Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence

Draft XL Inspection Grading Scheme

Purpose: The purpose of this revised "scoring" scheme is to develop a simple and consistent format for evaluating waste management practices at research laboratories at the three XL Institutions. This grading scheme is also designed to move beyond scores based solely on compliance with the Minimum Performance Criteria to include elements associated with prudent laboratory practices, environmental awareness and pollution prevention.

How the program works: An inspector/auditor conducts an audit of a laboratory using their own audit protocol or checklist. In other words, the checklist questions do not need to perfectly match this assessment form. Based on the review (observations, interviews and/or records), a total score is generated based on the following five categories: Container Management, Housekeeping, Pollution Prevention, Self-Inspections and Training and Awareness. A total score is then generated.

Container management has a top score of 3 while all other elements have a top score of 2. While this grading scheme may feel overly structured now, I am confident that with a little practice, the scores will be generated quickly, with a minimum of haggling over a 1 or 2, etc. A minimum score for a laboratory is a zero (0). A maximum score for a laboratory is an eleven (11).


Container Management


Pollution Prevention


Training and Awareness [1]


3 pts = no violations (labeling, closed containers, accumulation, incompatibles, etc)






2 pts = 1 or 2 deficiencies that can be easily remedied on the spot

2 pts = Well organized and clean laboratory, including all hoods. Emergency response equipment (eyewashes, showers) are marked and accessible.

2 pts = P2 initiatives thoughtfully considered and/or implemented (waste reduction, reuse, substitution, reduced toxicity) at laboratory level. After consideration, it is possible that no opportunities exist.

2 pts = lab inspections performed routinely, in accordance with institutional policy; records available in lab or at EH&S office; corrective actions completed

2 pts = all lab workers trained and demonstrate knowledge and awareness (e.g., emergency response, EMP). Chemical safety information is available


1 pt = multiple violations that require follow-up

1 pt = Housekeeping is adequate; Emergency response equipment (eyewashes, showers) are marked and accessible; housekeeping in some hoods could be improved

1 pt = P2 opportunities limited to institutional programs (e.g., Hg thermometers)

1 pt = lab inspections performed on an intermittent basis (greater than 50% of the time); records available; corrective action plans in place or being implemented

1 pt = all trained, but may fail to demonstrate full knowledge and awareness of program. Chemical safety information is available.


0 pt - multiple violations that may pose a potential harm to human health and the environment [2]

0 pt - housekeeping is inadequate and safety issues (e.g., response equipment is blocked)

0 - No evidence of pollution prevention program

0 - Lab inspections do not appear to be performed on a routine basis.

0 - Training does not appear to be completed for all lab workers









[1] Assignment of scores can be based on training records or other relevant knowledge if no personnel are available for interview.
[2] Addition points in the other four categories would not be available if a laboratory scores a zero (0) for container management.

EXAMPLE #1 - Typical Busy Laboratory

An inspection of an organic chemistry laboratory finds that container management is generally good, but one bottle has a funnel in it and there is one container that is uncapped. This is a very busy laboratory and housekeeping is not outstanding. Based on lab worker interviews, all workers have received lab safety/hazardous waste training. Monthly lab inspections are performed, with the exception of last month. While a commitment to P2 is expressed and Hg thermometer changeouts have occurred, there is no evidence of microscale or chemical substitution.
Container Management = 2
Housekeeping = 0
Training and Awareness = 2
Self-Inspections = 1
Pollution Prevention = 1

EXAMPLE #2 - Bad Lab

An inspection of a soils science laboratory finds everything in shambles. There are labeling violations; evidence of spills in and around the sink; inherently waste-like materials that have accumulated, including picric acid and ethyl ether, over many years; open containers appearing to be venting into the hood. The PI tries to explain the cutting edge research being performed on degradation of heavy metals in soils and describes the various pollution prevention initiatives in the lab to minimize the generation of hazardous waste. In this scenario, the container management score would be 0, and the laboratory would be deemed ineligible for any points in the other categories.
Container Management = 0
Housekeeping = 0
Training and Awareness = 0
Self-Inspections = 0
Pollution Prevention = 0

EXAMPLE #3 - The Limited Chemical Use Laboratory

Perfect Container Management but little else. A physics laboratory is audited and containers appear to be perfectly managed. Housekeeping is neat, but nothing extraordinary. The EH&S records show that the PI and the technician have been trained. There is no knowledge, or evidence, that lab inspections are being performed or that P2 opportunities have been explored or taken.
Container Management = 3
Housekeeping = 1
Training and Awareness = 1
Self-Inspections = 0
Pollution Prevention = 0

Note: A number of laboratories may fit into this category (e.g., medical labs, physyics labs) and they may be hard pressed to score any P2 points. Any thoughts on how to score or give them credit (e.g., unique scoring system; recognition that top score may be 9)???

EXAMPLE #4 - Inadequate container management but great programs

A chemistry lab with a number of graduate students has four container management violations involving labeling (3) and open containers (1). However, housekeeping (e.g., organization of chemicals and materials) is excellent; there is a list of all laboratory workers and their training dates is posted in the lab and questions confirm their knowledge; self-inspections are done and recorded; and they have replaced toxic solvents with less toxic ethanol and are using micr-scale techniques for their primary research.
Container Management = 1
Housekeeping = 2
Training and Awareness = 2
Self-Inspections = 2
Pollution Prevention = 2

1 Assignment of scores can be based on training records or other relevant knowledge if no personnel are available for interview.

2 Addition points in the other four categories would not be available if a laboratory scores a zero (0) for container management.