Research Knowledge Base
Lab Close-Out Checklist
This page provides an overview of the steps that a researcher and departmental staff should follow to safely and efficiently close down a laboratory operation. These items, and others applicable to the specific activities of the researcher, should be completed prior to the departure of a researcher from the University by cooperation of the researcher and the departmental staff, or by the department staff if the researcher is not available.
Ensure that researcher has completed/arranged for the completion of the following items as applicable prior to departure from the University (or have departmental staff complete if researcher is not available).
1. Research Materials
- Ensure appropriate disposition/transfer of animal colonies. Contact Research Animal Resources Center (RARC).
- Inventory any chemicals and properly dispose of them through Employee Health and Safety (or transfer to other labs).
- Inventory biological materials and samples, including animal and human tissues, and properly dispose of them (or transfer to other labs). Autoclave or make safe by other means before disposal. Contact Office of Biological Safety for assistance.
- Inventory radioactive materials and properly dispose of them (or transfer to other labs). Contact Office of Radiation Safety for assistance.
- Identify any incoming Material Transfer Agreements under which materials were transferred to the laboratory, and assure any materials covered by such MTAs are disposed of as provided by the terms of the MTAs.
- Properly package and label for transport any hazardous materials that are to be shipped off-campus. Ensure packaging and labeling is done by individual who has completed hazardous materials shipping training. For Registered Select Agent laboratories, consult with Rebecca Moritz with the Select Agent Program for proper laboratory close-out procedures. Any transfer of Select Agents must be in accordance with Select Agent regulations.
- Properly dispose of all DEA controlled substances. Permission to transfer controlled substances must be obtained from the DEA. Transfer responsibility of remaining materials and samples to other employees.
- Properly dispose of all remaining hazardous waste. Contact Employee Health and Safety for assistance.
2. Laboratory Space and Equipment
- Identify gas cylinders; store all unreturned cylinders with the valve off and the cap on. Ensure that their contents are properly indicated. Contact Employee Health and Safety for pick-up of unwanted cylinders.
- Clean all laboratory surfaces, and decontaminate any surfaces that require it.
- Empty, clean and defrost refrigerators and freezers. Ensure that any materials contained in the refrigerators or freezers are disposed of appropriately (see section 1, above).
- Decontaminate equipment (including freezers, refrigerators, incubators, and drying ovens) that may be contaminated with chemicals, biological material, or radioactive material, and test as necessary to ensure thorough decontamination. Contact Employee Health and Safety for assistance.
- Remove warning stickers (such as stickers indicating the presence of radioactive materials) from areas to which they no longer apply.
- If leaving a biosafety lab, decontaminate lab as appropriate based on designated Biosafety Level. Contact the Office of Biological Safety for assistance.
- Decontaminate lab equipment that you intend to discard.
- Clean out all laboratory drawers, being sure to avoid sharps. Properly dispose of all sharp items, including glass, pipettes, and syringes, or transfer to another laboratory if unused. Place sharps, including contaminated sharps, in safe containers before disposal.
- Discard unwanted glassware in trash, packaging properly to ensure safe disposal; treat as sharps.
- Survey all shared areas to locate and appropriately dispose of the lab's hazardous materials.
- If laboratory equipment is to be left for the next occupant, clean and decontaminate it before departing the laboratory.
- Evaluate units containing refrigerants to determine if refrigerant needs to be removed. Contact Employee Health and Safety for assistance.
3. University Data and Materials
- Identify and transfer to department official or next responsible party all laboratory notebooks, data, and other materials in which the university has a remaining interest. Consult and comply with the University policies on Data Stewardship and Tangible Research Property.
- With respect to data or materials obtained or created in the course of human subjects research, ensure such data or materials are disposed of or preserved in a manner consistent with the requirements of the consent form or as otherwise directed by the Health Sciences or Education and Social/Behavioral Science IRBs. Contact the relevant IRB Office (ED/SBS IRB Office or Health Sciences IRBs Office) or Office Research Policy, if further guidance is needed.
- Identify any non-disclosure agreements in effect for information received by the lab from third parties, and transfer or otherwise appropriately dispose of all such information as required by the terms of the non-disclosure agreement.
- Identify any other confidential information in the lab, such as employment files and records of student activities, and ensure that any such records are maintained or disposed of properly.
- For assistance with disposal, contact the Office of Research Policy or University Records Management Program.
4. Access Control
- Return all keys to department and disable WiscCard functions, including keycard access.
- Disable punch-code access to locked facilities.
- Withdraw access to proprietary software and internal websites.
- Return university-owned laptop computers, mobile devices, and other electronics.
- Disable employee email account and other NetID resources.
- Withdraw/remove from internal email lists.
- Collect/terminate parking permits.
- Withdraw access to subscriptions to outside services/organizations paid for by the university.
5. Human Resources and Administration
- Ensure that students and researchers have been reassigned and all human resources responsibilities have been fulfilled.
- Advise consultation with human resources regarding termination of employee benefits.
- Obtain future address and/or phone number of employee.
- Ensure that teaching responsibilities have been transferred, if appropriate.
- Ensure that all outstanding travel reimbursements have been submitted and processed.
- Alert outside entities that interface with departed employee of the departure, and provide new point of contact as applicable.
- Arrange for replacements on boards and committees.
Keywords: Lab Close-Out Checklist, research materials, lab space and equipment, university data and materials, access control, human resources and administration