The Laboratory Standard

The "Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories" standard was promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on May 1,1990. The regulations are accessible at the NMSU office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), via the safety resource page, or the following link (29 CFR 1910.1450). The final compliance date was January 31, 1991. This standard requires the development and implementation of a written Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP).  The NMSU model CHP is provided in the NMSU Laboratory Safety Guide.
 
A "
laboratory" subject to the Laboratory Standard is one in which:

a) relatively small quantities of chemicals are used on a routine, nonproductive basis, and

b) reaction containers, processes, transfers, etc., are designed to be handled or performed safely and easily by one person.

This definition potentially subjects all NMSU research laboratories to the standard.
 
The typical university laboratory uses dozens or even hundreds of potentially hazardous chemicals, but usually in very small quantities under controlled conditions. The Hazard Communication Program developed for this university has revealed in excess of 3,000 unique chemicals on this campus, the majority of which were laboratory chemicals. Because of this variability, the standard prescribes a custom approach to assure the safety and health of laboratory personnel.
 
The standard states that each department must establish a written Chemical Hygiene Plan as the basis of safety in the laboratory. The CHP lists the procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment, and practices that comprise the safety program. Each department must designate a Chemical Hygiene Officer as the individual responsible for setting up and running the plan. For large laboratories, the job may require a Chemical Hygiene Committee.
 
Specifically, 29 CFR 1910.1450 requires each department to:
 
- Identify the hazards presented by the materials and operations in the laboratory,
- Train personnel on the hazards of the materials used,
- Measure any significant exposure to personnel,
- Control excessive exposure,
- Re-monitor until exposures are acceptable,
- Keep records of all exposure measurements,
- Provide medical examinations for personnel exposed to levels above limits,
- Set up a respiratory program that follows OSHA 1910.134 - Respiratory Protection, and
- Maintain a written Chemical Hygiene Plan that itemizes how these requirements will be met.
 
NMSU laboratories vary widely in mission and structure. It is impossible to design a set of rules that will cover all possible hazards and occurrences. Many guidelines offered in this manual have demonstrated effectiveness for avoiding accidents or minimizing injuries in the laboratory. However, in order to make the Chemical Hygiene Plan more effective, specific information, training and procedures must be added to it that will apply specifically to the laboratory where the plan is being applied.

The NMSU Laboratory Safety Guide is designed to be a tool for the department safety officer and laboratory personnel to use in the execution and application of laboratory work practice.