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Lab Safety -
OSHA's Laboratory Safety Standard

OSHA NFPA Best Practices Guide
Free NFPA Diamond Guide

Written by Steve Hudgik

Lab safety brings up unique issues and concerns that typically do not exist in other types of workplaces.  To address this OSHA has created a standard for lab safety called “Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories” (29 CFR 1910.1450), commonly called the "Laboratory Standard." It requires a laboratory, where chemical manipulation generally involves small amounts of a limited variety of chemicals, to produce a Chemical Hygiene Plan. This plan must address the specific lab safety hazards and the lab's approach to mitigating those hazards.

The OSHA “Laboratory Standard” applies to all hazardous chemicals meeting the definition of “laboratory use” and having the potential for worker exposure.

Lab Safety - Overview of the OSHA Laboratory Standard

The Laboratory Standard applies to employers engaged in the laboratory use of hazardous chemicals. “Laboratory use of hazardous chemicals” is defined as the handling and use of chemicals in which all of the following conditions are met:

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  • Chemical manipulations are carried out on a “laboratory scale” (i.e., on a small scale such that they can be handled by one person)
  • Multiple chemical procedures or chemicals are used.
  • The procedures involved are not part of a production process, nor do they in any way simulate a production process.
  • “Protective laboratory practices and equipment” are available and in common use to minimize the potential for worker exposure to hazardous chemicals.

lab safety standard

Any hazardous chemical use which does not meet this definition is regulated under other OSHA standards. This includes other hazardous chemical use within a laboratory, such as chemicals used for building maintenance, production of a chemical for commercial sale, and quality control testing of a product.

Lab Safety - Chemical Hygiene Plan

Under the OSHA Laboratory Standard employers must develop a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP).  The CHP is essentially a lab safety plan that addresses all aspects of the OSHA Laboratory Standard. The CHP must cover every aspect of chemical procurement, storage, handling, as well as the safe disposal of chemicals.

The main elements of a Chemical Hygiene Plan include the following:

• Minimizing exposure to laboratory chemicals by establishing

    • standard operating procedures
    • requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • engineering controls (e.g., the use of chemical fume hoods, air handlers, etc.)
    • chemical waste disposal procedures
  • Establishes procedures, used when certain chemicals are in use, for monitoring the the lab environment for chemical levels that require action or medical attention.
  • Establishes procedures to obtain free medical care for work-related chemical exposures.
  • Specifies the means in for administering the plan.
  • Designates responsible persons for procurement and handling of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), organizing training sessions, monitoring employee work practices, and conducting an annual review and revision of the CHP.

    safety poster

Lab Safety - Labels and Signs

The use of visual communication through labels and signs is an important part of lab safety. Labels and signs provide a reliable means of communicating hazard information, and in some cases - such as with RTK labels - a required means of communicating important safety information.

Lab safety often requires custom labels and signs. The answer is to have a DuraLabel custom label printer on-hand. DuraLabel printers easily handle all types of laboratory labels and signs, from vial and slide labels, to RTK labels, to warning signs for doorways. Call 1-888-326-9244 and ask about special DuraLabel lab safety packages. You'll be getting the industry's best laboratory labeler, backed by the industry's best customer service. Call 1-888-326-9244 today. You'll be glad you did.

The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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