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.
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-eight OSHA-approved state plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standard and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements. Contact your local or state OSHA office for further information. Additional information is on available on the OSHA-approved state plans page.
There are several specific 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 hazards that are not covered by a specific OSHA standard, OSHA often provides guidance on protecting workers from these hazards.
Culture of Safety
With the promulgation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Laboratory standard (29 CFR 1910.1450), a culture of safety consciousness, accountability, organization, and education has developed in industrial, governmental, and academic laboratories. Safety and training programs have been implemented to monitor the handling of chemicals from ordering to disposal, and to train laboratory personnel in safe practices. A crucial component of chemical education for all personnel is to nurture basic attitudes and habits of prudent behavior so that safety is a valued and inseparable part of all laboratory activities throughout their career.
Highlights OSHA directives and letters of interpretation related to the laboratory standard.