When you think of a lab, you may think of a person wearing goggles and a white jacket feverishly working with a triangular shaped beaker while steam radiates from the top. However, even though many children’s cartoons seem to portray this same type of image, the truth is that labs generally come in all shapes and sizes and don’t always feature a “mad scientist” looking to create the next superpower. Labs aren’t just for “creating” chemical reactions or new inventions, in fact labs can be found in industrial, clinical, and academic settings and generally just deal with the same use of specific hazardous chemicals daily. One thing to remember though is that safety is a top priority in a lab setting. Many labs feature strict zero-tolerance rules when it comes to safety. Some of the chemicals and materials utilized in labs are highly dangerous and are capable of causing serious bodily injury when caution is not exercised, which is why it is important to take the appropriate safety precautions when working within a lab setting.
OSHA Lab Safety Standards
Just as OSHA provides many safeguards and standards used throughout business organizations, they also provide helpful safety standards when it comes to lab safety. The OSHA safety standard that addresses lab safety is the 29 CFR 1910.1450. It is within this lab standard that all safety practices regarding work with hazardous chemicals are outlined. Some common safety practices contained within this standard include a limit of 400 substances for industry exposure, only small quantities of hazardous chemicals may be used, and protective practices and equipment must always be followed and used. Furthermore, production of chemicals is strictly prohibited under this standard. If all safety guidelines are followed and a business does qualify under the OSHA lab standard, that business must create a CHP.
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What is a CHP?
A CHP or Chemical Hygiene Plan has been required by OSHA since 1990, and is a plan that is created by a business to ensure that specific safety guidelines are in place and being followed. The CHP is a written document that is extremely detailed and involves instructions regarding the procurement, storage, handling, and disposal of chemicals. The main objective of a CHP is to ensure that the proper steps are taken to warrant employees’ safety while on the job or while working in a lab. The use of specific equipment should also be outlined in the CHP, such equipment may include lab coats, gloves, air exchangers, chemical fume hoods, and other personal protective gear.
Lab Safety Counts!
When it comes to the safety of employees while working in a lab, it is better to be safe than sorry. Careless mistakes and accidents can happen anywhere, however, when they happen in a lab setting they tend to be much more detrimental as hazardous chemicals are very dangerous. It’s critical that all labs working with hazardous substances and materials follow the guidelines set in place by OSHA, there is a reason for the guidelines and it is to protect employees and visitors from injury when in a lab environment.
- Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals – 1910.119
- Lab Safety Symbols
- EPA: Tighter Chemical Restrictions Underway
- OSHA Compliance Counts – Auto Industry
- Chemical Safety in the Workplace and SDS (Safety Data Sheets)