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October 13, 2011
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA publishes new educational materials
on protecting workers from hazards found in laboratories

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published new educational materials (http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/laboratories/index.html) for laboratory managers on protecting their workers from exposure to chemical, biological and physical hazards.

The new materials include the Laboratory Safety Guidance* document, which describes how electrical, fire, explosions and falls, among other hazards, can be minimized or eliminated if employers use safety plans, worker training, engineering controls and personal protective equipment. New laboratory safety materials also include fact sheets that each focus on a specific hazard related to laboratory environments. Practices and precautions to protect laboratory personnel include safety guidance for using autoclaves, use of chemical fume hoods, labeling and transferring chemicals, and latex exposure.

Over the past several years, there have been a number of laboratory incidents resulting in fatalities and injuries caused by fires, explosions and equipment. These incidents have resulted in debilitating injuries and death.

"The chemicals and equipment that laboratory workers use present a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening hazards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. "These educational materials will help employers identify hazards and measures to ensure safe and healthful conditions for their workers and promote a robust safety culture in the workplace."

OSHA is collaborating with the National Academies on resources to help improve the safety of laboratory workers. OSHA used the original edition of the National Academies' Prudent Practices in the Laboratory manual, the authoritative source on the handling of chemical hazards, as the foundation for the agency's laboratory standard. The manual has since been revised, and the agencies are working together to update the non-mandatory appendices in OSHA's Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) to assure it is consistent with the guidance given in the revised manual.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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