Chemistry Department Chemical Hygiene / Lab Safety Program
The purpose of the Chemistry Department’s Chemical Hygiene / Lab Safety Program is to provide information and recommendations for recognized work practices to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors from physical and health hazards associated with chemicals in a laboratory setting. The State of Colorado has adopted the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Laboratory Standard which is applicable to students and employees of Fort Lewis College who work with chemicals. This standard serves as the basis for this program. The program will be reviewed on an annual basis. You may review the program during normal business hours in the Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) office in room 227 of the Education Business Hall, or view a copy on the EHS web site.
The Chemical Hygiene / Lab Safety Program is divided into the following sections:
- Chemistry and Laboratory Safety; components of the program
- Physical and health hazards; routes of exposure and control methodologies
- Basic rules of safe laboratory procedures
- Personal protective equipment, fume hoods, and chemical handling and storage
- Training and information
- Exposure monitoring and medical consultation
- Emergency planning and response
Chemistry and Laboratory Safety
A) General Principles for Work with Laboratory Chemicals
1) It is prudent to minimize all chemical exposures. Because few of the chemicals you will use are free of hazards, general precautions for handling all laboratory chemicals must be followed, with specific safeguards followed for more hazardous chemicals. Skin contact with chemicals should be avoided at all times.
2) Avoid underestimation of risk. Always err on the side of caution. You should plan your work based on the assumption that all substances are toxic, and that all substances of unknown toxicity are toxic. Mixtures should be considered more toxic than their most toxic component. Chemicals with low toxicity should still be treated in a manner that prevents exposure. Special hazards equal special precautions combined with special handling techniques.
3) Provide adequate ventilation. Always work in a hood when using toxic chemicals, thus minimizing airborne materials escaping into the laboratory.
4) Follow the chemical hygiene / lab safety program. This program is designed to minimize chemical exposure and related laboratory hazards. The purpose is to have students and lab worker follow the recommendations on a day-to-day basis, employing continuous improvement techniques. It is not to be viewed as a short-term process.
5) Exposure should be limited to levels published by OSHA’s PELs and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist’s (ACGIH) TLVs. These levels should not be exceeded in the laboratories at Fort Lewis College if the information in this document is understood and procedures followed as described.
B) Chemical Hygiene / Laboratory Safety Responsibilities
1) President of Fort Lewis College. The President has ultimate responsibility for chemical hygiene and laboratory safety at the college and must provide continuing support for the college’s programs.
2) Faculty and the Departmental Chemical Hygiene Officer. These individuals play a crucial role in the support and efficiency of this program. Their responsibilities include the following:
- Work with other administrators and departments to further develop and implement appropriate chemical and laboratory policies and practices
- Supervise procurement, use and disposal of chemicals used in their labs
- Participate in audits and inspections
- Help students develop appropriate behaviors relative to chemical and laboratory safety
- Maintain proficiency in legal requirements regarding regulated substances
- Follow continuous improvement process relative to this program
3) Laboratory Supervisors. Whether student, staff or faculty, has the overall responsibility for chemical safety in the laboratory, including the following;
- Ensure that students and lab workers know and follow the chemical hygiene rules, that protective equipment is available and maintained in good working order and that appropriate training has been provided and documented.
- Provide daily housekeeping inspections including periodic inspection and testing of emergency equipment.
- Provide constant, positive reinforcement of safe chemical and laboratory safety behaviors by students and lab workers.
- Keep current on legal requirements concerning regulated materials
- Determine appropriate type and kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) for general chemistry needs as well as for more hazardous chemical exposures. Insure PPE training is documented and used by students as required.
- Insure facilities and training for use of any new materials or hazards is adequate.
4) Students and Lab Workers.
- Take responsibility for planning and conducting each task or lab according to the appropriate directions and proper lab safety protocols identified by the laboratory supervisor.
- Learn, develop and put into practices the safe work practices taught in the classroom or laboratory.
C) Laboratory Facility
1) Usage. The type of work conducted and its scale must be appropriate to the physical facilities available and to the quality of the ventilation in the lab. Microscale amounts of chemicals should be utilized whenever possible, as should “Green” processes.
- The general laboratory heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) system should not be relied upon for protection from toxic or hazardous substances released into the air.
- Each hood should be provided with a constant monitoring device that indicates adequate hood performance. Work with substances that are toxic should not be performed unless it is inside a properly operating hood.
- No modifications to the existing hoods or HVAC system should be made unless thorough testing indicates student and lab worker protection from potential airborne will continue to be adequate. Documentation must be completed before work is allowed.
- Fume hood efficiency should be measured and documented at least annually and more frequently as the situation warrants.
D) Components of the Chemical Hygiene Plan
1) Chemical Procurement, Distribution and Storage.
- Before a substance is received information on proper handling, storage and disposal should be known to those who will be involved. A safety data sheet (SDS) and product specification sheets must be secured and evaluated before the material is purchased. Once delivered, the container must be labeled to adequately identify the contents and hazards.
