Campus Safety

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Standard Operating Procedures for Laboratories

A. Chemical Procurement

  1. The decision to procure a chemical shall be a commitment to handle and use the chemical properly from initial receipt to ultimate disposal. Amounts or concentrations procured should be as small as practical. In general, individuals should purchase only the amounts expected to be used during the subsequent 6-12 month period.
  2. Chemical purchases must be authorized by the Chemical Hygiene Officer. For new chemicals, personnel initiating request of the material will be responsible for alerting those involved in handling the material as to any unique hazards that may be associated with receipt, handling, or storage.
  3. Recipients of chemicals will adhere to the following guidelines: 1) insuring that the labeling of the material is appropriate, 2) insuring that a MSDS is available, 3) placing the chemical into appropriate storage.

B. Chemical Storage

Proper chemical storage begins with purchasing the minimum amounts necessary. Minimized inventories provide safer workplaces, reduce the risks from spills, reduce disposal costs, and protect the environment.

  1. Carefully read the label before storing a hazardous chemical. The MSDS will also provide any special storage and incompatibility information.
  2. Chemicals in laboratories shall be stored in appropriate cabinets or on designated shelves. Chemicals should not be stored on the floor or on high shelves.
  3. Segregate chemicals by hazard classification and compatibility. Segregation is best achieved using: 1) physical barriers such as cabinets and plastic bins, and 2) distance. Do not store un-segregated chemicals in alphabetical order or incompatible chemicals in close proximity to each other.
  4. The following major classes of hazardous chemicals require segregation:                                                                                                      
    • Fire Hazards (Flammables & Combustibles)
    • Oxidizers
    • Corrosives
      • acids
      • bases
    • Highly Reactive Materials
    • Highly Toxic/Regulated Materials
    • Low Hazard Materials
     
    • Once separated into hazard classes, chemicals may be stored alphabetically

          

  5. Segregate compressed gases as follows:
     
    • Toxic gases
    • Flammable gases
    • Oxidizing and inert gases

  6. Minimize storage of chemicals at the lab bench or other work areas.
  7. Avoid exposure of chemicals to heat or direct sunlight.
  8. Flammables require an approved storage cabinet if more than 10 gallons are present at any one time.
  9. Restricted access is recommended for highly toxic chemicals to prevent unauthorized use.
  10. Stored chemicals must be examined at least annually under the direction of the laboratory supervisor for replacement, deterioration, and container integrity.
  11. Laboratory supervisors shall provide annual inventories of chemicals to the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

C. Chemical Handling

Each laboratory employee shall develop and implement work habits consistent with this CHP to minimize chemical exposures.

  1. General guidelines for the safe handling and use of all chemicals are:

    • Know the physical and health hazards associated with the chemicals you are using. Carefully read the label and Material Safety Data Sheet before using a chemical for the first time.
    • Use required personal protective equipment.
    • Avoid direct contact with any chemical. Wear disposable nitrile gloves to prevent skin exposure.
    • Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling any chemical and whenever you leave the lab.
    • Never smell, inhale, or taste a chemical.
    • Always use chemicals with adequate ventilation or in a chemical fume hood. Refer to the MSDS and/or standard operating procedure to determine what type of ventilation is needed.
    • Inspect equipment or apparatus for damage before adding a hazardous chemical. Do not use damaged equipment.

  2. Guidelines for the safe handling of corrosivity hazards are:

    • Eye protection and rubber gloves should always be used when handling corrosives. A face shield, rubber apron, and rubber boots may also be appropriate, depending on the work performed.
    • Never add water to acid. When mixing concentrated acids with water, add the acid slowly to water.

  3. Guidelines for the safe handling of fire hazards are:

    • Eliminate ignition sources such as open flames, hot surfaces, sparks from welding or cutting, and static electricity.
    • Store materials in NFPA approved flammable liquid containers or storage cabinets.
    • Ensure appropriate fire extinguishers are in the area where the procedure will be carried out.

