Ordering/Shipping Information

Information about ordering procedures does not in any way negate or alter the procedures of The University of Alabama Purchasing Department or your departmental policies.  This information is specific for the EHS role in reviewing or approving purchased materials or equipment.

To request assistance with a shipment of hazardous materials FROM UA, click here.

For more shipping information, please see the EHS page on Shipping Information.  For assistance determining if your shipment is regulated as dangerous goods, please contact Jeff Hallman or Marcy Huey.

General Information

UA has purchasing agreements with a number of vendors.  The primary vendor for scientific purchases, including chemicals, is VWR (as of September 2013).  Information about purchasing procedures or approved vendors is available at Purchasing.

If you are purchasing any scientific laboratory furniture, equipment or supplies, you must order from the approved vendor, unless you have approval from the purchasing department to order from an alternate location.  As part of purchases approval process for off-vendor purchases, orders are sent to EHS for review.  We review the chemicals, hazards, intended usage location, facility safety equipment, and determine any needed SOPs.  If there are any questions, we will contact the PI for additional information.  Otherwise, approval is provided to the purchasing agent and the order is approved and placed.

Each department has their own purchasing procedures when placing orders via P-card, but any order over a UA determined limit is submitted to Purchasing.  This includes equipment orders.  These orders are sent to a review group that includes representatives from a number of departments, including EHS.  Each of these are reviewed and any needed permits, registrations or installation concerns are identified before the order is placed.  While this review process can add a few days to the ordering process, it is designed to save time on the installation and/or usage of equipment or materials once they arrive at UA.

Ordering Chemicals

The University of Alabama has an approval process for chemical orders.  The intention of the approval process is three-fold:

  1. To address the security concerns of the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards for Chemicals of Interest.
  2. To provide an opportunity for an initial risk assessment for high hazard chemicals.
  3. To allow for a facility review for materials requiring specialized safety equipment

Before any order is placed, ordering personnel should check the most current list of Chemicals Requiring Prior Approval.  If a material is found to be listed, submit a Request for Approval.  EHS personnel review these requests twice a day.  If the material can be used in the proposed lab space and all lab documents are current, approval is issued via email to the PI and the ordering personnel.  If not, the PI will be contacted to discuss alternatives and the order will be modified, if needed.  Once approved, the PI and any listed ordering contacts will receive an email with the approval number and shipping information.  This number should be referenced on the package and on all of the order documents.

These items should be shipped to EHS for verification and inventory.  The EHS shipping address is available on the Contact Us page.

Questions about this process should be addressed to the Chemical Hygiene Officer, Marcy Huey.

Ordering Biological Materials

Orders of biological materials are subjected to the same review process as all other items if they are ordered from a vendor not currently on contract/bid.  Additionally, orders of biological materials at BSL2 or higher, as well as orders of biological toxins should be reviewed by EHS.  Several of the material vendors that handle biological agents require certification statements from the Biological Safety Officer (Marcy Huey).

When we received an order of a biological material to review, we will review it to our database of IBC approved projects and approved biological materials.  If a material cannot be shown to be associated with a current or pending project, the PI will be contacted for additional information/clarification.  If the material will require IBC review, the order will not be released until a Biological Use Authorization is submitted to the IBC.  We will also review the facilities proposed for use, to ensure that the material can be safely used in the proposed area.  If any modifications are required, we will work with the PI to get those addressed while the order is in transit.

Questions about this process should be addressed to the Biological Safety Officer , Marcy Huey.

Ordering Lasers or Laser Systems

Lasers and laser systems must be approved by the Laser Safety Committee before they can be used at The University of Alabama.  Therefore, any new laser system must have an Initial Laser Registration submitted.  In most cases, the PI will not have all the requested information for a new laser that is being ordered.  (The purchase review can be completed with partial information, but the registration must be completed in full before the laser or laser system can be approved for use.)  The laser system will not be released for purchase until this initial registration is completed and reviewed by the LSO and the Laser Safety Committee.

Additionally, most laser systems are large enough orders to quality for an equipment review.  These orders are sent to a review group that includes representatives from a number of departments, including EHS.  Each of these are reviewed and any needed permits, registrations or installation concerns (like emergency power, ventilation or cooling water) are identified before the order is placed.  While this review process can add time to initial stages of the ordering process, it is designed to save time overall on the installation and/or usage of equipment or materials once they arrive at UA.

Barrier and facility requirements are listed in the UA LASER SAFETY MANUAL.  Since Class 3B and Class 4 lasers require lighted signage, the pre-purchase review allows for verification or installation of these warning devices.  Additionally proposed lab spaces must be inspected before use.   The PI should contact EHS when the laser is received and set up for experimentation, but before use, to arrange for inspection.

Questions about this process should be addressed to the Laser Safety Officer , Marcy Huey.

Ordering Radioactive Materials or Radiation Producing Equipment

Radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment must be approved under the terms of the state radiation license as well as the individual lab sublicense before any of these orders can be placed.  This includes items that can be ordered on a departmental P-card.  Anyone wishing to order radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment must contact the Radiation Safety Officer, Hal Barrett, via phone or email to request review of the proposed order.  The information required for review includes:

  • Item
  • Amount
  • Vendor
  • Any special usage conditions or circumstances

When we receive an order to review, we will compare it to our database of RCAC approved projects and approved radiological materials.  If a material or item of equipment cannot be shown to be associated with a current or pending project, the PI will be contacted for additional information/clarification.  We will also review the facilities proposed for use, to ensure that this material or equipment can be safely used or installed in the proposed area.  If any modifications are required, we will work with the PI to get those addressed.  Once the order is approved, the PI and any listed ordering contacts will receive an email from the RSO with the approval number.  These items cannot be ordered without this approval number. This approval number as well as the PI sublicense number should be referenced on the package as well as on all of the ordering documents.

These items should be shipped to EHS for verification and inventory.  The EHS shipping address is available on the Contact Us page.

Questions about this process should be addressed to the Radiation Safety Officer, Hal Barrett.