Laboratory Safety

The OSHA regulation for chemical safety in laboratories can be found at 29 CFR 1910.1450. This regulation was developed with the intention of establishing a safe working environment as it relates to working with hazardous chemicals in a laboratory.


OSHA defines a health hazard as a chemical which is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects: acute toxicity (any route of exposure); skin corrosion or irritation; serious eye damage or eye irritation; respiratory or skin sensitization; germ cell mutagenicity; carcinogenicity; reproductive toxicity; specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure); or aspiration hazard.


This OSHA regulation only applies where chemicals are used on a Laboratory Scale. OSHA defines Laboratory Scale as work with substances in which the containers used for reactions, transfers, and other handling of substances are designed to be easily and safely manipulated by one person. “Laboratory scale” excludes those workplaces whose function is to produce commercial quantities of materials.


Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP)

A comprehensive chemical hygiene program should be designed to minimize exposures, injuries, illnesses, and incidents. There should be a regular, continuing effort that includes program oversight, safe facilities, chemical hygiene planning, training, emergency preparedness and chemical security. The chemical hygiene program must be reviewed annually and updated as necessary whenever new processes, chemicals, or equipment is implemented. Its recommendations should be followed in all laboratories.


The MMC EHS Department has developed a template CHP to be used by each laboratory at Meharry. Each Principal Investigator (PI) should start with this template and customize it as their safety manual for the lab. The EHS Department will assist the PI in the development of their laboratory specific CHP. The CHP is meant to serve as a primary safety training tool for anyone who works in or visits the lab. It will outline such things as appropriate PPE, safe working protocols, and provide a risk assessment for hazardous chemicals in the lab among other things.


The Laboratory’s CHP must be readily available to workers and capable of protecting workers from health hazards and minimizing exposure. The CHP includes the following topics:

(a) Individual chemical hygiene responsibilities;

(b) Standard operating procedures;

(c) Personal protective equipment, engineering controls and apparel;

(d) Laboratory equipment;

(e) Safety equipment;

(f) Chemical management;

(g) Housekeeping;

(h) Emergency procedures for accidents and spills;

(i) Chemical waste;

(j) Training;

(k) Safety rules and regulations;

(l) Laboratory design and ventilation;

(m) Exposure monitoring;

(n) Compressed gas safety;

(o) Medical consultation and examination.


It should be noted that the nature of laboratory work may necessitate addressing biological safety, radiation safety, and security issues.

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Contact EHS

Dept. of Environmental Health & Safety
1005 Dr. D. B. Todd, Jr., Blvd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37208
Telephone: 615.327.6642