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 including chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards, as well as musculoskeletal stresses. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous local, state and federal regulations. Over the years, OSHA has promulgated rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for personnel. There are several primary OSHA standards that apply to laboratories as well as other OSHA standards that apply to various aspects of laboratory activities. The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) was created specifically for non-production laboratories.
Additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards as well as biological, physical and safety hazards. For those hazards that are not covered by a specific OSHA standard, OSHA often provides guidance on protecting workers from these hazards. OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on laboratory safety. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities and other services OSHA offers, read OSHA's Workers page.
In addition to information on OSHA standards and guidance that deal with laboratory hazards, other links are provided with information from other governmental and non-governmental agencies that deal with various aspects of laboratory safety.
Although the OSHA standards referenced on this web page deal specifically with laboratories within the jurisdiction of Federal OSHA, there are twenty-five states and two U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) that have their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health standards, which may be different from federal standards, but must be at least "as effective as" the federal standards. Contact your local or state OSHA office for further information. Additional information is on available on the OSHA-approved state plans page.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA's Regional & Area Offices webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small businesses may contact OSHA's free on-site consultation services funded by OSHA to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites. To contact free consultation services, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eCompliant Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
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