Chemical Safety Management
The Laboratory Chemical Safety Manual, developed by EHS, is the recommended standard for the safe use, storage, and disposal of chemicals in U of A laboratories. It incorporates general guidelines and detailed information on many laboratory safety practices involving chemicals.
Chemical Safety Plan
The University’s Laboratory Chemical Safety Manual provides general information and guidelines on many laboratory safety practices for the safe use, storage, handling and disposal of chemicals in all laboratories on campus. To assist individual laboratories supplement this Manual with laboratory-specific procedures, a Chemical Safety Plan template has been developed. It is recommended that all laboratory supervisors use this as a guide to develop their laboratory-specific procedures. The template is by no means all-inclusive and as such it may be supplemented as necessary to meet the needs of individual laboratories.
Laboratory Specific Safety Training
Principal Investigators/Laboratory supervisors shall ensure that all workers in their laboratories receive health & safety training specific to the hazards present in the laboratory. Where a laboratory or core piece of equipment is shared by multiple user groups, the Principal Investigators/Laboratory Supervisors of these groups shall work together to provide cross-training to the groups on the various hazards associated with their individual projects. Each department shall provide general department-wide training on WHMIS and other safety related information.
Laboratory Supervisors should supplement general Department safety training with training specific to all chemical, biological, radiation or other hazards in their laboratories. The Laboratory Safety Training Checklist identifies information/training that should be provided to all workers in the lab. The training may be completed by the lab Supervisor or their delegate.
The Checklist is designed to assist the laboratory supervisor in the provision of laboratory specific training for new workers. It is recommended this checklist be reviewed with workers on a regularly scheduled basis e.g. during their annual performance review as a means to update and ensure that the worker is trained to perform all identified tasks and/or job duties.
Laboratory Chemical Safety Audits
EHS conducts regular audits of University laboratories to assess regulatory compliance and occupational health & safety issues.
Laboratory Chemical Safety Audit: Reply / Corrective Action
A chemical spill is defined as an uncontrolled release of a hazardous chemical, either in the form of a gas, liquid, or solid. In the event of a spill in the laboratory:
- Stay clear and warn others in the immediate area of the spill. Isolate the area around the spill.
- Assist injured or contaminated persons if you are trained to do so, but do not place yourself at risk of injury or contamination in the process.
- Assess the situation, and determine (a) if it constitutes an emergency situation or (b) even though it is not an emergency, whether assistance is required to clean up the spill. If so, contact the Communication Control Centre (492-5555) and provide the information listed above. Contact your departmental spill designate.
- If the spill is minor, and trained local personnel, personal protective equipment (PPE), and spill abatement material are available, the spill may be cleaned up according to the procedures given in the EHS Guidelines for Chemical Spill Response.
All chemical spill and gas releases should be reported in writing to EHS using the Injury / Incident Report Form. Include the date, time, location, description of the spill, personnel injuries or exposures, any property damage, escape of materials into the environment, witnesses, and persons involved in supervision and clean up of the spill. The report should be submitted to EHS within 48 hours of the spill occurring, regardless of whether the Communications Control Centre was notified or not.
Fume hoods are designed to control exposure to hazardous chemicals, and should be used for all but the most innocuous procedures. They should not, however, be treated as a worry-free method of waste disposal. Apparatus used in the hood should be equipped with appropriate condensers, traps, and scrubbers to collect or contain wastes and vapours.
Optimal airflow for a standard chemical fume hood is 100 feet per minute (fpm) at a sash opening of 30cm (12 inches). Adequate airflow and the absence of excessive turbulence are necessary for safe operation. To ensure this:
- Sash openings should be kept at 30cm (12 inches) or less while working in the hood. When the hood is not in use, the sash should be completely closed.
- Do not block the air baffles at the back of the fume hood. Do not place anything closer than 3cm (1inch) to the back of the hood.
- Keep apparatus at least 15cm (6 inches) from the front of the fume hood.
- Keep the fume hood clean and uncluttered. Apparatus and chemicals should normally be kept in the fume hood only if they are a component of the operation for which the hood is being used. Fume hoods should not be used for long term storage of chemicals or apparatus.
- Do not modify the interior of the hood (for example, by installing shelves).
- Minimize foot traffic around the fume hood. A person walking past a fume hood can create turbulence, causing vapours to flow out.
- Keep windows and doors near fume hoods closed. Open windows and doors can disrupt airflow.
- Do not use fans near fume hoods. Fans in the lab can cause turbulence which can disrupt proper air flow through the hood.
Regular workplace inspections play a key role in preventing accidents and injuries by identifying hazards, implementing corrective measures, and monitoring the effectiveness of the controls. It is recommended that laboratory supervisors with one or two workers conduct inspections as a team on a monthly basis. Customize this generic inspection checklist to meet the specific circumstances of your own laboratory.