ON OSHAS LABORATORY STANDARD
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF OSHAS LABORATORY STANDARD?
- The purpose of the Laboratory Standard is to protect laboratory
employees from harm due to chemicals and hazardous substances while they are working in the laboratory.
HOW DOES OSHA DEFINE A HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL?
- OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as a substance for which
there is statistically significant evidence, based on at least one scientific
study, showing that acute or chronic harm may result from exposure to that
chemical. Basically, this broad definition applies to all, or almost all,
of the chemicals typically used in laboratories.
WHERE IS OUR CHEMICAL HYGIENE PLAN (Laboratory Safety Manual)
||McNeil Science & Technology Center, room #223
||Central Stockroom, Griffith Building, Room B1
||All USciences Laboratories
||Safety Web Page
Any employee or student who works in a laboratory
must read the Laboratory Safety Manual!
WHAT IS AN MSDS, AND WHERE ARE THEY LOCATED?
- An MSDS is a material safety data sheet. [In the near future, OSHA will require these to be called Safety Data Sheets (SDS)]. There must be an
MSDS for every chemical in your lab and they must be available to all employees
and students, on all shifts. An MSDS will provide useful information about
the chemical. These should be readily available and are located in your lab inside binders and in the Griffith
Hall Central Stockroom (Griffith Hall, room #B-10). When the MSDS's are not easily observed in your laboratory, post a sign to indicate their location. (For example, when located inside a cabinet.)
- The USciences web-based MSDS program (Chem Watch-Chem Gold III) and other MSDS
websites are available at the EHRS site The Chem
Watch program may be accessed from any University computer without needing to log
in. This program provides MSDS's for chemicals, drugs, commercial products
and infectious substances in 30 different languages.
WHAT DO I DO IF THERE IS A CHEMICAL SPILL IN MY LAB?
Anticipate spills by having the appropriate safety equipment
on hand. Be Prepared! Flammable spills can ignite in only a minute
or two. Know the properties of your spill equipment. Some chemicals are not
recommended to be used with certain spill absorbents, neutralizers or suppressants.
Additional spill control equipment is also stored in the hallway spill cabinets.
If a spill occurs, immediately alert personnel in the area and
do what is necessary to protect life. Warn others to stay out of the
area and to avoid walking nearby. Secure the area.
- If it is a small spill, your laboratory
supervisor or research advisor is responsible for cleaning up the spill or
making sure it is cleaned up properly. (Whenever unsure how to handle
a spill, contact the EHRS Department at X8925, X8843, or X3141).
- Use an absorbent material that will neutralize the
spill if it is hazardous or corrosive, or suppress the vapors if it is a flammable,
- If the spilled chemical is flammable, extinguish flames and
all other sources of ignition (such as brush type motors) if safe to do so.
- Always wear the proper personal protective equipment when
cleaning up spills. At a minimum, gloves, goggles, booties, and a lab coat.
Know what type of gloves or booties that should be used for the chemical,
- Confine or dike the spill if possible, to keep the area involved
smaller, decrease the evaporation rate, and to protect floor drains. Absorbents
and spill socks may be placed around drains, as needed.
- Use Spill X-A to neutralize acid spills. Use Spill X-C to
neutralize caustic spills. When using neutralizers, the reaction must be complete,
before clean-up. (no popping or hissing) Use Spill X-S and vapor barrier absorbent
sheets to suppress flammable vapors. (Fires start very quickly in a laboratory
when flammable vapors are not controlled). Also, know the quantities of chemicals
that you are working with, so that you have enough neutralizer or suppressant
on hand. Follow the directions on the kits or on the containers.
- Maintain fume hood ventilation (if applicable).
- Place all spill clean-up material and residue into yellow
hazardous waste bags or an appropriate container. You may use a dustpan and
brush to scoop the spill residue into the container. Decontaminate the area
with soap and water after clean-up.
- Seal bags or containers securely. Use strong tape on bags,
and label the containers/bags with the chemical name(s) or as "spill
debris". Bring the bag to the central stockrooms for disposal. Make sure
someone is there to accept it.
