Lab Safety Guide Logo

 

Workplace Safety

Each laboratory employee with the training, education and resources provided by supervision, shall develop and implement work habits consistent with Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) to minimize personal and coworker exposure to the chemicals in the laboratory.  Based on the realization that all chemicals inherently are hazardous under certain conditions, exposure to all chemicals shall be minimized. MSDS for chemicals used in each laboratory space must be readily available to employees.

General precautions shall be followed for chemical laboratory: 

- Skin contact with all chemicals shall be avoided. 
- All employees shall wash all areas of exposed skin prior to leaving the laboratory. 
- Mouth suction for pipetting or starting a siphon is prohibited. 
- Eating, drinking, smoking, gum chewing, or application of cosmetics in areas where laboratory chemicals are present shall be avoided.  These areas have been posted. Hands shall be thoroughly washed prior to performing these activities. 
- Storage, handling and consumption of food or beverages shall not occur in storage areas, refrigerators, glassware or utensils also used for laboratory operations. 
- Risk determinations shall be conservative in nature. 
- Any chemical mixture shall be assumed to be as toxic as its most toxic component. 
- Substances of unknown toxicity shall be assumed to be toxic. 
- Laboratory employees shall be familiar with the symptoms of exposure for the chemicals with which they work and the precautions necessary to prevent exposure. It is the responsibility of the laboratory supervisor to make this information available to employees through MSDS and other relevant sources.
- In all cases of chemical exposure, neither the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) of OSHA or the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) shall be exceeded. 
- Specific precautions based on the toxicological characteristics of individual chemicals shall be implemented as deemed necessary by the Chemical Hygiene Officer. 
- The intent and procedures of CHP shall be continuously adhered  to. 

Laboratory Equipment and Glassware

Each employee shall keep the work area clean and uncluttered.  All chemicals and equipment shall be properly labeled in accordance with CHP.  At the completion of each work day or operation, the work area shall be thoroughly cleaned and all equipment properly cleaned and stored. In addition, the following procedures shall apply to the use of laboratory equipment: 

- All laboratory equipment shall be used only for its intended purpose. 
- All glassware will be handled and stored with care to minimize breakage;  all broken glassware will be immediately disposed of in  the broken glass container. 
- All evacuated glass apparatus (vacuum system) shall be shielded to contain chemicals and glass fragments should implosion occur. 
- Labels shall be attached to all chemical containers, identifying the contents and related hazards. 
- Waste receptacles shall be identified as such. 
- All laboratory equipment shall be inspected on a periodic and replaced or repaired as necessary. 

Personal Protective Equipment

- Safety glasses meeting the ANSI Z87.1 standard are required for employees and visitors to the laboratory and will be worn at all times when  in the laboratory.  Contact lenses are prohibited in the laboratory, except as approved by the Chemical Hygiene Officer and supervisor. 
- Chemical goggles and/or a full face shield shall be worn during chemical transfer and  handling operations as procedures dictate. 
- Sandals, perforated shoes, sneakers and bare feet are prohibited.  Safety shoes, per ANSI 47 are required where employees routinely lift heavy objects. 
- Lab coats or plastic/rubber aprons should be worn in  the laboratory when caustic, toxic or hazardous chemicals are used.
- Appropriate chemical-resistant gloves shall be worn at all times when there may be skin contact with chemicals.  Used gloves shall be inspected and washed prior to reuse.  Damaged or deteriorated gloves will be immediately replaced.  Gloves shall be washed prior to  removal from the hands. 
- Thermal-resistant gloves shall be worn for operations involving the handling of heated materials and exothermic reaction vessels. Thermal-resistant gloves shall be non-asbestos and shall be replaced when damaged or deteriorated. 
- Respirator usage shall comply with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR  1910.134, and Polytechnic University’s Respiratory Training  Program. 

Personal Work Practices

- The  Laboratory supervisor must ensure that each employee knows and follows the rules and procedures established in this plan. 
- All employees shall remain vigilant to unsafe practices and conditions in the laboratory and shall immediately report such practices and/or conditions to the laboratory supervisor.  The laboratory supervisor must correct unsafe practices and or conditions promptly. 
- Long hair and loose-fitting clothing shall be confined close to the body to avoid being  caught in moving machine/equipment parts. 
- Use only those chemicals appropriate for the ventilation system as determined by the laboratory supervisor.
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to all chemicals by any route (inhalation, ingestion or skin contact.)
- Do not smell or taste any chemicals. 
- Encourage safe work practices in coworkers by  setting the proper example. Horseplay is strictly forbidden. 
- Seek information and advice from knowledgeable persons, standards and codes about the  hazards present in the laboratory. Plan operations, equipment and protective measures accordingly. 
- Inspect personal protective equipment (gloves, safety glasses or goggle, respirators, etc) prior to use, and wear appropriate protective equipment as procedures dictate and when necessary to avoid exposure. 