  4. Guidelines for the safe handling of reactivity hazards are:

    • Ensure there are no extraneous materials in the area of an experiment which could become involved in a reaction.
    • Minimize quantities used during initial experiments to assess the levels of energy released and potential control problems.
    • Use shields to isolate materials if the reaction is potentially violent or explosive.
    • Do not expose any part of the body to potential injury. Personal protective equipment may include a face shield, heavy gloves, and a laboratory coat.

  5. Guidelines for the safe handling of toxic hazards are:

    • Conduct all procedures involving toxic materials in an operating fume hood or other suitable containment device.
    • Use personal protective equipment in accordance with recommendations given in the MSDS.
    • Wash hands and arms after working with toxic materials.

D. Chemical Labeling


  1. All containers in the laboratory shall be labeled. The label shall be informative and durable, and at a minimum, will identify contents and indication of hazard(s).
  2. Laboratory workers are encouraged to use NFPA or HMIS labels which provide simple, easy-to-recognize systems for quickly identifying the relative hazards of a material. Materials are ranked from 0 (least hazardous) to 4 (most hazardous) in the areas of health, flammability, and reactivity.
  3. All peroxide forming chemicals and explosive or shock-sensitive materials must be labeled with the date of receipt and opening. It is considered good laboratory practice to date all chemicals upon receipt.
  4. 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.
  5. The labeling program shall be periodically inspected by the laboratory supervisor or the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

E. General Laboratory Safety Principles


  1. Know the location and proper use of emergency equipment including fire extinguishers, fire alarms, eyewash stations and safety showers.
  2. Always be alert to unsafe conditions and actions and call attention to them so that corrective actions can be taken.
  3. Food and drinks are prohibited in laboratories.
  4. Bare feet are prohibited in laboratories.
  5. Dispose of broken glass in designated Broken Glass Containers. Do not dispose of hazardous materials or contaminated glassware in such containers.
  6. Dispose of needles, razor blades, scalpel blades, and other sharp materials in designated Sharps Containers.

F. Housekeeping

Laboratory safety is closely connected with laboratory cleanliness. It is the responsibility of each laboratory worker to maintain a clean work place.

  1. Each laboratory worker is directly responsible for the cleanliness of his or her work space, and jointly responsible for common areas of the laboratory.
  2. 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.
    • 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.
    • All floors, aisles, exits, fire extinguishers, eyewashes, safety showers, emergency disconnects, and other emergency equipment shall remain unobstructed.
    • All labels shall face 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 prudent waste disposal practices.
  3. The syllabus for each laboratory course may allocate a percentage of the total laboratory grade of each student based on the safety and cleanliness of the laboratory at the end of a semester. It is suggested that the instructor obtain another faculty member or the Chemical Hygiene Officer to assign this portion of the grade.

G. Emergency Contacts and Signs


  1. Emergency telephone numbers (e.g., 911) shall be affixed to every telephone.
  2. Telephone numbers of emergency personnel, laboratory supervisors and other workers as deemed appropriate shall be posted outside laboratories.
  3. Location signs for safety and emergency equipment shall be posted.

H. Sanctions for Non-Compliance

Unsafe activities are often the result of inattention, and appropriate communication is ordinarily the only action necessary to mitigate safety problems. This section lists the stronger recourses available when other actions become necessary.

  1. Either the faculty supervisor or the Chemical Hygiene Officer may remove laboratory access privileges of any student for behaviors deemed willfully unsafe or destructive.
  2. Sanctions for disobedience of CHP rules by students enrolled in a course shall include the possibility of expulsion from the course with a grade of F.
  3. The Chemical Hygiene Officer may immediately suspend laboratory activities deemed to be imminent and substantial dangers to students or employees. Consultations with the Provost and the respective department chairperson will subsequently be undertaken to determine the corrective course of action.
  4. All employees of the College are responsible for following the procedures and implementing the appropriate responsibilities of the CHP. Failure to do so is a serious breach of College policy and subject to disciplinary action which might include termination of employment.