Lab Health & Safety Management

The Office of Environmental Health, Safety & Chemical Hygiene offers safety and chemical hygiene training sessions, some in partnership with Campus Safety, for faculty, staff and students.

Safety & Chemical Hygiene Training


Instructor: Scott Harrington, College Facilities Liaison/Administrative Specialist

  • Personal Safety Training for Students
  • Personal Safety Training for Faculty & Staff
  • Surviving an Abduction or Hostage Situation Training
  • Surviving an Armed Encounter: RHF Training


Instructor: Osamede Evbuomwan, MS CSP CHMM SMS CIEC CCHO CUSP CPEA
Occupational Health & Safety Manager and Chemical Hygiene Officer
Adjunct-Faculty on Industrial Hygiene (Fall), Environmental Health & Safety (Fall)
Individual Student Program (ISP) Environmental Health & Safety Mentor

  • Personal Protection Equipment Training
  • Chemical/Hazardouse Waste Disposal


Permanent Container Labels

No lab worker should use, store any hazardous substance in a laboratory if the container (including bags, barrels, bottles, boxes, cans, cylinders) does not meet the following labeling requirements in OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910. 1200(F)(1):

  • The identity of the chemical and appropriate hazard warning must be shown on the label.
  • The hazard warning must provide users with an immediate understanding of the primary health and/or physical hazard(s) of the hazardous chemical through the use of words, pictures, symbols, or any combination of these elements.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, importer or other responsible party must be included on the label.
  • The hazard label message must be legible, permanently displayed and written in English.

OSHA Safety Data Sheets

Portable (Secondary) Container Labels

Often, laboratory operations require transferring chemicals from the original labeled container into a secondary container (e.g., beaker, flask, or bottle). Portable containers must comply with the labeling requirements listed above if any of the following events occur:

  • The material is not used within the work shift of the individual who makes the transfer.
  • The container is moved to another work area and is no longer in the possession of the worker who filled the container.
  • The worker who made the transfer leaves the work area.
  • Labels on portable containers are not required if the worker who made the transfer uses all the contents during the work shift.

When a secondary container is used for longer than one shift or does not meet the requirement outlined in the permanent container labels section, above, a label needs to be applied to the secondary container. This label must contain two key pieces of information: the identity of the hazardous chemical (s) in the container (e.g., chemical name) and the hazards present.

Replacement Container Label

The existing label on a container entering the workplace from a supplier must not be removed, altered or defaced. If a chemical containers original label must be replaced, the new label must contain the same information as the original. Only use labels, ink and markings that are not soluble in the liquid content of the container.

Labeling Solutions (Chemicals) made in the Lab

To maintain consistency, harmonization and uniformity, all solutions made in the lab should be labeled with either orange or green label/tag depending on the hazard class.
1. Orange label should be used of hazardous chemicals (e.g., Hydrochloric acid).
2. Green label should be used on non-hazardous chemicals (e.g., buffers).

Also, the following information must be on the label:
1. Full chemical name (chemical formular not acceptable);
2. Chemical hazard(s);
3. Date generated;
4. Initials of the Principal Investigator/responsible party.

Chemical Fume Hoods

The chemical fume hood is often the primary control device for protecting laboratory workers when working with flammable and/or toxic chemicals. OSHA’s laboratory standard (29 CFR 1910. 1450) requires that fume hoods be maintained and function properly when used.



Make sure that you understand how the hood works.

You should be trained to use it properly.

Know the hazards of the chemical you are working with; refer to the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet if you are unsure.

Ensure that the hood is on.

Make sure that the sash is open to the proper operating level, which is usually indicated by arrows on the frame.

Make sure that the air gauge indicates that the airflow is within the required range.


Never allow your head to enter the plane of the hood opening.

Use appropriate eye protection.

Be sure that nothing blocks the airflow through the baffles or through the baffle exhaust slots.

Elevate large equipment (e.g., a centrifuge) at least two inches off the base of the hood interior.

Keep all materials inside the hood at least six inches from the sash opening. When not working in the hood, close the sash.

Do not permanently store any chemical inside the hood.

Promptly report any hood that is not functioning properly. The sash should be closed and the hood tagged and taken out of service until repairs can be completed.

When using extremely hazardous chemicals, understand your laboratory’s action plan in case an emergency, such as a power failure occurs.

UV Light Hazards

About UV Light
Ultraviolet light (UV), a form of nonionizing radiation is a small band on the electromagnetic spectrum with sunlight as the largest source of UV light. UV light is widely used in labs research (biological safety cabinets, germicidal lamps) medical and indoor applications. Continuous or short-term use of UV light can result in detrimental health outcomes.

UV is divided into three classes based on wavelength: UV-A with a wavelength of 315 to 400 nm, UV-B with a wavelength from 280 to 314 nm, and UV-C with a wavelength from 180 to 280 nm, such as the germicidal lamps found in biosafety cabinets (BSCs), laminar flow hoods, and HVAC air handlers to kill bacteria and mold.

