Laboratory Safety

Learning objectives

  • Outline your responsibilities, and those of your employer, for laboratory safety and identify the types of hazards you may encounter while working in a lab
  • Identify and provide examples of hazard controls and safe work practices you may apply to protect yourself from hazardous exposures
  • List your emergency preparedness responsibilities and outline the steps you should take to respond to hazardous spills, exposures, and other emergencies

Course overview

According to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration, “More than 500,000 workers are employed in laboratories in the U.S. The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards.”

Knowing and implementing lab safety practices is imperative. Labs and their employees share the important responsibility of identifying hazards, utilizing hazard controls, and implementing emergency responses.

Laboratory personnel are regularly exposed to physical, chemical physical, chemical, biological, and sometimes radiological hazards. Working with these hazards can put individuals at risk of injury, chemical burns, long-term health issues, and a number of other problems. To safely work in a laboratory environment, all staff should be aware of these hazards, know where to find more information about the hazards, and take necessary precautions.

When a lab employee begins a task, they should always complete a risk assessment to identify hazards and personal risks, controls that need to be in place, and any unexpected challenges that could present during their work. The hierarchy of controls prioritizes hazard mitigation strategies and aims to systematically eliminate or substitute a less hazardous technique, process, or material. If elimination and substitution aren’t feasible, laboratories implement engineering and administrative controls and determine the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE) you need to provide as much protection as necessary.

Lab staff should always use safe work practices, including adequate preparation for and focus on the task, proper chemical and battery storage, and appropriate chemical labeling and waste management.

All labs should have emergency response policies, procedures, and equipment that all staff are aware of and able to locate. Labs should train employees on how to respond to different types of spills and other emergencies, including chemical exposure and inhalation, injuries, and fire.

  • 30 minutes
  • Format: Online Interactive
  • English
Course Outline
  • Identifying Hazards
  • Working Safely
  • Responding to Emergencies
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Z - Toxic and Hazardous Substances - 1450 Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Z - Toxic and Hazardous Substances - 1200 Hazard Communication
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I - Personal Protective Equipment – 134 Respiratory Protection
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