The Catholic University of America

Archived 1/20/15

Laboratory Security Policy


Laboratories contain valuable research equipment, samples, work in progress, notes and data. They also contain potentially hazardous materials, such as chemicals, biological agents, and radioactive substances. All of these University assets must be protected from unauthorized access, mishandling, or removal.

The Principal Investigator of a lab has overall responsibility for protecting these University assets. However, all faculty, students, and staff who access the labs are expected to take precautions to protect against theft or misuse of items found in the laboratories. Security measures should correspond to the potential risks and must not unduly hamper research.

At The Catholic University of America, we apply the following approaches to security:

  • Limit building access through exterior doors. Buildings with laboratories will be accessible through main entrances. Other entrances will be normally locked from the outside but will be usable as exits.
  • Limit access to laboratories.
  • Safeguard documents, equipment, and materials of concern.
  • Use sound computer security practices.

In order to safeguard personnel, the facility, and data/materials, all laboratory personnel are, at a minimum, to comply with the following security procedures:

  • Question the presence of unfamiliar/suspicious individuals in laboratories and/or building common areas. Report all such persons (i.e., without CUA ID) and suspicious activity immediately to Public Safety at x5111.
  • Keep laboratory doors closed and locked, unless someone responsible is actually present.
  • Do not give laboratory keys to contractors; contractors doing work in a lab must be let in and monitored continually by a responsible individual from the University.
  • Secure important research documents and experimental materials (e.g., lab notebooks, samples) in locked areas. Store hazardous substances in locked cabinets when these items are not in active use.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of all hazardous substances (chemical, biological, and radioactive) and have it readily available for review.
  • Never share your computer password with anyone. Lock up computer disks containing sensitive information or data. Log off or shut down your computer when you are away from it, and if you have any reason to suspect that anyone is trying to gain access to your files, change your password and report your suspicions to Public Safety.
  • Report missing materials, documents, samples, etc., immediately upon discovery to Public Safety.

Normally, open laboratory building exterior doors are secured after normal business hours. To minimize the likelihood of unauthorized access, all after-hours building users must:

  • Avoid providing building access to unfamiliar individuals.
  • Secure doors behind themselves.
  • Report any building security issues to Public Safety immediately after securing your own safety.

Research and/or other activities involving the use of lab space, materials, or equipment may only be done with the knowledge and approval of the responsible Principal Investigator. Violation of this prohibition may result in severe disciplinary action.