- The EHRS Department must be informed of the spill. (X8925,
X8843, or X3141) Complete a Laboratory
- Use the mercury spill kits placed in each
laboratory for mercury spills. Read the instructions enclosed in the kit.
Use the mercury vapor suppressant spray or powder available from the Stockrooms
to suppress mercury vapors. However, it is best to replace all mercury thermometers
with alcohol filled, citrus-filled, digital, etc. Most laboratories have done
- If the spill is large, flammable, toxic,
or a threat to personnel, students or the public, notify the EHRS Department
(X8925, X8843 or X3141) or Public Safety (X7000)
immediately. Ventilate or maintain fume hood ventilation, if possible.
Be prepared to report:
The name of the chemical spilled. (spell the chemical name)
The amount of the chemical spilled.
Location of the spill.
Whether it is still leaking and/or is it contained.
Any noticeable properties. (i.e., fuming)
If anyone has been injured or exposed.
If the spilled chemical is flammable, extinguish
all nearby flames and sources of ignition (such as brush-type motors), if safe
to do so.
Confine or dike the spill on your way out, if
possible. Protect floor drains or other means for environmental release. Absorbents
and spill socks may be placed around drains, as needed.
Evacuate the area, warn others to leave and
stay out of the area. Avoid touching the spill, walking in it, or breathing
it, whether it has an odor or not. (Secure area, post a warning sign
if it is safe to do so.)
Remain on the scene, but at a safe distance,
to receive and direct EHRS/Public Safety personnel when they arrive. You
are needed to relay essential information, and possibly receive important information.
See the Chemical
Spills section of the Safety Manual for more information.
WHAT DO I DO IF THERE IS A FIRE IN MY LAB?
- If it is a very small fire, alert the people
in the laboratory and activate the alarm. (Call or
designate someone nearby to call the fire department, 911. Never
delay the arrival of help. Notify Public Safety at 215-596-7000).
Smother the fire or use the fire control equipment in the lab to put out the
fire, if you can do so without endangering yourself, and only if you
have received University fire extinguisher training. Then notify Public
Safety and your supervisor. [Always stay on the exit side of a fire. Extinguishers
only last for seconds!] However, most importantly, your job is to
get out safely, close the door behind you, and pull the fire alarm. (Call
If a small quantity of liquid in a beaker catches fire, immediately
cover the beaker with a watch glass or place a larger beaker over it. Keep
these nearby when working.
- If it is a larger fire, remember R.A.C.E.
||Remove people from
immediate danger.(Alert people)
||Pull the nearest
fire alarm. From a safe location, call 911 and call Public
Safety. (215-596-7000 or use emergency call boxes).
||Close all doors.
Smoke can only be contained if drafts are removed and all fire doors kept
closed. Prevent smoke from entering exit pathways. You probably
will not be able to see your hand in front of your face. Smoke kills before
the fire does. Never wedge or prop open a fire door. (i.e.,
at stairwells, exits, across hallways)
||Exit or evacuate
the building. Move away from the building to your pre-determined designated
area. Do not use elevators.
Relay important information to emergency personnel.
The Fire Department will not fight a laboratory fire if they are concerned
about the hazards. Special hazard information you may know is essential. Be prepared. Know fire emergency procedures.
HOW DO I PREVENT A FIRE WHILE WORKING IN A LABORATORY?
- Turn off all electrical equipment and gas jets. Never leave
hot plates or bunsen burners on and unattended. (There have been many fires
from unattended hot plates, bunsen burners, etc.)
- Use the smallest quantities of flammable solvents practicable.
The invisible vapor can travel over 100 feet to find an ignition source and
flash back. Most laboratory fires are due to the use of flammable
- Store stock quantities in flammable storage cabinets. Too
many bottles in a laboratory or a fume hood add fuel to a fire.
- Always separate flammable solvents from sources of ignition
(i.e., hot plates). Hot plates are a hidden source of ignition that have been
responsible for many laboratory fires. Therefore, when working with flammables,
use explosion-proof hot plates or other non-sparking heating methods. Never
use a bunsen burner in any area where flammable solvents are handled.
