Laboratory Safety and Chemical Hygiene
Laboratory safety encompasses several topics – occupational exposure to chemicals in laboratories, bloodborne pathogens, medical surveillance, and occupational exposure monitoring. It is, however, limited in scope to laboratories where small quantities of chemicals are used (quantities that can be handled and manipulated by a singe person.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1450
Keys to compliance for supervisors
- If employees are working in a laboratory setting, and have the potential for exposure to a hazardous chemical in amounts that routinely exceed the action level, an exposure monitoring program must be implemented. Exposure monitoring consists of an initial medical measurement (baseline) for the presence of the chemical or its metabolites in the employee, and periodic repeat monitoring to determine if biological levels of the chemical have increased. Exposure monitoring typically requires assistance from medical professionals.
- Employees must be notified of the results of all exposure monitoring
- When certain hazardous chemicals (such as designated carcinogens and other extremely hazardous chemicals) , the laboratory must include engineering controls, such as fume hoods, to contain the material.
- Disposal of all hazardous chemicals must be done in the manner described under Hazardous Wastes Management.
- Each employee working with a hazardous chemical must be trained in the specific hazards of the chemical, precautions needed to minimize exposure, and steps to be taken if exposure occurs.
- Laboratory safety must encompass fire and life safety, electrical safety, and other occupational safety topics
Frequently asked Questions
Q. What is an “action level”?
A. An “action level” is the specific amount of a chemical, as defined by OSHA, which initiates a medical monitoring or exposure monitoring program if an employees’ exposure exceeds that amount.
Q. How can I determine the hazards associated with a specific chemical?
A. The container label will provide some information; the Material Safety Data Sheet must provide information on the chemical’s hazards, ways to minimize exposure, and steps to be taken if employee exposure occurs.