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How departments, labs and centers should get ready

Friday, December 31, 1999 and Monday, January 3, 2000 are Institute holidays. Business operations will end at the close of business on Thursday, Dec. 30 and will not resume until Tuesday morning, Jan. 4.

Prepare your department, lab or center (DLC) for Y2K by doing the following:

  • Give some thought now to preparing for the Y2K weekend. Consider contingency planning to protect your experiments and research, and to prevent potential problems.
  • Review and verify that the Emergency Action Plan for your DLC is up to date.
  • If you have not yet done so, please answer and return the three questions asked in the Y2K Contingency Planning Survey (bright yellow card), which will be sent to you if you've requested a supply of the emergency notification (green) cards.
  • Be sure to provide the Safety Office with the name and contact information for your unit's Y2K transition coordinator.
  • It may be safest to curtail (if possible) the more hazardous experiments during the transition weekend, as safety systems and emergency response resource capabilities may be stressed.
  • Determine what level staffing is necessary, and who the personnel will be.
  • Determine if the personnel will actually be on duty or on call.
  • Ensure that your MIT "green cards" are up to date with the appropriate contact names and phone numbers, and that they are properly displayed on the doors of your laboratory.
  • The "green card" emergency contact list for laboratories has been updated to reflect the transition into the year 2000. New cards are neon green in color. It is essential that all DLCs review the contact names listed on the existing cards, and transfer or update the information onto the new card and copy the Safety Office.
  • Forward a copy of the "green card" to the Safety Office.
  • Evaluate any and all continuous processes for failure risks and potential problems.
  • Conduct an inventory of supplies and reagents, and stockpile reasonable amounts (110 percent recommended) for critical operations.
  • Consider whether your lab needs to acquire dry ice if you suspect storage issues related to hazardous materials or potentially infectious materials.
  • Solicit the help of your chemical hygiene officer, safety coordinator or emergency action plan coordinator in conducting a walk-through of all key areas before the close of business on Thursday, Dec. 30.
  • Call for hazardous waste pickup ahead of time.
  • Check the supplies and materials in your spill kits.
  • Store all hazardous materials properly and ensure that all containers are closed or sealed.
  • Verify that processes that can be shut down for the weekend have been shut down.
  • Check and close any open windows.
  • Close shutters on lab hoods.

If you intend to have staff in on duty for Y2K, we suggest your DLC:

  • Provide them with hand lights with batteries
  • Test any fixed and portable monitors and detectors and provide backup batteries
  • Provide them with a pre-arranged action plan and list of contacts internal to the department and others available at MIT
  • Consider and plan how you will rotate staff throughout the entire weekend

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.

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