- Toxic substances must be segregated in well-identified areas and provided with local exhaust ventilation. Highly toxic chemicals should be stored separately and in secondary containers. Stored chemicals should be inventoried on an annual basis and examined for deterioration of the container and chemical.
- Stockrooms should not be used for preparation, repackaging or disposal of chemicals.
- When dispersing or transporting chemicals a secondary container must be used.
- The amount of chemicals to be used should be as small as possible. Storage of chemicals on bench tops or in hoods in not allowed. Avoid exposure of the chemicals to direct heat or sunlight.
2) Environmental Monitoring. In most laboratory situations the need for environmental monitoring is not indicated. Special monitoring may be conducted during hood repairs or if highly toxic chemicals are being used.
3) Housekeeping, Maintenance and Inspections.
- Cleaning of the laboratories should be conducted on a routine basis. Floors should be kept clean and ordinary waste receptacles emptied before they reach capacity. Bench tops and hood surfaces should be cleaned after each laboratory session.
- Inspections should be conducted daily on an informal basis. Formal walk around inspections should be conducted at the beginning and middle of the semester.
- Safety showers should be tested at least monthly and eyewashes should be flushed on a weekly basis. The testing should be documented and kept for at least one year.
- Work areas, hallways and points of egress must be kept clear of obstructions and not used as storage locations. Access to exits, emergency equipment and utility controls must never be blocked.
4) Personal Protective Equipment and Apparel
- Each laboratory must select the type of PPE that protects the students and lab workers. This includes gloves, disposable gloves, aprons, chemical splash goggles, face shields and perhaps disposable coveralls.
- Students and lab workers must be instructed how to operate the eyewash and safety shower.
- Any other protective device or measures deemed necessary by the lab supervisor will be provided and appropriate training provided and documented.
5) Signs and Labels
Prominent signs and labels of the following types shall be posted:
- Emergency telephone numbers must be posted, including Fort Lewis Police, Student Health Center, Physical Plant Services, Lab Supervisors and Department emergency contact.
- Identity labels showing contents of containers and appropriate hazards
- Location signs for emergency eyewash and showers, fire extinguishers, first aid equipment (if provided) and where food and beverage are permitted and not allowed.
- Warnings at locations of unusual hazards or equipment.
6) Chemical Spills and Accidents
- A written emergency response plan should be written and reviewed with students at the beginning of each semester. It should include procedures for hood failure, chemical spills – both small and large, evacuation, lock-down, accident reporting, fire emergencies and drills.
- The alarm system should be explained and the required response reviewed and practiced.
- Evacuation routes should be identified, and reassembly points identified.
- All accidents, including near-miss incidents and sharps-related events must be reported to the laboratory supervisor and an accident report completed and forwarded to Human Resources.
7) Information and Training
- The goal is to inform and then train all students and lab workers about the risks and hazards in the laboratory, both from a chemical and physical basis. How to respond to an emergency situation or accident is an essential part of the training.
- Every student and lab worker should know the location and proper use of available protective equipment and apparel. Full time employees should know every procedure applicable in this regard, including how to use a fire extinguisher. First aid training, CPR and AED training is offered and full time employees should avail themselves to attend the training and maintain their certifications.
- Training should be conducted on a regular basis in conjunction with the academic calendar. Training should be part of a continuous effort, and not just an annual or singular event.
- Information on training topics should be readily available to students and lab workers.
8) Waste Disposal Program
- The goal of the waste disposal program is to insure that Fort Lewis College follows the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s rules and regulations relative to the handling, storage and disposal of laboratory hazardous wastes. A properly managed program assures minimal harm to students, employees, visitors, the general public and the environment.
- Fort Lewis College has published guidelines and procedures relative to the how hazardous waste should be collected, segregated, stored, and transported. This information is posted on the college’s internet and can be located on the EH&S website.
- Unlabeled containers of chemicals and solutions should be disposed of promptly via our established procedures
- Disposal via floor drains or sinks is strictly prohibited.
- Disposal via hood evaporation is strictly prohibited.
- All chemicals for disposal should be handled by the EH&S department.
- Accident reports and near-miss incidents reports should be retained for three years in the department. Copies of each report are required to be on file in Human Resources.
- Assistance with completing an accident report can be coordinated with the EH&S or Human Resources departments.
- Inventory and usage records for high-risk or highly toxic chemicals should be kept as specified by State or federal law.
Physical and Health Hazards, Routes of Exposure & Control Methodologies
- Physical Hazards
1) Combustible Liquids – any liquid or mixture with >1% or more of a liquid, with a flashpoint at or above 1000 F but below 2000 F.
2) Compressed Gas – a gas or gas mixture with an absolute pressure exceeding 40 p.s.is at 700 F, or exceeding 104 p.s.i. at 1300 F, or a liquid having a vapor pressure exceeding 40 p.s.i. at 1000 F as determined by the ASTM D-232-72, a standard of the American Society of Testing and Materials.
3) Explosive – a chemical that causes a sudden, almost instantaneous release of gas, pressure, and heat when subjected to sudden shock, high temperature or pressure.
