The purpose of OSHA’s Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) is to ensure that workers in non-production laboratories are informed about the hazards of chemicals in their workplace and are protected from chemical exposures exceeding allowable levels [i.e., OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)] as specified in Table Z of the Air Contaminants Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000) and as specified in other substance-specific health standards]. The Laboratory Standard applies to all employers engaged in the laboratory use of hazardous chemicals as defined in the standard (see below), where there is a potential for employee exposure. Among other things, the Laboratory Standard requires employers to establish safe work practices in laboratories, and to implement a Chemical Hygiene Plan (discussed below), to protect workers from hazardous chemical hazards.
Staff exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories.
Requirements under OSHA's Laboratory Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1450
Under the Laboratory Standard:
- "Laboratory" means a facility where the "laboratory use of hazardous chemicals" occurs. It is a workplace where relatively small quantities of hazardous chemicals are used on a non-production basis.
- "Laboratory use of hazardous chemicals" means handling or use of such chemicals in which all the following conditions are met:
- Chemical manipulations are carried out on a "laboratory scale" (see definition in standard)
- Multiple chemical procedures or chemicals are used.
- The procedures involved are not part of a production process, nor in any way simulate a production process.
- "Protective laboratory practices and equipment" (as defined in the standard) are available and in common use to minimize the potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Any hazardous chemical use that does not meet this definition is not covered by the Laboratory Standard – even if the hazardous chemical use occurs within a laboratory. In these cases, use of or exposure to the chemical is still regulated under other applicable OSHA standards. For instance:
- Use of chemicals in building maintenance of a laboratory is not covered under the Laboratory Standard.
- The production of a chemical in a laboratory for commercial sale, even in small quantities, is not covered.
- Quality control testing of a product is not covered under the Laboratory Standard.
If the Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) applies:
Employers must develop and implement a Chemical Hygiene Plan. A Chemical Hygiene Plan is a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that (i) are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace and (ii) meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1450(e).
There are numerous model chemical hygiene plans and resources available, including, but not limited to:
- Appendix A to the Laboratory Standard, National Research Council Recommendations Concerning Chemical Hygiene in Laboratories (Non-Mandatory)
- Appendix B to the Laboratory Standard, References (Non-Mandatory)
- Chemical Hygiene Plan. National Institutes of Health (NIH), (August 2015).
- Model Chemical Hygiene Plan. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Chemical Hygiene Plan and Hazardous Materials Safety Manual. Purdue University, (July 2, 2014).
- Chemical Hygiene Plan. University of California, Berkeley, (August 2013).
Some OSHA Standards require specific work practices for specific hazards or situations. Some of the applicable OSHA standards for laboratory settings include, but are not limited to:
- Bloodborne pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030)
- Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories (29 CFR 1910.1450)
- Lead (29 CFR 1926.59)
- Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Formaldehyde (29 CFR 1910.1048)
Refer to the specific OSHA Standard for applicable requirements. Information and guidance about complying with these OSHA Standards may be available on OSHA's website.
- Laboratories. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
- OSHA Laboratory Standard. OSHA Fact Sheet, (August 2011).
- Laboratory Safety Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). OSHA Fact Sheet, (August 2011).
- Laboratory Safety Guidance. OSHA Publication 3404, (2011).
- Coverage of various types of laboratories by the Laboratory Standard. OSHA Letter of Interpretation, (February 8, 1991).
- The Laboratory Standard does not apply to a pharmacy operation mixing cytotoxic drugs. OSHA Letter of Interpretation, (June 22, 1990).
- Formaldehyde. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.