- Always work with flammable solvents in a hood. This will
dilute the concentrations of flammable vapors and gases below explosion limits.
- Make sure that all electrical wiring is in good condition.
No cracks, fraying, or exposed wires.
WHAT DO I DO IF I EXHIBIT ANY SIGNS OR FEEL ANY SYMPTOMS WHILE
WORKING WITH A CHEMICAL? OR IF I HAVE ANY TYPE OF ACCIDENT IN THE LABORATORY?
There may be times when employees or supervisors suspect that an individual h as been exposed (i.e., contact, inhalation) to a hazardous substance to a degree and in a manner that might have caused harm to the individual. Whenever an employee has an exposure incident, or develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous substance, the employee must be provided an opportunity to receive an appropriate medical examination.
Employee Accidents/Hazardous Substance Exposures
||Any employment-related injury or illness to faculty or staff is to be reported immediately to the employee's supervisor, including those related to hazardous substance exposures.
||If it is an emergency, call
911 and Public Safety (X7000). If Public Safety transports
the employee to the hospital, someone other than the Public
Safety Officer (co-worker, supervisor, etc.) must accompany the injured employee into the medical facility.
||Do not move a seriously injured person unless
they are in further danger.
||In the event of a hazardous substance exposure, do what is necessary to prevent further injury
or illness. (i.e., flush skin or eyes with copious amounts of water
for approximately 15 minutes, leave the area and get fresh air for an
inhalation exposure). Also, someone should forward the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to the medical facility.
||Supervisors must complete Human Resource's Supervisor's Accident Investigation Report as soon as possible after the accident and forward it to the Human Resources Department. If an employee refuses medical treatment, their signature must be documented on Human Resource's Supervisor's Accident Investigation Report.
||Laboratory incidents (i.e., injury, hazardous substance exposure, fire) involving employees, student or visitors, must also be documented on a Laboratory Incident Report. Principal Investigators or Laboratory Supervisors must complete this form and forward it to the EHRS Department within at least 5 days of the incident.
Student and Visitor Accidents/Hazardous Substance Exposures
- Students must notify their instructor or resident director of all injuries or illnesses occurring at the University, including those related to hazardous substance exposures. The incident must then be immediately reported to Public Safety (X7000) so that it can be documented properly. If a student refuses medical treatment, their signature must be documented on Public Safety's Incident Reporting Form.
- Visitor accidents or incidents must also be immediately reported to Public Safety.
- If it is an emergency, call 911 and Public Safety at X7000. If Public Safety transports a student to the hospital, someone other than the Public Safety Officer (i.e., fellow student, instructor) should accompany the student into the medical facility.
- Do not move a seriously injured person unless they are in further danger.
- In the event of a hazardous substance exposure, do what is necessary to prevent further injury or illness. (i.e, flush skin or eyes with copious amounts of water for approximately 15 minutes, leave the area and get fresh air for an inhalation exposure). Also, someone should forward the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to the medical facility.
Any student who is working for the University, and their injury or illness occurs during the performance of their duties, will be covered under the University's worker's compensation carrier. Therefore, Human Resource's Supervisor's Accident Investigation Report should be completed, and procedures followed, as required under the "Employee Accidents" section.
See the Accident
Reporting section in the Safety Manual for more information.
WHAT DO I DO IF I GET SPLASHED WITH A CHEMICAL?
Check the MSDS for what to do in an emergency before you
work with the chemical. However, as a general rule of thumb, flush
contaminated area with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.
For eye splashes, use eyewash to flush with water for at least 15 minutes.
Then follow the procedure of the preceding question. [Also, if you see someone
in this situation, help them walk over to an eyewash, turn it on for them, and
hold their eyes open if necessary. This is because most people are in pain and cannot open
their eyes or see, once they are splashed with a hazardous chemical or substance.]