UV light is also found in spectrophotometer. UV light is invisible with delayed reaction. The level of risk depends on light intensity and length of exposure.

Do not work in a biosafety cabinet with UV lamps on.

Working with Reproductive Hazards

The Hazards

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines reproductive hazards as materials that may affect the reproductive health of workers. Chemicals that negatively affect reproduction are called teratogens. Exposure to chemicals can occur through skin absorption, inhalation, ingestion, and injection. Exposure to these materials could lead to miscarriage, infertility, and other birth defects. Examples of reproductive hazards include radiation (physical agents), biological agents (viruses), and chemical agents.

Declare a Pregnancy (Optional)

An employee/student may choose to declare her pregnancy (or intent to become pregnant) so Environmental, Health and Safety can help address possible reproductive hazards in their workspace. Employees should also inform their physician of intent to work in the lab while pregnant.


The principal investigator must provide lab safety training about the hazardous materials in use and the methods of control available. A Safety Data Sheet must be made available to the employee/students and all training records kept.


The centrifuge is a vital tool in laboratory research. An uneven surface could cause the rotor to be imbalanced. Centrifuges are designed with the assumption that the axis of the rotor will be in line with the direction of gravity. Always confirm rotor is balanced before use.

Conduct rotor or safety cup/bucket cleanup in nearest biosafety cabinet or fumehood depending on hazard.
Use tongs or forceps to avoid contact with sharp-edged debris.
Avoid alkaline cleaners for aluminum centrifuge components.
Avoid abrasive wire brushes for cleaning.

If used and/or maintained improperly, all centrifuges (including microcentrifuges) can present various hazards such as:

Physical hazards: Mechanical failure due to mechanical stress, metal fatigue, and corrosion of the rotor over time.

Exposure hazards: Aerosolization of biological or chemical materials.

The following information may be integrated into a lab-specific standard operating procedure (SOP) for centrifuge use.

1. Preventive maintenance
a. Establish a preventive maintenance schedule including regular cleaning of centrifuge interior to prevent damage and avoid costly repairs.
b. Reference centrifuge operator’s manual or contact manufacturer for guidance.
c. Equipment repair and adjustments shall only be conducted by qualified service technicians.
d. Maintain a log book for all high-speed centrifuges and ultracentrifuges include run dates, durations, speeds, total rotor revolutions, and notes on rotor condition.
e. Retire rotors after manufacturer’s recommended life span except where annual stress test demonstrates absence of structural flaws.

2. Planning for use
a. Complete lab-specific training for the centrifuge.
b. Wear appropriate PPE: Including safety eyewear, gloves, a lab coat, and appropriate street clothing (i.e., long pants and closed-toe shoes). Ensure gloves are compatible with hazard(s).
c. Inspect centrifuge:
Ensure tubes are rated for intended use (speed, temperature, and chemical resistance)
Rotor is compatible with centrifuge and seated on drive correctly
Rotor and safety cups/buckets are free of cracks and deformities
Rotor O-ring is not cracked, missing, or worn
Safety cups/buckets are attached correctly and able to move freely
Contact a qualified service technician if inspection identifies centrifuge components requiring repair or replacement.
d. Prepare centrifuge tubes for loading:
Inspect centrifuge tubes before use.
Follow manufacturer’s filling limits for tubes. Do not overfill or underfill tubes.
For biohazardous materials, disinfect outside of tubes prior to removal from biosafety cabinet and loading into rotor.
When centrifuging hazardous materials, use tightly capped tubes and/or sealable safety cups or rotors that can be loaded and unloaded in a fume-hood or biosafety cabinet, depending on hazard.
For high-speed centrifuges and ultracentrifuges, use an in-line filter in the vacuum line to prevent contamination of the vacuum pump and pump oil. Provide secondary containment for vacuum pump.

Balance centrifuge before start running the machine.

Note the following while using the centrifuge:
Do not leave centrifuge until full operating speed is reached and appears to be running safely without incident.
Stop centrifuge immediately if you notice any unusual noises or shaking. Confirm rotor is balanced.
To prevent rotor failure, do not exceed maximum speed and maximum mass limits for the rotor. You must reduce rotor speed if sample density calculations indicate maximum mass limits will be exceeded; contact manufacturer for guidance.

Stop run: Ensure centrifuge comes to complete stop before opening cover. When centrifuging hazardous materials, wait at least 10 minutes after run to allow aerosols to settle before opening centrifuge.
Check for leaks/spills: In samples, rotor, safety cups/buckets, and centrifuge well.
Open sealable tubes/safety cups/rotors: Wear appropriate PPE and open inside fume-hood or biosafety cabinet, depending on hazard.

Turn off centrifuge immediately and unplug power cord if you notice any unusual noises or shaking.
Do not use centrifuge again until inspected by qualified service technician.


Hazardous Material Spill/Exposure:
Turn off centrifuge immediately.
Keep centrifuge cover closed for at least 30 minutes to reduce aerosolization of hazardous material.