4) Flammable –
- Aerosol – a material that can produce a flame or flashback from a valve opening
- Gas – any gas at ambient conditions that will cause a flammable mixture with air in concentrations below 13%
- Liquid – any liquid, or mixture with 1% or more of a liquid, with a flash point below 1410 F.
- Solid – a material that is liable to cause fire through friction, contact with moisture, spontaneous reaction, or retained heat, or which can be readily ignited and burns with enough persistence or violence to cause a serious health hazard.
5) Organic Peroxides – an organic compound with a bivalent O-O structure, which may be considered a peroxide derivative with one or both of the hydrogen atoms replaced with an organic molecule. They present dangerous fire and explosion risks; many are strong oxidizers.
6) Oxidizer – a chemical that initiates or supports combustion of other materials, causing fire by itself or by the release of oxygen or other gasses.
7) Pyrophoric – a material that will ignite spontaneously in air at or below 1300 F.
8) Unstable – any material which will vigorously decompose, polymerize, condense, or will become self reactive when exposed to conditions of shock, pressure or temperature.
9) Water-reactive - a material which can react with water or steam to produce a gas which is either toxic or flammable.
- Health Hazards
1) Carcinogen – a material which causes or potentially causes cancer according to the International Research on Cancer, or is listed as such in the National toxicology Program Annual Report on carcinogens.
2) Corrosives – chemicals that cause visible destruction of, or irreversible alterations in, living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact.
3) Irritants – chemicals which are not corrosive, but which cause reversible inflammatory effects on living tissue at the site of contact.
4) Mutagen – a material that damages chromosomes.
5) Sensitizer – a chemical, which will cause an allergic reaction in a substantial number of exposed people.
6) Target Organ Effects – consist of the following list of examples:
- Cutaneous hazards: damage the skin
- Eye hazards: damage the eye
- Hematopoietic toxins: damage the blood and/or blood forming organs
- Hepatotoxic: damage the liver
- Nephrotoxic: damage the kidneys
- Pulmonary toxins: damage the lungs
- Reproductive toxins: affect the fetus
7) Teratogen – a material that causes birth defects
8) Toxic – a chemical with an oral lethal dose of 50 – 500 mg/kg, a cutaneous lethal dose of 200 – 1000 mg/kg, or a lethal concentration in air of 200 – 2000 ppm.
9) Highly toxic: a material with an oral lethal dose of <50 mg/kg, a cutaneous lethal dose of <200 mg/kg, or lethal concentration in air at <200 ppm.
- Factors Affecting Toxicity
1) Dose – is the amount of exposure to a chemical. A small dose is usually a lesser concern than a large dose. For most chemicals there is a level of exposure below which no adverse effect is likely to be observed.
2) Toxicity – chemicals vary widely in how toxic or poisonous they are. Exposure to small amounts of highly toxic materials can be a greater danger than exposure to large amounts of less toxic chemicals.
3) Duration and frequency – One-time exposures of short duration are of less concern that multiple exposures of long duration.
4) Synergistic effects – when two or more chemicals present an exposure the result may be more hazardous than adding the two effects together.
5) Acute and chronic effects – acute exposure may result in an immediate response, such as spilling a caustic on the skin. Chronic effects result from long term exposure which may span years.
- Routes of Exposure
1) Inhalation - is the most common route of entry into the body. Materials inhaled can include gases, vapors, mists, sprays, dust particles and fibers.
2) Skin contact – chemicals can injure the skin by direct contact or can be absorbed through the skin to cause systemic effects.
3) Ingestion – usually occurs via contaminated hands. Washing prior to eating, drinking, applying cosmetics or smoking will reduce the possibility of contamination.
4) Injection – occurs during accidental contact with sharps or broken glassware. A secondary source of injection is compressed air or high pressure liquid or gases.
- Control Methodologies
1) Engineering controls – reduce or eliminate hazards through methods of isolating the hazard, work practice changes, substitution of less hazardous materials and redesign of a process. Using a chemical fume hood or glove box are examples of engineering control.
2) Administrative controls – are actions taken to reduce exposure via personnel actions. Examples include posting of warning signs, restricting access to authorized personnel, working off-shifts to reduce exposure, job rotation and job sharing.
3) Personal protective equipment (PPE) – is considered the last line of defense to chemical exposure. Examples of PPE include splash goggles, hearing protection, gloves, aprons and respiratory protection.
Basic Rules of Safe Laboratory Procedures
Accident reporting – all accidents and near miss events must be reported to the laboratory supervisor. Investigation and reporting information can be found on the EH&S website.
Call 911 or 9-911 from a campus phone in emergency situation.
Avoidance of exposure – learn, develop and practice safe lab habits, and always avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals by any route. Do not smell or taste chemicals. Always open containers of volatile chemicals inside a working chemical fume hood.
Chemical spills – if a chemical is spilled on the skin, flush the area for at least 15 minutes. Call 911 or 9-911 from a campus phone if the spill is large, or if assistance is needed. Small spills may be cleaned up using the laboratory spill kit. Large spills necessitate evacuation of the lab and perhaps the building.
Children in labs – children should not be in laboratories where hazardous materials or equipment are in use.