Use safety showers, or another appropriate washing facility,
if there is a skin contamination. Remove contaminated clothing so that the
chemical does not remain against your body. Pay attention to possible accumulation
in your shoes. A good idea is to use fire blankets to cover yourself if
you need to disrobe. Also, extra clothing is available int he stockrooms.
Flush eyewashes once a week for a minimum of 3 minutes to prevent
the build-up of amoeba and bacteria. These microorganisms
build up in the stagnant water when not flushed often enough. This will
prevent eye infections, which can lead to blindness, during its use in an
emergency. Flush! Flush! Flush!
See the Chemical
Contamination section in the Safety Manual for more information.See the Radioactive
Contamination section in the Radiation Safety Manual for more information.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY CLOTHING IS ON FIRE?
- It is always best to stop, drop, and roll wherever
you are, and cover your face with your hands. Rolling smothers the fire. Don't
- Safety showers may also be used to cool the burn or suppress the flame, when close by. In addition, someone may use a fire blanket or coat to help
suppress the flames. But, never wrap someone up in a fire blanket (it creates
a chimney effect) or keep the blanket against the body too long. (Burns may
PELS AND TLVS ARE OFTEN FOUND ON AN MSDS. WHAT ARE
- PELs are permissible exposure limits.
These are the regulatory quantities that nearly all workers may be repeatedly
exposed to day after day, without adverse effect. Because of wide variation
in individual susceptibility, a small percentage of workers may experience
discomfort from some substances at concentrations at or below the PEL or TLV.
PEL's are enforceable by law. (OSHA)
TLVs are threshold limit values.
Their definition is the same as above, however they are recommended
limits by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
(ACGIH). TLV's are reviewed with some regularity and, therefore, may
be more up-to-date than PEL's.
HOW DO WE STORE AND TRANSPORT COMPRESSED GAS CYLINDERS?
- They need to be secured at all times while storing
or transporting. Chain them, strap them, or keep them secured in
a cylinder cart in an upright position at all times.
- Protective caps must always be in place, except when cylinders are connected
- They are big and heavy, so handle carefully. Watch your feet,
toes, fingers, etc. Always transport on cylinder carts, whether empty or full.
- If a cylinder or valve becomes damaged, the tremendous pressure
inside may suddenly be released, causing the cylinder to become a dangerous
and powerful missile. Therefore, never let them topple over.
- Do not ride in the elevator with a liquid nitrogen cylinder. Have someone waiting at the floor level that it is being sent. Post a sign on the cylinder to prevent individuals from entering the elevator.
IF I TRANSFER A CHEMICAL TO A SECONDARY CONTAINER, HOW SHOULD
I LABEL IT?
- You must label the new container with a copy of the manufacturer's
label or at least the full chemical name and general information on the physical and health hazards. [No
abbreviations or structural formulas are allowed. Except for small quantities
of compounds synthesized in the laboratory. However, these must have labels
that will not fall off. Written in permanent ink should be the researcher's
name and the chemical or structural formula].
- All chemicals in the lab must be labeled properly. Do not
forget your non-hazardous substances, too. You are not there 24 hours a day,
responders need to know if something is not hazardous, too.
of Secondary Containers, under the Hazard Communication Program for more
HOW SHOULD I LABEL AND STORE MY CHEMICAL WASTE CONTAINERS?
- Use polyethylene containers whenever possible. Glass bottles
can easily break. Always use chemical/hazardous waste tags to
label your waste containers as the material is being collected. Tags must
be used because EPA requires that hazardous waste be labeled as "hazardous
waste". (Tags and containers are available in the Central Stockroom.)
All components of the waste must be identified with the chemical names. No
abbreviations or chemical/structural formulas are allowed. If it
is a mixture, include the appropriate percent by volume, when you have that
- Waste must be tagged and labeled in your laboratory
at all times.
- Look for an area in your laboratory or room that can be designated
as your waste storage area. (More than one designated area is allowed.) Signs
with a list of some reminder procedures must be posted. (Call the
EHRS Department at X8925 if you need a sign.)
