, regulatory inspectors have the right to enter any workspace where hazardous chemical waste is generated to conduct an inspection at any time (as long as it does not cause a safety issue). Be friendly, welcome the inspectors and call EH&S.