Under Pennsylvania and OSHA laws, all employees have a right to know the potential hazards of the substances to which they are exposed.  Employees and students must receive education and training regarding hazardous materials prior to being assigned to work with them.

Laboratory Supervisors and Principal Investigators should assure that all laboratory workers are provided with information and training to ensure that they are apprised of the hazards of substances and equipment present in their work area.  This training is mandated by OSHA.  In fulfillment of part of this training requirement, the Laboratory Supervisor shall assure that all laboratory workers complete General Laboratory Safety (Chemical Hygiene) training provided by the EHRS Department prior to working in a laboratory, and biennially thereafter. However, graduate and undergraduate research students and teaching assistants should complete annual training.

A. The following topics are covered in EHRS's General Laboratory Safety (Chemical Hygiene) training:

  1. Key elements of OSHA's Laboratory Standard.
  2. Responsibilities.
  3. Chemical Hygiene Plan components, practices and standard operating procedures.
  4. Safety Data Sheets (SDS's) and labeling requirements.
  5. Chemical storage and transportation.
  6. Personal protective and safety equipment.
  7. Waste disposal procedures.
  8. Emergency procedures.
  9. The location and availability of known reference material on the hazards, safe handling, storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals found in the laboratory. This may include Safety Data Sheets and other reference sources.
B. Training and information must also be provided and documented by the Laboratory Supervisor or Principal Investigator and must be as specific as possible to the activities conducted in the laboratory. Training must be updated periodically and whenever new hazards or changes are introduced.

Ensure that laboratory-specific hazards are evaluated and then controlled by developing laboratory-specific written protocols (Standard Operating Procedures SOP's) and conducting training. A literature review should be used as a supplemental training tool and not as a substitute for laboratory-specific training and oversight. Training should include:

1. Potential hazards (both health and physical) posed by the hazardous substances, equipment and experimental conditions. Also, the safe handling procedures, safety precautions and the possible reactions that could occur.
2. The existence of SOP's and their applicability to the laboratory.
3. The communication of changes to procedures verbally (e.g., group meetings), and just as important, documenting these changes in the written standard operating procedures. Also, ensuring that laboratory staff and students are aware NOT to implement changes on their own. (e.g., changes to types and quantities of chemicals ordered and used, and especially reaction scale-ups, which merit additional prior review and precaution, etc.)
4. Signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory.
5. The selection and proper use of safety(use engineering controls, e.g., fume hoods) and personal protective equipment and clothing.
6. The proper waste disposal procedures specific to the materials being used in the laboratory.
7. Information on what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency (e.g., chemical spill, injury, exposure, or fire). Report and share incidents, near misses, and the lessons learned with researchers and your staff, and EHRS through the Laboratory Incident Report, so that information can be communicated to others working in laboratories on campus.

The location and availability of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (Laboratory Safety Manual).

Appropriate supervision and oversight of trained individuals must be provided to ensure procedures are understood and followed.

One Sample Approach to a Risk Assessment is to Answer these 5 Questions:

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