F&M CHEMICAL HYGIENE PLAN
4. CHEMICAL HYGIENE AND SAFETY
4.1 Standard Operating Procedures
Workers in laboratories where chemical reagents are used or stored, especially in research laboratories, must be prepared to deal with varied and, in some cases, unpredictable hazards. These Standard Operating Procedures are fundamental safety precautions and must be familiar to all laboratory workers. These practices shall be followed at all times while in the laboratory. Specific safety procedures which address the particular hazards of toxic, flammable, reactive and corrosive materials are given in Section 4.3.
4.1.1 General Rules
Awareness is the most fundamental rule of chemical safety. Everyone in the laboratory should remain constantly aware of:
- Chemical hazards as determined from Material Safety Data Sheets and other appropriate references.
- Appropriate safeguards for each chemical in use, including personal protective equipment.
- Location and proper use of emergency equipment.
- Proper storage for chemicals when not in use. (Chemicals are actually used for only minutes in the average workday. The rest of the time they are being "stored" on the laboratory bench or in the fume hood.)
- Proper personal hygiene practices.
- Proper methods of transporting chemicals within the facility.
- Appropriate procedures for emergencies, including evacuation routes, spill cleanup procedures and proper waste disposal.
College policy forbids laboratory employees from working alone if the chemicals being used are carcinogens, reproductive toxins or acute toxins with a high degree of toxicity. When working alone with less hazardous chemicals outside of normal working hours the laboratory supervisor must be notified and arrangements made, with other workers or Public Safety, to be checked on at regular intervals.
It is also contrary to College policy to leave operations to proceed unattended if those procedures in involve the use of carcinogens, reproductive toxins or acute toxins with a high degree of toxicity. Only if the operation involves less hazardous chemicals, and only if it must be left unattended, do so observing the following precautions:
- Leave lights on in the laboratory;
- Place an appropriate sign on the laboratory door; and
- Provide for containment of hazardous substances in the event of a utility failure (such as cooling water).
4.1.2 Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene is an important factor in chemical hygiene. To cause harm, a toxic chemical must contact the person through inhalation, ingestion, injection, or absorption through eye or skin. If the worker is properly protected, the chemical's ability to do harm can be eliminated. Appropriate personal hygiene practices include:
|Route || ||Precaution |
| || || |
|Inhalation ||1. ||Avoid inhalation of any chemicals; do not "sniff" to test. |
| ||2. ||Do not use mouth suction for pipeting or starting a siphon; use suction bulbs. |
| ||3. ||Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or apply cosmetics in chemical areas. |
|Injection ||4. ||The most likely source of contact through this route is cuts on broken glassware or rough metal edges. Examine glassware for cracks. Do not use damaged glassware. |
|Absorption ||5. ||Wear appropriate eye protection at all times. |
| ||6. ||Wash promptly if skin contact is made with any chemical, regardless of corrosivity. |
| ||7. ||Do not sit on lab benches. |
| ||8. ||Clean thoroughly, or leave behind, gloves and other potentially contaminated protective apparel before leaving the lab. |
| ||9. ||Wash exposed areas of skin well with soap and water, before leaving the laboratory; do not wash with laboratory solvents. |
| ||10. ||Change clothing as soon as possible after leaving the laboratory and launder work clothes often. |
| || || |
4.1.3 Food and Smoking
Because chemical vapors can be absorbed by foods (especially bread) and tobacco, no food or tobacco products are allowed in areas where chemicals are used or stored.
The College's Nonsmoking Policy, provides for smoking only in "Smoking Permitted" areas. Because smoking presents both fire and health-safety hazards, and because smokers and nonsmokers must work together, no laboratories or portions of laboratories are designated as "Smoking Permitted" areas.
4.1.4 Protective Clothing and Equipment
Most specialized personal protective equipment will be provided by the College. It is the responsibility of each worker to be certain that the appropriate equipment is worn as necessary.
The normal clothing worn to the laboratory provides the first level of protection. Clothing should be worn to minimize exposed skin surfaces available for direct contact through splashing. Therefore, all workers are encouraged to wear long sleeved, long-legged clothing and avoid short sleeved shirts, shorts, or skirts.
Additional equipment available from the College includes:
- Eye wear
- Lab coats
- Face shields
The proper uses and maintenance of this equipment is discussed in Section 4.2, Control Measures and Equipment.
Sensible housekeeping practices contribute greatly towards chemical hygiene and safety. A clean work area is much safer than a cluttered or dirty one. Appropriate housekeeping measures include:
- Keeping all aisles, hallways, and stairs clear.
- Keeping all work areas and especially workbenches clear of clutter and obstructions.
- Cleaning all working surfaces and floors regularly.
- Maintaining clear access to emergency equipment, showers, eyewashes and exits.
