This page applies to you if you work with potentially hazardous chemicals in any physical state and in any type of setting, including hazardous chemicals generated as part of a process (e.g., welding fumes). Handling of hazardous chemicals obviously poses risk of occupational injury. In recognition of this risk, OSHA established the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) and the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in
Laboratories Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450). Copies of these standards are available on the OSHA web site (www.osha.gov) or from EHS. These standards exclude the following:
While the standards differ in their technical details, the conceptual approaches are similar enough that UNL has established nearly identical requirements for laboratory and non-laboratory spaces with respect to facility considerations, chemical acquisition, compatible storage, chemical hazard information/communication (Safety Data Sheets, labeling, employee training), and hazard controls (engineering and administrative controls and personal protective equipment). These common requirements are discussed below.
The content of this page forms the foundation for the Hazard Communication and Chemical Hygiene Plans required by the OSHA standards. Supervisors must supplement this page with the following information/instruction:
The fundamental elements of safe chemical use regardless of the work area occupancy classification (laboratory or non-laboratory) are: appropriately designed, operated, and maintained facilities and equipment; engineering controls (such as appropriate ventilation); administrative controls (including training and procedures); and personal protective equipment. These elements are highlighted in the EHS SOP, General Guidance for Chemical Ordering, Receipt, Distribution, Use & Storage, and are summarized below:
Like any other workplace, a chemical use area must be designed and equipped for safe operation. The UNL Design Guidelines for Facilities Construction (http://fmp.unl.edu/fpc/DesignGuidelines.shtml) specify minimum structural, mechanical, and electrical specifications and fixtures for laboratories and other chemical use spaces at UNL. Proper operation of engineering controls must be verified at each use. In general, the following facility considerations apply to chemical use areas:
Administrative controls are procedures, policies, and training that are designed to minimize potential for chemical exposures. Many procedures are provided by EHS, as referenced throughout the Virtual Manual. Employees must familiarize themselves with those procedures that are applicable to their work, as well as workplace specific procedures developed/implemented by their supervisors (and which supplement the Virtual Manual). Following are highlights of fundamental administrative controls at UNL.
Prior to using any chemical, it is important to select the appropriate type and ensemble of PPE to protect against exposure. PPE selection must be consistent with a thorough and accurate hazard assessment as described in EHS SOP, Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures. At a minimum, laboratory appropriate PPE will generally consist of eye protection, gloves, and a lab coat/outer garment (flame resistant if fire is a hazard). PPE recommendations are often listed in the chemical manufacturer’s SDS. Also, consult chemical resistance information documented by the specific PPE manufacturer. For example, chemical resistance information for Ansell gloves is available on the EHS web page at: Chemical Resistance Glove Guides: Ansell 8th Edition. Appropriate PPE must be made available to employees and generally at no cost to them. To ensure effectiveness of assigned PPE, train employees in its proper use and care; maintain PPE in clean and good condition; store in a protected area away from environmental degradation and contamination; and promptly repair or replace damaged PPE. The web-based training module for Personal Protective Equipment will provide general selection and care guidance.
Exposure monitoring in laboratories is not usually necessary or practical as long as ventilation systems and other engineering controls are working correctly, and employees are using proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adhering to administrative controls. This is because, by definition, laboratories use small quantities of chemicals. Exposure monitoring in other types of locations may be appropriate if toxicologically significant quantities of chemicals are used. Regardless of the type of space (laboratory or non-laboratory), monitoring may be necessary if an employee experiences symptoms of exposure, or there are other reasons to believe that contaminant levels are above or nearing applicable exposure thresholds. Contact EHS if one or more of these conditions exist. Detection of potential exposure is discussed in EHS Chemical Safety Training.
In general, unwanted and spent chemicals must be disposed via EHS as described previously in the Virtual Manual section titled General Safety and Compliance for Everyone. Some unique disposal considerations pertaining to laboratories are addressed in the following EHS SOPs:
The UNL Injury and Illness Prevention Program describes the roles and responsibilities assigned to various levels from the Chancellor to individual employees, as well as departments. Within the context of OSHA's Laboratory and Hazard Communication Standards, the Director for Environmental Health and Safety (or delegate) serves as the campus Chemical Hygiene/Hazard Communication Officer. To summarize roles and responsibilities relative to the
Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and Hazard Communication Plan (HCP):
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