MCL COVID safe SOP revised 28 August 2020


COVID-safe SOP (MCL Facility)


Joel Gillespie is responsible for operations in the Materials Characterization Laboratory (MCL), Biological Instrument Cluster, and some individual pieces of equipment dispersed within the greater Department.   If you have questions about proper use, contact Joel at jrg68(at)


1.   Access to the MCL Facilities:

a.  For users housed outside of the Chemistry complex, access will be approved on a case by case basis.  Please email Joel at and carbon copy Pete Chambers to make your request.  We ask that requests are consolidated to the minimum number of users necessary to conduct ongoing research.

b.  Historically instrumentation is divided into two classes- those instrument reserved by users through FOM ( and those used on a walk-up basis. Walk-up instrumentation will now require FOM registration for use and will have logbooks associated with them. In other words, the walk-up category will be eliminated.

c.  When reserving instrumentation time on FOM users must also log into the room or room zone where the instrument is located. This prevents other users from logging into other instrumentation in the same area as you. Prominent signage will be posted in individual MCL labs illustrating how to access both the instrument and room zone and detailing required PPE and cleaning procedures. Signage will also be posted detailing concern reporting and infection reporting procedures. In addition, copies of these signs will be emailed to all users prior to allowing reservations of instruments. Each user will be required to sign and submit a statement indicating that they have read and understood the procedures of the laboratory.

d.  Reserving time for another researcher on FOM is never permitted. To aid in contact tracing, it is especially important that this rule be followed.

e.  All MCL labs will be locked and access will require a key (except 1118A which requires a PROX-card or ID card).

f.  Logbooks must be filled out at the start and end of every session where applicable.

g.  When using any of the MCL facilities, proper PPE must be worn at all times. During Phase I this includes facemasks. The use of latex or nitrile gloves and safety glasses is optional. Social distancing, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from the next closest person, must be maintained whenever possible. When not possible, interactions closer than 6 feet should be as brief and as few as possible. PPE will be provided in each laboratory except for safety glasses which must be provided by the individual user. Community safety glasses supplied for visitors will no longer be available due to high risk of infection transfer. PPE will be obtained from the DSS stockroom.

h.  There should be one (and only one) person per instrument, and you should not come in groups even if working together in the same lab.

i.  If you have not yet used the MCL facilities since release of the COVID protocols, discuss the protocols with Joel, review the SOP and confirm that you understand and will abide by these precautions.

Concerns or questions should be directed to Joel Gillespie (, 412-624-0312).


2.  Transporting Samples:

a.  While transporting samples or research materials, remember to follow safety protocols that are already in place, such as using secondary containers and using the freight elevator while transporting chemicals or reagents. More info can be found here:

b.  Immediately remove all samples or other materials from shared equipment space. Do not leave samples or waste in the shared areas when experiments or processing is complete.


3.  Basic requirements for COVID safe usage of the MCL facilities:

a. Wear a mask at all times.

b. Wash hands with soap and water before use (sinks are available in 311 CSC and 1118 CSC).

c.  Disinfect tool before AND after use with the supplied disinfectant

i.  Spray provided disinfectant on a paper towel and wipe off the keyboard, mouse, arm rest area of the desk and chair.

ii.  Make sure you dispose of paper towel inside the trash can.

iii. Wipe down any other surfaces touched while using equipment. Examples would include the load lock door of the XPS or the tools and chuck hold for the AFM.

d. Ensure that area surrounding the equipment is clear, clean, and disinfected.

f.  Wash hands with soap and water after use.


4.  Data Access and Processing:

The MCL maintains processing software on computers within the laboratory. The large number of different programs and their expense limits the ability of the facility to provide individual users with access to processing software. Users needing to process data should treat the processing computers as normal equipment subject to the same cleaning procedures, distancing protocols, and restrictions listed above. Users are also encouraged to contact the facility director to explore other options. In some cases temporary copies of software may be downloaded by the user to facilitate processing needs.

5. Shutdown:

If the University must shutdown the facility and access to the shared instrumentation, Joel is responsible for blocking access through FOM and shutting down the instruments properly.


New User Training

Individuals requesting training should do so by email and provide a small selection of dates and times that they are available. Typically, training is scheduled for 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM daily except for selected complex instruments which may require longer training times. The following rules apply to training:

a.  One and only one trainee is allowed per training session. Come alone at the scheduled time.
b.  Per EHS recommendation, a face shield along with a disposable face mask must be worn by both the trainer and trainee during the session as both may be closer than 6 feet during training.
c.  Trainer and trainee will both wash their hands before and after training in the closest available sink. In many cases this will be the closest public bathroom.
d.  Training samples are provided for trainees. Trainees should bring a notebook to take notes but should only bring samples if prearranged with the trainer.
e.  During training, instrumentation (including computers) may be operated by both the trainer and trainee.  Any equipment shared between the trainer and trainee will be disinfected between uses.  However, both the trainer and trainee will be required to wear gloves for the entire training period. Depending on the technique or instrument, gloves may be latex, nitrile, or vinyl though nitrile is preferred. Gloves will be provided by the MCL but trainees may bring their own gloves if desired. Proper glove type will be disclosed when training arrangements are finalized by the trainer.
f.  A portion of the training time will be dedicated to demonstrating to the trainee proper disinfection of the instrument and surrounding area. The trainer will be responsible for disinfection the instrument and surrounding area after training but the trainee will be expected to disinfect instrumentation when they collect data independently (supplemented by periodic disinfection by the facility manager).
g.  When possible, social distancing will be practiced when training on less complex instrumentation.

COVID shutdown and clean

Cleaning procedure for MCL instrumentation after it was found to have been recently used by a person who is diagnosed with a COVID infection.

a.  Notify all users by email that a given piece of equipment was used by a person who tested positive or is showing symptoms for COVID as required by the University of Pittsburgh Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

b.  Block scheduling and access to the equipment and the room in which it is located as required by the current EOC guidelines.

c.  Disinfect entirety of the instrument and its surrounding area by wiping every surface down appropriate disinfectant as required by the current EOC guidelines.

d.  Notify all users by email when the tool is available for use and make it available on FOM.




1208 zones diagram

311 Zones plan1118 Zone plan

141 Zones plan

139 Zones Plan

136 Zones plan

135 zones plan