- Keeping wastes in their proper containers and labeling them properly.
- Treating any unlabeled containers at the end of each workday as waste.
Laboratory staff should be considerate of housekeeping and maintenance personnel who are not as highly trained regarding chemicals and their hazards as most laboratory workers. Therefore, for the safety of housekeeping staff, laboratory workers should ensure that:
- All chemicals are placed in proper storage areas and work areas are cleaned on completion of an operation, or at the end of each workday;
- All chemical containers are labeled with both the identity of the contents and the hazards they present;
- All spills are promptly cleaned up and the spilled chemicals and clean-up materials are properly disposed of; and
- No chemicals are ever stored in aisles, stairwells, on desks or workbenches, on floors or in hallways, or left on shelves over the workbenches.
Additionally, for the safety of maintenance staff, laboratory workers should ensure that:
- All work in the affected laboratories is suspended when repairs or modification of the fume hood exhaust and plumbing systems is being carried out, even if that work is being conducted outside of the laboratory.
4.1.6 Prior Approval
Any new procedure should be subjected to review, not only from a scientific standpoint, but also to assure that all safety considerations are in place prior to implementation. Approval from the laboratory supervisor to proceed with a laboratory task should be obtained whenever:
- There is a new procedure, process or test, even if it is similar to older practices;
- There is a change, substitution or deletion of any of the ingredient chemicals in a procedure;
- There is a substantial change (25% or more) in the amount of chemicals used;
- There is a failure of any of the equipment used in the process, especially such safeguards as fume hoods or clamp apparatus;
- There are unexpected test results, in which case a review of how the new result impacts safety practices must be made; and
- When members of the laboratory staff become ill, suspect exposure, detect a chemical's odor, or otherwise suspect a failure of any safeguards.
4.1.7 Spills and Accidents
Spills of toxic substances or accidents involving any hazardous chemical shall be resolved immediately as follows:
- Notify your laboratory supervisor immediately. If the amount spilled is in excess of a quantity predetermined by your supervisor, notify Public Safety immediately. (Public Safety will notify the appropriate emergency responders.)
- If the spilled chemical presents a fire hazard, extinguish all nearby sources of ignition, and call Public Safety.
- If a person has been splashed with a chemical, flush the affected area with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes, remove all contaminated clothing, and call Public Safety.
- If a person has ingested a hazardous chemical encourage the victim to drink large amounts of water, and call Public Safety.
- If a person has been overexposed by inhalation, get victim to fresh air, apply artificial respiration if necessary, and call Public Safety.
- In other cases of overexposure, call Public Safety and follow the instructions of the safety professional.
- After securing proper medical attention for a chemical exposure victim, neutralize or absorb the spilled chemical with the proper spill cleanup material and dispose of it in accordance with hazardous wastes procedures.
There are some fundamental actions which must NOT be taken in handling emergencies. These include:
- DO NOT force any liquids into the mouth of an unconscious person.
- DO NOT handle emergencies alone, especially without notifying someone that the accident has occurred.
- DO NOT apply medical aid procedures without some training in that area (except to wash with water for 15 minutes and get victim to fresh air). If you are not trained in fundamental first aid, get medical direction before inducing vomiting, giving antidotes or applying a "neutralizer" to the skin or eyes of the victim.
- DO NOT linger at the accident scene if you are not one of the emergency responders.
4.1.8 Waste Chemicals
Chemical wastes are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and its amendments. A generator of hazardous wastes is regulated if the entire facility produces more than 100 kg (~25 gal.) of hazardous wastes per month.
Laboratory supervisors are responsible for advising all laboratory workers how to handle wastes from their work, and laboratory workers shall exercise due care in the handling of such wastes. Hazardous wastes should be disposed of according to the College's Waste Disposal Program (in preparation). The overall steps of disposing of hazardous wastes are, briefly:
- The individual laboratories are responsible for the safe collection and temporary storage of hazardous wastes generated at their site. Satellite storage areas like this are limited to 55 gallons of hazardous waste, or one quart of acutely hazardous waste.
- Hazardous wastes are primarily segregated into three waste streams: halogenated organic wastes, non-halogenated organic wastes and aqueous, inorganic wastes.
- Wastes are to be stored at the point of origin until pick-up is scheduled by the Safety Coordinator during the January break, at the end of the Spring Semester or at the end of the Summer Research Program. At these times a centralized staging area is designated for packing the wastes and instructions are communicated to the generating laboratory workers on when and how to bring the wastes to this area.
- No quantity of chemically hazardous material may be transported over public highways without proper packaging classification, labeling and documentation. Consequently, hazardous waste will be transported from the College for treatment or disposal only by licensed hazardous waste Transport, Storage and Disposal facilities.