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Oregon State University

IV. Laboratory Chemicals

A. Buying Chemicals

  1. The decision to purchase a chemical shall be a commitment to handle and use the chemical properly from receipt to disposal.
  2. Chemical containers must have appropriate labels that include both the plain-language name of the chemical and hazard information. Plain-language name refers to the chemical name being spelled out; chemical nomenclature or abbreviations alone are not sufficient.

B. Chemical Storage and Transport

  1. Chemical storage areas must have a standard OSU "CAUTION" sign that identifies emergency contact personnel. Contact EH&S at for signs. (Reference 5)
  2. Glass containers that contain more than 4 liters of flammable liquids are prohibited.
  3. Segregate chemicals by hazard classification and compatibility (Reference 21).
    1. Separate oxidizers from flammable, combustible, or any organic material.
    2. Separate acids from bases and acid-sensitive materials such as cyanides and sulfides.
  4. Place acid-resistant trays under bottles of mineral acids.
  5. Minimize storage of chemicals at the lab bench, in hoods, and at other work areas.
  6. Stored chemicals shall be inspected at least annually by the Laboratory Chemical Hygiene Officer for deterioration and container integrity. The inspection should detect corrosion, deterioration, or damage to the storage facility as a result of leaking chemicals.
  7. Unneeded chemicals shall be discarded through EH&S.

C. Chemical Handling

Exposure to all chemicals should be minimized. General precautions that shall be followed for the handling and use of all chemicals are:

  1. Use a container size of the minimum convenient volume for the task at hand. Quantities of chemicals at the lab bench should be as small as practical.
  2. Avoid skin contact with all chemicals.
  3. Wash all skin which accidently came in contact with chemicals before leaving the laboratory.
  4. When leaving the lab, stop all operations, or, for operations that do not require monitoring, make precautions for the interruption of utility service (e.g., loss of water pressure or electricity).
  5. Food or beverages shall not be stored in laboratories or in chemical or specimen refrigerators and lab utensils or glassware will not be used for non-laboratory operations such as food or liquid consumption.
  6. Treat substances of unknown toxicity as toxic. Any chemical mixture must be assumed to be as toxic as its most toxic component.
  7. Laboratory employees must be familiar with the symptoms of exposure for the chemicals with which they work and the precautions necessary to prevent exposure.
  8. In all cases of chemical exposure, the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit is not to be exceeded.

D. Disposal of Chemicals

  1. EH&S provides a chemical waste disposal program for the OSU community. (Reference 7). To request chemical waste disposal use the EH&S hazardous waste web request.
  2. Chemical waste must be disposed of through the OSU waste disposal program. Some non-hazardous chemical waste can be sewer-disposed; consult with EH&S for details.
  3. All chemical waste containers must be labeled with the word "waste" plus a plain-language description of contents. They must also have a tight fitting lid.

E. Chemical Spills

  1. Each laboratory is expected to maintain appropriate material to contain and clean up minor chemical spills.
  2. Major chemical spills, or spills which migrate off the bench top or beyond the laboratory of origin are to be cleaned up by trained individuals. EH&S has individuals who are trained and equipped for hazardous material spill management. (Reference 16)
  3. In the event of a major spill, or a spill of highly toxic chemicals
    • contact EH&S (after hours contact security services.)
    • post a sign warning of the spill at all entrances to the area unless personnel are on duty to provide adequate warning .

F. Glassware and Containers

  1. All labs using glassware will have a clearly labeled broken glass container. Broken glassware will be immediately disposed of in this container.
  2. High-vacuum evacuated glass apparatus will be shielded to contain chemicals and glass fragments should implosion occur.
  3. All containers of chemicals shall be labeled.
    1. Labels shall be informative and durable
    2. Labels will identify contents and general hazards
    3. Labels will include the plain-language chemical name
    4. The chemical source, receipt date, storage location and initials/identifier of person who prepared the container should also be placed on the label.

G. Personal Protective Equipment

  1. ANSI approved safety glasses are required, at a minimum, when there is a need for eye protection because of handling highly toxic or corrosive chemicals.
  2. Chemical goggles and/or a full face shield should be worn during chemical transfer of large quantities of corrosive chemicals.
  3. Lab coats should be laundered periodically and shall be removed from the laboratory if there is significant contamination with a hazardous substance. Lab coats are considered protective gear and must not be worn outside laboratory are as (unless in transit between labs).
  4. Wear appropriate chemical-resistant gloves at all times when hands may come in contact with chemicals. Discard damaged or deteriorated gloves immediately.
  5. Wear thermal-resistant (non-asbestos) gloves when handling heated materials and exothermic reaction vessels. Discard damaged or deteriorated gloves immediately.
  6. Respirators may be required for certain procedures, as determined by the lab's supervisor/PI in consultation with the Laboratory Chemical Hygiene Officer, based on the OSU Respirator Program (Reference 6).

H. Personal Work Practices

  1. Each OSU employee working in a laboratory must develop work habits consistent with this Chemical Hygiene Plan to minimize exposure to the chemicals. Laboratory Safety Rules should be understood and followed (Reference 25).
  2. Plan operations, equipment and protective measures based on knowledge of the chemicals in use.
  3. Use engineering controls (e.g., hoods, centrifuge rotor hoods) appropriately to minimize chemical exposure.
  4. Wear appropriate protective equipment as procedures dictate and when necessary to avoid exposure.
  5. Report unsafe laboratory practices or conditions to the Lab Supervisor/PI. The Lab Supervisor/PI should correct unsafe practices or conditions promptly.

I. Housekeeping

  1. Each laboratory worker is responsible for maintaining a reasonably clean and uncluttered work space.
  2. Lab workers are jointly responsible for common areas of the laboratory.