- Waste containers must be kept closed at all times
unless adding or removing waste. (No parafilm allowed, no storing
wastes in open beakers, and funnels must be removed after adding waste. However,
the sealable funnels attached to bottles are acceptable, if closed.) The EPA considers
an open waste container a serious violation.
- If waste bottles have collection tubes in place (i.e.,
from laboratory instruments) place a hole in the bottle cap JUST large enough
for the effluent tube. This will allow you to keep the collection
tube in place, even if the instrument is not running. Also, store
this waste container in a secondary container. If there is not a
small hole in the cap, make sure the tubing is removed and then the container
sealed with the cap as soon as you are no longer adding waste to the container.
(Special caps with holes are available in the Griffith Hall Central Stockroom.)
- All waste containers must be stored in secondary
containers (tubs) in your laboratory and also when waste is stored near drains.
Stsore your waste in a posted and designated waste storage area. Use our Waste Storage Area signs that are available in the EHRS Department.
Use separate tubs to separate incompatible wastes.
- Full waste containers, no matter what size, must be dated
and then transferred to the Central Stockrooms within 3 days of that date.
(Bring the waste to the stockrooms if you have had proper waste handling training.)
Leave the date field on the tag blank and only add the date when the container
is full. However, make sure that once it is dated, it get moved to the stockroom
within the 3 days.
- Unless approved by EHRS, disposal of hazardous chemicals
by way of the sanitary sewer system is not permitted.
- Keep sinks clear of beakers, flasks, bottles, etc. that contain
chemicals, or look as if they container chemicals.
- Make sure there are no dusty, rusty, crusty, expired, unclaimed,
or abandoned chemicals, or old peroxide-former and reactive
chemicals in your area. These will be considered waste-like by the EPA and
if not tagged, labeled, sealed and stored as waste, they will be in violation
of the regulations. Make sure beakers and flasks in your laboratory that contain
residual materials are cleaned out or sealed and labeled properly with chemical
names. These may also be considered waste-like by the EPA.
- Check containers weekly to make sure that they are in good
condition, free from deterioration, and not leaking.
- Containers must be compatible with the waste stored within
them. (i.e., Never put corrosives in metal containers or ethers in clear bottles.) Also, always try to store waste in plastic containers rather than glass, if compatible.
- Make sure shelving and storage areas are not crowded, unsafe
- Make sure everyone in your laboratory is thoroughly aware
of waste handling procedures relevant to their responsibilities and has completed
annual Laboratory Safety Training.
These waste labeling and storage procedures are required
by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is inspecting Universities
and issuing large fines for non-compliance. If this list of procedures is followed,
your laboratory should be in compliance with EPA's waste regulations.
See the Labeling
Guidelines under the Chemical Waste section in the safety manual for more
WHAT ARE THE PROPER METHODS FOR TRANSPORTING CHEMICALS THROUGHOUT
Individuals transporting chemicals must be familiar with the
material's hazards and know what to do in the event of a release or spill. Hazardous/chemical
substances must be attended to at all times while being transported.
Transport chemicals in:
||Carts with sides on each shelf, that are high
enough to retain the containers.
||Cart wheels must be large enough to prevent
the carts from being caught in floor cracks, door and elevator thresholds.
(Always use carts when transporting more than one container, large or heavy
||Rigid outside containers. (i.e., sturdy
box or plastic tub)
||Original outside shipping containers. (packaging)
Transport all chemicals using the container-within-a-container
concept. This will shield them from shock during any sudden change
or movement. Never carry the glass bottles by the hole at the neck. That is not the purpose of the hole. It can break off or the bottle can knock against a hard surface. Use the rubber buckets.
Check to make sure that all containers or bags are sealed
tightly (tighten caps) and not leaking before transport. Leaking containers
must not be transported.
Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Safety glasses, lab coats and impermeable gloves are some of the PPE that should
be worn if hazardous chemicals might splash on skin or eyes, if spilled during
Incompatibles may not be transported in the same secondary container.
Use an unoccupied elevator for moving hazardous substances between
Never transport hazardous waste across Woodland
Avenue. There are waste storage areas in both the Griffith Hall
and McNeil Science and Technology Center Central Stockrooms.
