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Environmental Health & Safety


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    The Chemical Hygiene Program (CHP) is written to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation set forth in 29 CFR 1910.1450, the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories (the “Laboratory Standard”).  This regulation mandates a program of practices, procedures, and policies designed to protect employees who use hazardous chemicals in a laboratory setting.  These laboratory chemicals include not only those regulated in 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Z, but also any chemical meeting the definition of a hazardous chemical with respect to physical and health hazards as defined in OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.

    The CHP applies to all UofR laboratories.  This “Program” includes research laboratories, clinical labs, student labs, instrumental labs, lab support locations, environmental chambers/rooms, quality control labs, store rooms for lab equipment, linear equipment rooms, and corridors adjoining labs.  Locations not covered by the “Program” include sound labs, - computer labs, and many electrical engineering labs.

    The purpose of the CHP is to provide laboratory personnel with basic safety information regarding the use of chemicals in laboratories.  Although a number of chemicals are mentioned in this “Program”, they are not the only chemicals that may be present.  They serve to illustrate hazards that may be present.  This “Program” also presents information on the safe storage, use, and disposal of chemicals/wastes in laboratories.

    It is the policy of the UofR to provide an environment free from recognized hazards that could cause injury or illness.  To this end, employees may not be exposed at or above a chemical’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) or Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) set by OSHA

    Working with any chemical involves a degree of risk.  Even though a chemical may not be considered hazardous by today's standard, all employees are advised to minimize their exposure to chemicals by using established safe practices.  Three main categories exist to control exposure include: (1) engineering controls, (2) work practices and administrative controls, and (3) personal protective equipment (PPE).

    Engineering controls, the preferred method of reducing exposure, should be used whenever the chemical hazard information on the chemical label or the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) indicates "use local exhaust."  Examples of engineering controls include fume hoods, canopy hoods, slot hoods, glove boxes, and biological safety cabinets.  Also, the Principal Investigator or lab supervisor should make all efforts to ensure the least hazardous substances are used and that all chemicals are used in the most efficient manner to minimize both exposure and waste.

    Work practices and administrative controls are another method in reducing employee exposure after the use of engineering controls.  SDS and chemical labels must be reviewed for specific work practice instructions.  Additional work practices and administrative controls include items such as not working alone and compiling specific experimental protocols that include safe work practices, as listed in this document, and Standard Operating Procedures, both written/approved by the PI/supervisor and those listed in the appendices of this document.  Some chemical manufacturers may have detailed work practices to follow for the safe use of extremely hazardous agents.  For example, Sigma-Aldrich provides detailed work practices that can be down-loaded for tertiary butyl lithium.

    PPE must be used in addition to, but not as a substitute for, engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure.  PPE may consist of respiratory protection, eye protection, face protection, gloves, hearing protection, dermal coverings, or protective clothing.  SDS and chemical labels contain specific information on the PPE needed.  When PPE is selected, its use shall be in accordance with OSHA standard 29 CRF 1910, sections 132-134, in accordance with the UofR Personal Protective Equipment Program (, the UofR Respiratory Protection Program (, and the UofR Hearing Protection Program (, as well as the UofR’s Human Resource Policy  “Safety or Personal Protective Equipment Policy” (#158, Appendix 1).

    It is not enough, however, to provide safe equipment, Standard Operating Procedures, and training if the “culture” does not encourage and support working safely in the laboratory.  Therefore, the University of Rochester encourages all laboratory staff including Principal Investigators to place the highest priorities on best practices and to raise concerns to colleagues and supervisors when they identify or are concerned about potential safety problems.

    The CHP is a continually evolving program.  The CHP can be modified by the approval of the Manager of the Laboratory Safety Unit and the Director of Environmental Health and Safety, with input from the Laboratory Safety Officers.  The most recent copy of this document is available on-line.

    Many University laboratories utilize not only hazardous chemicals but also have/use biological agents, radioisotopes, research animals, special instruments (lasers, mass spectrophotometers), and/or have physical hazards  Biological hazards are handled/controlled by the Institutional Biosafety Committee.  Radioisotopes are handled/controlled by EH&S’s Radiation Safety Unit.  The 2015 edition of the University’s Chemical Hygiene Program includes several new sections to better control hazardous chemicals/drugs administered to animals, physical hazards, ventilation issues and common reaction hazards.

QUESTIONS or COMMENTS? Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 7/30/2015. Disclaimer.