Hazard Recognition and Solutions

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. Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references provide links to indices of occupational hazards associated with laboratories.

Chemical Hazards

Employers are required to develop and carry out a written Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) that addresses all aspects of the Laboratory standard. A CHP is a "written program stating the policies, procedures, and responsibilities that serve to protect employees from the health hazards associated with the hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace.” The CHP contains work practices, procedures, and policies that provide a safe and healthy environment. There are numerous chemical hygiene plans available on the Internet. Most of these are from colleges, universities, and governmental facilities (the information included under the tab “Other Resources” contains several examples of CHPs) that are available through the Internet).

Sampling Methods - Chemicals
  • Chemical Sampling Information. OSHA. Presents, in concise form, data on a large number of chemical substances that may be encountered in industrial hygiene investigations. Basic reference for industrial hygienists engaged in OSHA field activity.
  • NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM). NMAM is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed. NMAM also includes chapters on quality assurance, sampling, portable instrumentation, etc.
  • Dermal Exposure. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Most chemicals are readily absorbed through the skin and can cause other health effects and/or contribute to the dose absorbed by inhalation of the chemical from the air. Many studies indicate that absorption of chemicals through the skin can occur without being noticed by the worker. In many cases, skin is a more significant route of exposure than the lung. This is particularly true for non-volatile chemicals which are relatively toxic and which remain on work surfaces for long periods of time.
Biological Hazards
Physical Hazards
Safety Hazards
Other Hazards