Rather than transporting materials across Woodland Avenue, large
quantities (4 liters or greater), and smaller quantities, whenever possible,
should be ordered through the Griffith Hall or the Science and Technology Center
Central Stockrooms and delivered to the buildings in the original outside shipping
If transporting materials across Woodland Avenue, chemicals
and hazardous substances must be sealed (tight screw fitted caps), labeled,
and placed upright in an un-breakable container. (If it is difficult to label
each small tube/vial, the outer container may be labeled.) The container must
be packed with absorbent material so that the contents inside cannot move, bang
against each other, and so that the absorbent will absorb the contents if all
were to leak.
When transporting hazardous chemicals on carts across the trolley
tracks, it is recommended to have 2 people in attendance to prevent tipping
and to prevent the wheels from getting caught.
If hazardous substances must be transported off-campus, contact
EHRS for proper shipping instructions. These must be packaged, labeled, marked and shipped properly according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and can only be done by trained and certified shippers. Anyone wishing to ship materials on their own or who is shipping frequently (i.e., once a month or more) must first receive the required training and certification. Contact EHRS. See Shipment of Biological Materials Procedures. See Transportation of Hazardous
Chemicals for more information.
IF I COMPLETED EHRS's LABORATORY SAFETY TRAINING CLASS LAST YEAR, DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE THIS
AGAIN THIS YEAR?
Faculty, staff and students working in a laboratory MUST complete EHRS's laboratory safety training prior to working in a laboratory, and biennially thereafter. (Classroom and on-line training is available.) However, it is recommended that student workers complete EHRS's laboratory safety training annually.
EHRS's laboratory safety training is not a substitute for the laboratory-specific training required by Faculty, Principal Investigators and Laboratory Supervisors within the laboratory. Faculty, Principal Investigators and Laboratory Supervisors are responsible for providing and documenting initial training and information on the specific hazards, substances, equipment, safety techniques and precautions, PPE, and waste disposal and emergency procedures. This training must be updated periodically and whenever new hazards or changes are introduced.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
Awareness is the most fundamental rule of chemical safety. Keep
the following guidelines in mind when handling chemicals.
- Know and be aware of the chemical hazards, as determined
from the MSDS's, labels, your laboratory advisor and other appropriate references.
- Know and be aware of appropriate safeguards for using that
chemical, including personal protective equipment. Know how to
- Wear appropriate eye
protection at all times.
- Know the location and proper use of emergency equipment.
(eyewashes, showers, have spill control equipment available in the laboratory) These
should never be blocked by anything or cluttered. (eyewashes, showers,
fire extinguishers, and have spill control equipment available.)
- Know proper personal hygiene practices. Wash yourself well
before leaving the laboratory, use a non-irritating surfactant and water.
(i.e., soap and water) Always wear a cotton lab coat when working in the laboratory,
and do not wear it outside of the laboratory.
Synthetic lab coats can melt against your body in a fire situation.
- Know appropriate procedures for emergencies, including fires,
evacuation routes, spill clean-up procedures, hazardous substance exposures,
and accidents. Your laboratory advisor must discuss these emergency
procedures with you. Contact the EHRS Department if you have any questions.
- NEVER work alone in a laboratory. Someone should
be working with you. See the Safety Manual for the policy on Working
Alone in Laboratories, for the "Buddy System" procedure and
the procedure for notifying Public Safety.
- All chemical and waste containers must be labeled and sealed
- Wash promptly whenever a chemical has contacted the skin,
regardless of corrosivity.
- NEVER eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics
in the laboratory.
- Do no sniff chemicals to test them.
- Always use chemicals with adequate ventilation or in a chemical
- Work areas should be kept clean and free from clutter. Also,
put chemicals away when not in use.
ALARA- Keep all chemical
exposures As Low As Reasonably Achievable.
There are few laboratory chemicals without hazards. Therefore, take precautions
for handling all the chemicals that you work with.
If anyone has any additional questions, please
do not hesitate to contact the EHRS Department (X8925)