Labeling

- All containers in the laboratory shall be labeled.  This includes chemical containers and containers of used or waste chemicals.  The label shall be informative and durable, and at a minimum, will identify contents, source, date of acquisition, storage location and indication of hazard. 
- Portable containers shall be labeled by the  individual using the container. 
An example is a small bottle of a chemical to be kept for a reasonable period of time in a laboratory refrigerator or on a laboratory bench. 
- Exemptions for labeling requirements shall be made for chemical transfers from a labeled  container into a container which is intended  only for the immediate use of the employee  who performed the transfer.   Examples are the transfer of material into a graduated cylinder to measure volume or the use of a beaker or container to measure weight of a substance.
- The labeling process and practices  shall be periodically  inspected by the Chemical Hygiene Officer to  ensure that labels have not been defaced or removed. 

Criteria for Implementation of Control Measures

Air Sampling
- Air sampling for evaluating employee exposure to chemical substances shall be conducted periodically or as specified by specific codes  or regulations. 
- Upon addition of new chemicals or changes in control procedures, additional air sampling  will be considered to determine the exposures.  Conduct air sampling if there is  reason to believe that exposure levels for  regulated substances that require sampling  routinely exceed the action level, or in the absence of an action level, PEL.  Air sampling will be implemented when usage of highly toxic substances exceeds three times per week. It is the responsibility of the laboratory supervisor to see that such sampling is done in a timely manner.
- The results of air sampling studies performed  in the laboratory are maintained and recorded. 

Housekeeping
- Each laboratory worker is directly responsible for the cleanliness of his or her work space, and jointly responsible for common areas of the laboratory.  The Laboratory Supervisor is responsible for the maintenance of housekeeping standards. 
- The following procedures apply to the housekeeping standards of the laboratory: 
- All spills on lab benches or floors shall be immediately cleaned and properly disposed of.  Large spills will necessitate the implementation of the  Emergency Action Plan per OSHA 1910.38  and 1910.120. 
- The lab benches shall be kept clear of equipment and chemicals except those necessary for the work currently being performed. 
- The work area shall be cleaned at the  end of each operation and each shift. 
- All apparatus shall be thoroughly cleaned and returned to storage upon completion of usage. 
- All floors, aisles, exits, fire extinguishing equipment, eyewash stations, showers, electrical disconnects and other emergency equipment shall remain unobstructed. 
- Labeled containers should be placed so that the label faces front. 
- Chemical containers shall be clean,  properly labeled and returned to storage upon completion of usage. 
- All chemical wastes will be disposed of in accordance with the Polytechnic University waste disposal  plan  under the supervision of the Chemical Store Room Supervisor.

Safety and Emergency Equipment

- Telephone numbers of emergency personnel, supervisors and other workers as deemed appropriate are to be posted in laboratories and other designated areas.
- All laboratory personnel will be trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers when hired and annually thereafter.  Prior to the procurement of new chemicals, the Chemical Hygiene Officer shall verify that existing extinguishers and other emergency equipment are appropriate for such chemicals. 
- All employees who might be exposed to chemical splashes shall be instructed in the location and proper usage of emergency showers and eyewash stations.  The eyewash and emergency shower shall be inspected periodically by the laboratory supervisor.  These inspections  shall be in accordance with ANSI Z358.1 and  manufacturer's specifications.  Records shall be maintained. 
- Location signs for safety and emergency equipment shall be  posted in laboratories and other designated areas at all times.

