practices set out in various uniform codes, such as the International Building Code (IBC), the International Fire Code (IFC), and the National Fire Protection Association standards.1 For laboratory buildings where hazardous chemicals are stored or used, detailed requirements usually cover spill control, drainage, containment, ventilation, emergency power, special controls for hazardous gases, fire prevention, and building height. Some localities have initiated regulations aimed at increasing efficiency and sustainability in building design. These may become more common in the future, and laboratory designers may wish to consider these issues when planning new construction.

Building and fire codes also apply after construction has been completed. These codes are typically enforced by the fire authority having jurisdiction—usually the local fire marshal. As explained in Chapter 6, sections 6.F.5 and 6.F.7 these codes describe how flammables, reactives, and gases must be stored, and limit their quantities in fire control areas.

In addition, OSHA standards affect some key laboratory design and construction issues, for example, eyewashes, safety showers, and special ventilation requirements. Other consensus standards prepared by organizations such as ANSI and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers are relevant to laboratory design. It is not uncommon for various codes and consensus standards to be incorporated into state or federal regulations.


OSHA and EPA regulation of chemical use in laboratories is described below. The laboratory use of controlled substances, regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, is described in Chapter 10, section 10.E.4.1 Select agent toxins are regulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

11.C.1 OSHA Standards for Specific Chemicals

OSHA has developed comprehensive standards for several chemicals, which are listed in Table 11.2. To prevent exposure to personnel, these standards cover all aspects of the use of these chemicals. These standards are above those required by the Laboratory Standard and, in some cases, may require special signs, medical surveillance, and routine air monitoring of your workplace. For more information, see 29 CFR Part 1910 as well as in specific standards following section 1910.1000, such as the vinyl chloride standard, 29 CFR § 1910.1017, which prohibits direct contact with liquid vinyl chloride.

TABLE 11.2 Chemicals Covered by Specific OSHA Standards

1001 Asbestos

1002 Coal tar pitch volatiles

1003 4-Nitrobiphenyl (and 12 related carcinogens)

1004 α-Naphthylamine

1006 Methyl chloromethyl ether

1007 3,3′-Dichlorobenzidine (and its salts)

1008 bis-Chloromethyl ether

1009 β-Naphthylamine

1010 Benzidine

1011 4-Aminodiphenyl

1012 Ethyleneimine

1013 β-Propiolactone

1014 2-acetylaminofuorene

1015 4-Dimethylaminoazobenzene

1016 N-Nitrosodimethylamine

1017 Vinyl chloride

1018 Inorganic arsenic

1025 Lead

1026 Chromium VI

1027 Cadmium

1028 Benzene

1044 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane

1045 Acrylonitrile

1047 Ethylene oxide

1048 Formaldehyde

1050 Methylenedianiline

1051 1,3-Butadiene

1052 Methylene chloride

Each standard is in 29 CFR § 1910.XXXX, where XXXX is the section number that precedes the chemical name:

Other OSHA standards setting forth PELs apply to the extent that they require limiting exposures to below the PEL, and, where the PEL or AL is routinely exceeded, the Laboratory Standard’s provisions (described below) require exposure monitoring and medical surveillance (see Appendix A, sections (d) and (g)).

If you use these chemicals routinely, even for short periods of time, you should have your workplace evaluated by your EHS officer to ensure that your work practices and engineering controls are sufficient to keep your exposures below the OSHA-specified limits. Because of their common use in campus laboratories, the specific standards for formaldehyde (used as formalin for preservation of tissue samples), benzene, and ethylene oxide are of particular concern.

11.C.2 The OSHA Laboratory Standard

In 1990, OSHA promulgated its Laboratory Standard (Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in


1In 2003, the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc., the International Conference of Building Officials, and the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. formed the International Code Council. This body now publishes both the IFC and the IBC among other documents.

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