Chapter 15: Laboratory Standard (Hazard Communication Program)


In 1990, OSHA issued regulation 29 CFR 1910.1450, entitled “Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemical in Laboratories,” better known as the Laboratory Standard. This standard addresses distinctions between hazardous chemicals in the workplace and in the laboratory. The standard, although written to respond to employee interests, is mutually functional for protecting student laboratory participants. The goal of the Standard is to ensure that laboratory workers are informed about the hazards of chemicals in laboratories, and are protected from hazardous chemical exposures exceeding allowable limits (see OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits, 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table z-1). The goal is achieved through establishing, notifying workers of, and enforcing safe work practices in the laboratory through the implementation of a Chemical Hygiene Plan.


The Laboratory Standard applies to all individuals who work with hazardous chemicals in science laboratories.


This plan is intended to provide prudent practices guidelines and general procedures for the safe, laboratory use of chemicals.


The Department of Biological Sciences designates a qualified employee to serve as Chemical Hygiene Officer for all its laboratories. The Chemical Hygiene Officer is the primary liaison for laboratory chemical safety issues. The Chemical Hygiene Office works closely with UMW OEMS to ensure an optimal safety environment exists in the University laboratories.


OSHA, as referenced earlier, has established permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hundreds of chemical substances. The PEL is the maximum safe concentration of a particular chemical that can be inhaled by the average, healthy worker on a daily basis for a lifetime. The PEL is usually expressed as an 8-hour time-weighted average. If an exposure will be above the PEL for a particular chemical, laboratory workers must be protected. If the department has good reason to believe that exposure may exceed exposure limits, or if an employee or student requests it, exposure monitoring through air sampling must occur. Individuals who have been monitored will receive sampling results within 15 days of the conclusion of the sampling. Periodic Monitoring will also be conducted as needed.


Laboratory workers must be provided with certain information and training to become knowledgeable of the hazards present in their laboratories. The training should be provided at the time the laboratory assignment is made and prior to new assignments involving new exposure situations or variables. The Chemical Hygiene Officer, in conjunction with UMW OEMS and the Human Resources Training Coordinator will provide necessary information and training in laboratory safety.

  1. Information Needs
    1. The text/content of the OSHA Laboratory Standard.
    2. The location of and how to access the Chemical Hygiene Plan.
    3. The location of and how to access Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for Hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory to which the worker is assigned.
    4. Common signs and symptoms associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals in the laboratory.
    5. The location and availability of reference materials on the hazards, safe handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals in the laboratory, including SDS.
  2. Training Needs:
    1. Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence of or release of a hazardous chemical. This may include monitoring devices and familiarity with the appearance and odor of hazardous chemicals.
    2. The physical and health hazards of chemicals in the laboratory.
    3. The measures that workers can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including Personal Protective Equipment, safe work practices and emergency procedures.
    4. Medical Consultation / Examination: In cases where a significant exposure to a hazardous chemical has likely taken place, UMW provides for the worker to receive a medical consultation or examination.
      1. Significant Exposure: A significant will likely have taken place if:
        1. An individual develops signs or symptoms consistent with a hazardous chemical exposure
        2. Exposure monitoring reveals exposure levels routinely exceeding the OSHA PEL for the hazardous chemical in question
        3. A spill, leak, explosion, or other occurrence results in a likely exposure to a hazardous chemical.
      2. Physician Responsibilities: After obtaining the name of the hazardous chemical to which the worker has been exposed, and being provided a description of the exact conditions under which the presumed exposure occurred, the physician provide a written opinion to the worker and UMW:
        1. Providing the results of the examination
        2. Any recommended follow-up, if necessary


SDS received by the laboratory must be maintained by the Chemical Hygiene Officer and be accessible to all workers in the lab (s) during work hours.

Chemical containers must be labeled with the identity of the hazardous chemical, its chemical constituents, and must all include all hazard warnings associated with the chemical. Labels must not be removed, altered or otherwise defaced.



  1. Eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited in the laboratories.
  2. All chemicals should be considered hazardous, i.e., flammable, toxic, or corrosive unless they are known to be otherwise. Read labels closely. Consult with the instructor if necessary.
  3. Do not force glass tubing into dry corks or rubber stoppers. Lubricate the tubing with glycerin or water and introduce the glass gradually and gently. Always use a towel or cloth to protect your hands when you insert tubing into rubber. Otherwise, cuts can occur if glass is fractured.
  4. Place all hot glassware on a wire gauze to cool. Never hand hot glass to another person.
  5. Never work alone in the laboratory.
  6. Visitors are not permitted in the laboratory without the instructor’s prior permission.
  7. Permission must be gained from the instructor to work in the laboratory at times other than regularly scheduled periods.
  8. Horseplay of any kind is NOT permitted in the laboratories.
  9. Be cautious when lighting burners. Keep your hair and face away from flames and fumes.
  10. Always read the label on a chemical container before using it. Never return an excess of any chemical to its original container. If inspection of a chemical you are about to use looks like it has been contaminated or mislabeled, do not use and alert the instructor immediately.
  11. Keep your work area clean. Keep the balances clean. Always clean up spills and broken glass immediately. Alert the instructor and ask for assistance if you are unsure how to clean up a spill.
  12. Use proper safety equipment and procedures when transporting chemicals in the laboratory.
  13. Before beginning work in a laboratory which is unfamiliar to you, note the location of fire extinguishers, safety showers, fire blankets and eye wash stations.
  14. Always wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the laboratory
  15. Report all accidents to the instructor immediately.
  16. Only non-toxic, water soluble compounds may be disposed of in sink drains. All other chemicals must be disposed of in the labeled containers available in the laboratories. In order to facilitate proper disposal of these types of chemicals, they must be separated into categories and noted as such on the disposal inventory attached to each container. The appropriate waste container will be provided for each experiment. In general, organic wastes are separated by halogenated and non-halogenated; and inorganic wastes are separated into heavy metals, toxins and corrosives.
  17. UMW strongly recommends that long hair be tied back or otherwise constrained to prevent accidents around flames or from falling into chemicals.
  18. Sensible clothing should be worn in the laboratory. Shorts, sandals, other open toed shoes or bare feet are prohibited in the laboratory.
  19. Those who are pregnant should consult with their physician if they have concerns about chemicals they may encounter in a laboratory setting.
  20. Additional procedures may be required in specific laboratories or specific classes. They should be reviewed by the instructor prior to use of the laboratory.


  1. Always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes against impact and splashes associated with laboratory work.
  2. If you do happen to get a chemical in your eyes, wash the eyes immediately with flowing water from one of the eye stations available in the laboratories. The instructor can assist you if necessary. Washing may take upwards of 15 to 20 minutes to completely clear the eye affected. Do not rush washing the chemical from your eye(s).
  3. Do NOT wear contact lenses in the laboratory. Students and employees are cautioned particularly about the susceptibility of soft contact lenses to vapors.


  1. Never taste a chemical in the laboratory.
  2. Do NOT use your mouth to fill pipettes. Always use a suction bulb or other similar apparatus.
  3. Avoid breathing in fumes. Fume hoods are available to remove fumes from the air. Do NOT conduct work generating fumes if the laboratory hood is not working.


  1. Never point a test tube’s mouth toward yourself or others, especially if it has been heated.
  2. Always pour acid into water when preparing to dilute acid solutions. Doing it the opposite way can cause a reaction which might result in a boiling or popping effect which can result in contact with the skin.
  3. If corrosive acids, bases, or other chemicals come in contact with the skin, wash them off immediately with water. Summon the instructor for assistance if necessary.