Special Precautions 

When laboratory procedures change to require the use of additional classifications of chemicals (allergens, embryotoxins, reproductive toxins, carcinogens, flammables.), additional special precautions shall be implemented as deemed necessary by the Chemical Hygiene Officer.  Written permission from the Department Head and Chemical Hygiene Officer shall is required for all laboratory use of embryotoxins, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins and carcinogens.  All questions regarding the use of such materials should be addressed to the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

Working with Allergens, Neurotoxins, Embryotoxins and Reproductive Toxins
- Suitable gloves to prevent hand contact shall be worn when exposed to allergens or substances of unknown allergen activity. 
- Neurotoxins, embryotoxins and chemicals of known or suspected reproductive hazard will be handled only in a hood with confirmed satisfactory airflow performance and will require the use of protective equipment to prevent skin contact as prescribed by the laboratory supervisor and Chemical Hygiene Officer. 
- Neurotoxins, embryotoxins and known reproductive toxins will be stored in adequately ventilated areas in unbreakable secondary containers. Waste containers of such materials must be use secondary containment and be appropriately labeled. 
- The  Laboratory Supervisor, University Safety Officer and Chemical Hygiene Officers will be notified of spills and other exposure incidents involving allergens, neurotoxins, embryotoxins and reproductive toxins.  A physician will be consulted when appropriate. 

Working with High Toxicity
- Areas where these chemicals are stored and used must have  restricted access and have special warning signs. All containers should be labeled clearly with chemical composition, know hazards and precautions for handling.
- Only persons directly involved in the laboratory work and who have been advised of special precautions that may apply should have access to laboratories where highly toxic chemicals are handled.  Written permission from the Laboratory Supervisor, Department Head  and Chemical Hygiene Officer is required.  A copy of such documents shall be kept in the Departmental files.
Two people will always be present during work with these chemicals.
- Procedures involving highly toxic substances that can generate dust, vapors or aerosols must be conducted in a hood, glove box or other suitable containment device and will be trapped by scrubber or  HEPA filter, as determined by the Laboratory Supervisor in consultation with the Chemical Hygiene Officer.
- Properly selected gloves and long sleeves will be used.  Hands and arms will be washed immediately after working with these chemicals. 
- Laboratory workers must use appropriate face and eye protection to prevent ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption of toxic chemicals in case of unexpected events. Such personal protective equipment should be selected in consultation with the Laboratory Supervisor.
- Equipment used for the handling of highly toxic substances should be suitable isolated from the general laboratory environment. Laboratory vacuum pumps used with these substances should be protected by HEPA filters or scrubbers and vented into an exhaust hood.
- Any contaminated equipment or glassware will be decontaminated in the hood before removing  them from the designated area. 
- Transport of very toxic chemicals from one location to another should be planned carefully.  Samples should be carried in unbreakable secondary storage containers.  Personal protective equipment appropriate for the material should be worn.
- Spill control and appropriate emergency response kits should be kept nearby and laboratory workers should be trained in their use. 

Working with Flammable Chemicals
- Chemicals with a flash point below 93.3OC (200OF) will be considered “fire-hazard chemicals.” 
- Such substances must be handled in areas free of ignition sources.   Never heat fire-hazard chemicals with an open flame. Use an appropriate exhaust system such as a fume hood when transferring or handling flammables.
- Keep containers of flammables tightly closed at all times when not in use.
- Store flammables in Flammable storage cabinets in accordance with NFPA codes or in an explosion-proof refrigerator.  Use the smallest quantity of flammable substances consistent with need.  Consult NFPA manual 30 and manual 45 for additional information.

Working with Corrosive Chemicals 

Major classes of corrosives include mineral acids including, but not limited to  hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, nitric and sulfuric acids, strong bases including but not limited to metal hydroxides and ammonia, strong oxidizers including but not limited to hydrogen peroxide and strong dehydrating agents including but not limited to phosphorous pentoxide and calcium oxide.
- Personal protective equipment including both safety goggles and face shield, gloves know to be resistant, and a laboratory apron or laboratory coat shall be used when handling corrosives.
- Neutralizing agents such as sodium bicarbonate should be kept in the laboratory for use in case of spills.
- Store corrosive wastes by class separated from other chemicals and dispose of as hazardous chemical waste.

Working with Reactive Chemicals

A reactive chemical is one that is defined as such by the MSDS, and/or is identified as an oxidizer, a peroxide or explosive or is known or found to be reactive with other substances.
- Highly reactive substances should be stored separately from other materials.
- Personal protective equipment should be used by laboratory workers, including goggles and face shields and appropriate  gloves.
- Avoid exposure of highly reactive materials to light, heat shock and catalysts, consistent with MSDS information