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Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Lab Safety

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 18, 2009 10:30:46 AM

Laurie de Laski

1. The OSHA Standard for regulating hazardous chemicals in research and development laboratories is: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories (29 CFR 1910.1450). The standard does not apply to production or QA/QC labs. Please refer to last week’s post for specific requirements of this standard.

2. Proper chemical handling and storage needs to be maintained in labs, including: appropriate spill control methods, separation of incompatible materials, flammable storage, chemical waste storage, dating of dangerous or short shelf life materials.

3. Hazard Assessments should be performed on new or highly hazardous operations or tasks. Basic lab procedures and controls may not be sufficient for some processes or chemicals.

4. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) should be written for all lab practices. SOPs should include control methods, such as the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used. SOPs can also used as part of the Chemical Hygiene program for R&D labs.

5. Chemical Fume Hoods must be available, maintained, and used properly. Hoods must be 100% exhausted and the type of hood is dependent on the chemicals and volumes to be used. Large equipment should not be placed in hoods, but should be provided with alternative local exhaust ventilation. Hood should be monitored and ventilation rates maintained within 20% of the approved face velocity.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be selected based on the Hazard Assessments conducted and should address all potential exposes to chemicals, infectious agents, or physical hazards (UV, lasers, sharps, etc.). A lab coat, safety glasses and exam-type nitrile gloves may be acceptable for small potential splashes of low hazard chemicals and biologicals, however, larger quantities, high hazard materials, or hazardous operations require additional PPE.

7. Emergency Equipment must be available and well maintained. This includes: spill kits, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, eye wash stations, emergency showers, and PPE. Emergency equipment should be inspected and/or tested at least monthly.

8. Cleaning and decontamination of lab surfaces and equipment should be conducted on a regular schedule. Surfaces, like lab benches and floors, with a high potential to have spilled chemical or biological materials, should be decontaminated at the end of each shift or immediately when contaminated. Other surfaces to consider are computer keyboards, mouse, cabinet and door knobs, equipment (including buttons and doors), and other surfaces that are handled, perhaps with gloves, during normal operations. These surfaces should be cleaned and decontaminated periodically.

9. Special hazards (radiation, lasers, and highly hazardous chemicals) require special controls and procedures. These special hazards should always have a specific SOP to address the additional controls needed, including: training of users and awareness of others in the lab, signs/warnings, special PPE, emergency equipment.

10. Training of lab workers is essential to control hazards and reduce accidents. Lab operations change frequently and it is important for the worker to understand the basics of hazard identification and control in addition to the specifics of the chemical, physical, and biological hazards they may be exposed to in the lab. Though the lab environment tends to be clean, there are many hazards and potential injuries that can occur, including life threatening ones. For example, the recent death of a post-grad student in a lab that spilled a highly flammable chemical on her clothes, and died of her burn injuries.
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Topics: OSHA, Personal Protective Equipment, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Lab Safety & Electrical, Occupational Training, Lab Safety

Top 10: Chemical Hygiene Standards

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 11, 2009 9:16:44 AM

Top Ten Things You Need to Know about the Chemical Hygiene Standard

Laurie de Laski

1. The OSHA Standard for regulating safety in research and development laboratories is: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories (29 CFR 1910.1450). The standard does not apply to production or QA/QC labs (see definition in #9).

2. The employer must develop and maintain a Chemical Hygiene Plan for each lab

3. The employer must designate a Chemical Hygiene Officer (an individual or group of individuals responsible for implementation of all requirements of the lab standard)

4. The employer must provide a formal training program for all employees that will work in R&D laboratories, to be provided prior to initial assignment AND whenever a new chemical, hazard, or task is introduced.

5. Training should include a review of the Chemical Hygiene Plan, location of MSDS’ and reference materials, chemical use and hazard information, standard operating procedures and emergency procedures, chemical labeling system, and proper storage.

