The OSHA Laboratory Standard defines a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) as “a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace.” “Where hazardous chemicals as defined by this standard are used in the workplace, the employer shall develop and carry out the provisions of a written Chemical Hygiene Plan.” The CHP is the foundation of the laboratory safety program and should be reviewed and updated, as needed, on an annual basis to reflect changes in policies and personnel. A CHP that is facility specific can assist in promoting a culture of safety to protect employees from exposure to hazardous materials.

Topics included in a CHP are

1.   individual responsibilities for chemical hygiene within the organization (see Boxes 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3),

2.   emergency preparedness and facility security issues,

3.   personal apparel and PPE,

4.   chemical management,

5.   laboratory housekeeping,

6.   standard operating procedures,

7.   emergency action plan (EAP) for accidents and spills,

8.   safety equipment,

9.   chemical waste policies,

10.   required training,

11.   safety rules and regulations,

12.   facility design and laboratory ventilation,

13.   medical and environmental monitoring,

14.   compressed gas safety,

15.   laboratory equipment,

16.   biological safety, and

17.   radiation safety.

Determining what belongs in the CHP for a given laboratory should be the result of conversations between the Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO), the director of the laboratory, and laboratory personnel. The laboratory director and the individuals performing the research are responsible for following safe practices, and they are the people most familiar with the work being performed. However, they are less likely to be familiar with all relevant regulations, standards, and codes than the CHO, and they may benefit from assistance in identification and assessment of hazards within the laboratory. Thus there must be communication across the groups to ensure that the CHP is complete and that it contains no irrelevant information (e.g., information on biological safety in a laboratory that only works with inorganic materials).


Safety rules and regulations are created to protect laboratory personnel from unsafe work practices and exposure to hazardous materials. Consistently following and enforcing the safety rules in order to create a safe and healthful laboratory environment in which to work will help encourage a culture of safety within the workplace. What follows is a description of laboratory safety rules, but these will not cover every contingency. Part of the culture of safety is communication and discussion about safety hazards within the laboratory, so that new concerns can be addressed as quickly as possible.

2.C.1 General Safety Rules

Below are some basic guidelines for maintaining a safe laboratory environment.

1.   To ensure that help is available if needed, do not work alone if using hazardous materials or performing hazardous procedures.

2.   To ensure that help is available in case of emergencies, laboratory personnel should not deviate from the assigned work schedule without prior authorization from the laboratory supervisor.

3.   Do not perform unauthorized experiments.

4.   Plan appropriate protective procedures and the positioning of all equipment before beginning any operation. Follow the appropriate standard operating procedures at all times in the laboratory.

5.   Always read the MSDS and the label before using a chemical in the laboratory.

6.   Wear appropriate PPE, including a laboratory apron or coat, at all times in the laboratory. Everyone, including visitors, must wear appropriate eye protection in areas where laboratory chemicals are used or stored.

7.   Wear appropriate gloves when handling hazardous materials. Inspect all gloves for holes and defects before using.

8.   Use appropriate ventilation such as laboratory chemical hoods when working with hazardous chemicals.

9.   Contact the CHO or the EHS office if you have questions about the adequacy of the safety equipment available or chemical handling procedures.

10.   Know the location and proper use of the safety equipment (i.e., eyewash unit, safety shower, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, fire blanket, emergency telephone, and fire alarm pulls).

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