OSHA Releases New Materials on Laboratory Safety

Practices and precautions to protect laboratory personnel include safety guidance for using autoclaves, use of chemical fume hoods, labeling and transferring chemicals, and latex exposure.

OSHA recently published new educational materials for laboratory managers on protecting their workers from exposure to chemical, biological, and physical hazards.

The new materials include the Laboratory Safety Guidance document, which describes how electrical, fire, explosions, and falls, among other hazards, can be minimized or eliminated if employers use safety plans, worker training, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment. New laboratory safety materials also include fact sheets that each focus on a specific hazard related to laboratory environments. Practices and precautions to protect laboratory personnel include safety guidance for using autoclaves, use of chemical fume hoods, labeling and transferring chemicals, and latex exposure.

Over the past several years, there have been a number of laboratory incidents resulting in fatalities and injuries caused by fires, explosions, and equipment, OSHA noted.

"The chemicals and equipment that laboratory workers use present a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening hazards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. "These educational materials will help employers identify hazards and measures to ensure safe and healthful conditions for their workers and promote a robust safety culture in the workplace."

OSHA is collaborating with the National Academies on resources to help improve the safety of laboratory workers. OSHA used the original edition of the National Academies' Prudent Practices in the Laboratory manual as the foundation for the agency's laboratory standard. The manual has since been revised, and the agencies are working together to update the non-mandatory appendices in OSHA's Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) to assure it is consistent with the guidance given in the revised manual.

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