Employers are required to provide a chemical hygiene plan under 29 CFR 1910.1450 to ensure the protection of lab employees. Among other things, the plan must address:
- Standard operating procedures relevant to the safe handling of hazardous chemicals
- Engineering controls, personal protective equipment and hygiene practices
- Proper operating conditions for lab equipment including fume hoods
- Employee training information
- Provisions for medical attention and examinations
- Use of containment devices such as fume hoods or glove boxes
- Proper removal of contaminated waste and decontamination procedures
Review and update the plan annually to meet your labs changing needs. Each lab can decide how often to conduct an extensive facility audit; however, biannually or annually is suggested.
For proper recordkeeping, an inspection checklist makes things easier. Set up a checklist that includes the following areas:
- Proper signage - Is the chemical hygiene plan posted? Are labels on chemical containers present and in good condition? Is there more than 10 gallons of flammable liquid outside of proper storage cabinet? Are acids and bases stored together? Are cylinders secured from tipping? Are new reagent containers dated when opened? Are biohazardous agents properly labeled?
- Safety - Is an eye wash present and holding current inspection? Are lab coats worn? Is food or drink present in the lab? Is access to the lab area restricted at all times? Are work surfaces and furniture decontaminated throughout the day and recorded? Is mouth pipetting prohibited? Do personnel wash hands properly and remove gloves before leaving the lab? Is the lab overcrowded?
- Biosafety Cabinets/Fume Hoods - Are cabinets located away from doors, windows that open and heavy traffic areas? Has the cabinet been certified within the last year? Are there emergency shut-off valves for the gas and vacuum supply?
- Centrifuges - Are counterbalance tubes weighed on a scale? Has the unit been serviced within the last 12 months to ensure no stress fractures or pitting?
- Autoclaves - Is quality control and assurance testing performed on a regular basis and recorded? Is the area around the equipment free of clutter? Is secondary containment used when autoclaving infectious waste bags, sharps containers, reusable glassware, etc.? Is the autoclave rack used during each cycle?
- Waste Disposal - Is infectious waste identified and disposed of properly? Is it decontaminated prior to disposal? Are infectious materials labeled with the universal biohazard symbol?
- Sharps - Are sharps containers in use? Is needle recapping allowed? Are needle nipping devices in use? Are needles and syringes disposed of as a unit?
- Training - Have all personnel completed an introduction to laboratory and biological safety training? Is annual update training provided and recorded? Is bloodborne pathogen training and an annual update provided and recorded? Has proper training been done for personnel who ship and package infectious or biological substances?
- Administrative - Is a current exposure control plan available in the lab and reviewed annually by employees? Are biohazard spill response procedures and emergency phone numbers posted?