6. An Up-to-date inventory maintained for all hazardous materials must be maintained

7. Hazardous Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be maintained and all employees must know the location of MSDS' and related reference material

8. All chemical containers must have an appropriate label based on the labs labeling/identification system

9. Workplaces covered by the laboratory standard are determined by their conformance with the laboratory use and laboratory scale criteria, as defined in the standard terms as those operations involving:

  • use of chemicals in relatively small quantities and multiple chemical procedures

  • chemical containers of such a size that can be easily and safely handled by one person

  • small scale research procedures (investigative scale), and not production processes (industrial scale)

  • use of protective laboratory practices and equipment (e.g., fume hoods)

10. R&D Lab facilities may have other support operations (shipping/receiving, warehouse) where the OSHA Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200 applies.
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Topics: OSHA, General Industry H&S, H&S Training, HazCom, Hazardous Materials, Lab Safety & Electrical, MSDS, Occupational Training, Lab Safety, hygiene standard

Top 10 Things to Know About Respiratory Protection & Fit Testing

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 28, 2009 9:18:19 AM

Kevin Zeller

1. OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.134 details the requirements for a Respiratory Protection Program.

2. A Respiratory Protection Program is mandatory if any employee is required to wear any type of respirator during the course of their job.

3. The establishment and maintenance of a Respiratory Protection Program is the responsibility of the employer and must of: a written program, employee training, fit testing’ and medical surveillance.

4. All employees who will be issued respiratory protection must be medically cleared to wear a respirator before fit testing and donning a respirator

5. Only respirators which have been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should be used

6. Fit testing for respirators is done to determine the correct size respirator for the employee.

7. Fit testing is required for all positive and negative pressure tight fitting facepieces.

8. Fit testing can be accomplished by using either a qualitative agent (eg Bitrex) or quantitatively (eg., PORTACOUNT®) with a probed face piece.

9. Fit testing must be conducted: prior to initial issuance of a respirator; when a different facepiece is used; when an employee’s physical changes may affect facepiece fit; and annually thereafter.

10. Employees must conduct a user seal check each time they wear a respirator to assure they have donned and adjusted the facepiece correctly.
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Topics: NIOSH, OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Fire Safety, Respiratory, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish, EMT, Fit Testing

Want a New Facility in Compliance with EHS Regulations and Accepted Practices?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Apr 7, 2009 9:58:22 AM

Get an EHS Design Expert at the Table!
Paula Kaufmann - CIH

I recently read an article titled “Implementing Safety during Design: a Case Study” in the March 2009 edition of AIHA publication, The Synergist. The authors discuss how incorporating safety systems or measures in the design phase of a construction project can result in large cost savings for the overall project budget. Studies have shown that implementing safety during the planning phases of a project, compared with after construction costs, have a 1:10,000 ratio. This equates to $1 pre-construction costs versus $10,000 post-construction abatement. The authors focus on safety concerns following the guidelines established by The Institute for Safety through Design (established in 1995 by the National Safety Council's Business and Industry Division).

As an industrial hygienist, I have often been frustrated when working on remedies for minimizing exposure to chemicals, immediate safety concerns, chemical storage and waste handling concerns after the occupancy of new laboratory facilities. Construction design planners rely heavily on architects that create beautiful layouts, but often fail to incorporate the fire safety, hazardous material handling and life safety issues that are detailed in NFPA 45: Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code®. The design planners and architects frequently look to the local fire department or permit authorities to approve the plans. These groups may be well versed in commercial building codes, but often are not experts in the potential hazards present in a laboratory operation. The costs of retrofitting a new facility to meet NFPA guidelines and OSHA standards can be staggering. The “take away” is to get an EHS professional involved in the upstream design process. Often cost of another “expert” is discouraged by the planners. Then again, studies (and our experiences) have shown that not getting the right experts at the planning table can be “penny wise but pound foolish”.

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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, EPA, H&S Training, Hazardous Materials, Compliance, Occupational Safety, TSCA & R.E.A.C.H., TSCA, Lab Safety & Electrical, Fire Safety, R.E.A.C.H.

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