Certain protocols apply to working with hazardous chemicals in the laboratory system, one of which is the implementation of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). What’s a Chemical Hygiene Plan? To summarize it is mandatory requirements that would make a huge difference in protecting laboratory workers from harm due to hazardous chemicals they work with. Workplaces with laboratories are required to establish a Chemical Hygiene Plan under 29 CFR 1910.1450, the standard that contains information on occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories.
Hazardous chemicals contain various kinds of health and physical hazards like carcinogens, toxins that harm the kidneys and livers, sensitizers, corrosives and irritants. What elements should be included in a CHP? OSHA lists the following requirements in its Laboratory Safety Chemical Hygiene Plan fact sheet:
– The implementation of standard operating procedures for jobs with employee safety and health in mind
– Selecting the proper personal protective equipment, engineering controls (e.g. high walls and ceilings, ventilation systems), and administrative controls (e.g. employee access, safety procedures) that will minimize workers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals
– Ensuring that fume hoods and protective equipment are properly working and the maintenance of such devices
– Providing a comprehensive guide to workers and lab personnel that include a copy of the Laboratory safety standard; access points to a copy of the CHP; the permissible exposure limits (PELs) established and recommended by OSHA for hazardous chemicals; material safety data sheets and resources on the proper handling, disposal and storage of chemicals; and a list of symptoms to watch out for following occupational exposure.
– The assignment of a qualified person or leader who will implement the CHP and the assignment of a chemical hygiene committee and workplace chemical hygiene officer
– The submission of information on a laboratory operation that requires authorization
– Providing employees further protection for chemicals with a high level of toxicity, selected carcinogens and reproductive toxins. When handling such chemicals, workers should work at a designated area, use containment devices to reduce exposure, observe proper decontamination methods and disposal of hazardous substances.
– A yearly review and update—as needed—of the CHP.
The University of California Santa Barbara’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety notes that the CHP should be used and referred to heavily for lab safety and should not be seen as a “bureaucratic requirement that then gathers dust.” The website also advices employers and employees to highlight the CHP’s chapter pertaining to the use of Particularly Hazardous Substance or its equivalent.
Some additional resources: