OSHA Updates Guidance on Hazardous Chemical Exposures in Labs

A non-mandatory technical amendment taking effect Jan. 22 explains the basics of ensuring safe operations and discusses the roles of the chemical hygiene officer and others.

OSHA is issuing a technical amendment to the non-mandatory appendix in its standard on occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories, 1910.1450, which is known as the OSHA Laboratory Standard. Published Jan. 22 in the Federal Register, the amendment takes effect upon publication. It was made in order to include contents from a 2011 National Academy of Sciences publication.

Adhering to the hierarchy of controls is the third general principle listed in the technical amendment, following minimization of chemical exposures/risks and making an accurate assessment of the risks.

The hierarchy of controls principle discusses engineering controls, administrative controls, and various types of eye, face, hand, and foot PPE, along with protective apparel.

The Laboratory Standard requires laboratories to have Chemical Hygiene Plans, which the standard defines as "a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace."

The amendment says a lab's plan must be readily available to workers and should include these topics:

  • Individual chemical hygiene responsibilities
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Personal protective equipment, engineering controls and apparel
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Safety equipment/
  • Chemical management
  • Housekeeping
  • Emergency procedures for accidents and spills
  • Chemical waste
  • Training
  • Safety rules and regulations
  • Laboratory design and ventilation
  • Exposure monitoring
  • Compressed gas safety
  • Medical consultation and examination

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