Chemical Safety Program

Chemical Safety Program



The purpose of UFV’s Chemical Safety Program is to provide a framework to establish a written program that can be used by all laboratory workers to carry out their work activities safely.

This program provides general information on the safe use, storage and disposal of chemicals in UFV  laboratories.  All laboratory supervisors are responsible for developing laboratory-­‐specific chemical safety programs that reflect work activities within their laboratories.  All laboratory workers are required to follow the safe practices outlined but not limited to the information in UFV’s Chemical Safety Program.

The Chemical Safety Program extends to all employees, faculty, students, researchers, contractors, subcontractors, and visitors. More specifically, this program applies to all University laboratory personnel who handle chemicals in research and teaching laboratories.



  • Identifying hazards and implementing appropriate control measures (e.g. ventilation, safe work practices and personal protective equipment) to minimize or eliminate them
  • Establishing standard safe work procedures appropriate for the
  • Training laboratory workers on the safe handling, use, storage and disposal of chemicals and hazardous laboratory procedures.
  • Conducting periodic formal and informal inspections of their areas for hazardous conditions, and promptly correcting unsafe work practices or hazardous
  • Providing the required personal protective
  • Ensuring that all safety equipment (e.g. fume hoods, emergency eyewash and showers) is in working order.
  • Providing training specific to the hazards and processes in the laboratory to all laboratory workers prior to the start of work or prior to starting an experiment never done before.


  • Observing established safety policies and procedures established by the University and any safe work procedures or guidelines established by the laboratory
  • Participating in laboratory-­‐specific training prior to starting work in the laboratory.
  • Reporting incidents, injuries, unsafe conditions, insecure conditions or threats to personal security and property to supervisor as soon as
  • Ensuring for the proper use and adequate care of personal protective
  • Seeking clarification from supervisor on laboratory procedures


Each laboratory should maintain an inventory of chemicals and update it as new chemicals are added; chemicals are used up or disposed of. A recommended template (Excel spreadsheet) is available from the Occupational Health & Safety Office (OHSO). A laboratory may create an alternate template provided the following fields of information are included:

Chemical Name, Quantity, Hazard Class (es); Date Received; Location; MSDS available and Date removed from inventory.


MSDSs must be in a readily accessible location in the laboratory and all workers should be informed on how to access the MSDSs. MSDSs can be in the electronic form provided a paper copy can be printed and workers know how to access this MSDSs. Each laboratory must have MSDSs corresponding to the chemicals listed in the inventory. WHMIS requires that MSDSs be less than 3 years old. MSDSs may be accessed from OHSO website via the online 3E system.


 All chemical containers must be labelled according to the requirements of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Two major types of labels are defined within WHMIS: supplier and worksite labels. Labels provide health and safety information to help protect the user and others in the laboratory. If chemicals are transferred from the original supplier container to a secondary container, the secondary container must be labeled – the label can be just the name of the chemical, or if it takes more than one work shift to use the contents of the secondary container or someone else in the laboratory may handle the container, then it must be labelled with a work site label that includes health & safety information. Sample labels are presented in Appendix E. For more information refer to the Laboratory Safety Manual.


 Identifying, assessing and managing hazards in the workplace are key components in maintaining a safe environment. A hazard is defined as a condition or behaviour that has the potential to cause injury or loss. The WorkSafe BC regulations require employers to conduct hazard assessments. Refer to Appendix F for information on conducting a hazard assessment. For further assistance with conducting hazard assessments contact the OHSO.

Most hazards can be classified into three main categories: chemical, biological or physical. Exposure to chemicals can occur during use or due to improper storage. The potential for harm is significant if chemicals are misused or mishandled. Similarly, biological hazards have the potential to cause harm if misused or mishandled. Physical hazards such as electrical safety, noise, equipment use and ergonomic concerns due to static postures or improper material handling also require attention. Hazards commonly encountered in research laboratories are listed in Tables 1 & 2 (Appendix A). This is by no means an all-­‐ inclusive list. It is expected that laboratories will use this as a guide to identify hazards in their laboratories.


 Hazard control methods are generally classified into three categories:

  • ENGINEERING CONTROLS: This is the preferred method of control because the hazard is eliminated or minimized at the source by substitution, isolation, automation or exhaust ventilation e.g. fume hoods or other local exhaust
  • ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES: When engineering controls are not possible then administrative procedures such as additional training, safe operating procedures, job rotation and effective repair and maintenance and housekeeping programs can also be implemented.
  • PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE): Personal protective equipment is used as a method of controlling hazards only when neither engineering controls nor administrative procedures can effectively minimize the impact of the hazard. PPE is considered a last line of defence because the potential for exposure has not been removed and any breach (e.g. improper fit or use) will result in worker

Sometimes a combination of two or more of the above control methods may be required to adequately control the hazard.


As a minimum, the following personal protective equipment must be worn by laboratory workers using chemicals or other hazardous materials that may come in contact with skin, or eyes. Please note that laboratory coats and gloves should be removed prior to leaving the laboratory or conducting activities that may contaminate other surfaces or equipment (e.g. using the computer, telephone etc.)

  • Safety glasses with side shields
  • Buttoned-­‐up laboratory coat (long sleeves)
  • Long pants (to the shoe)
  • Closed-­‐toe shoes
  • Appropriate gloves – No single glove type will protect against all chemicals. Gloves must be selected based on the type of chemical being used, duration of use and the method of use. Disposable gloves such as latex and nitrile gloves are commonly used in laboratories. The use of latex gloves is discouraged because they do not provide protection against many chemicals and also there is concern regarding the development of allergies or aggravating existing allergies. Nitrile gloves are generally more chemical resistant. Disposable gloves generally provide protection against incidental act; more specific (non-­‐disposable) gloves are required when extended contact with chemicals is expected. Glove manufacturers provide glove selection charts to assist with selection of an appropriate


Respiratory protective equipment is used to protect against exposure to airborne dust, gases, vapours, mists and aerosols. Respirators are used as a means of protection only after it has been determined that the airborne hazard cannot be controlled using engineering or administrative methods. The following steps assist in determining the need for a respirator:

  • Identify the airborne
  • Can the process be substituted with less hazardous materials?
  • Can the experiment/process be conducted in a fume hood or other ventilated enclosure?
  • Can safe work procedures and training be used to minimize the hazard?

Once it is determined that a respirator is required then, the following procedure must be followed prior to using a respirator:

  • Contact the OHSO for
  • OHSO personnel will then contact the respirator wearer to arrange a fit test. A fit test is done to ensure an appropriate respirator that fits properly and is comfortable to wear. The results of the fittest are shared with the user and their
  • Instructions on the proper use, care, maintenance and limitations of the respirator are also provided at that


WHMIS legislation requires all workers working with or in proximity to controlled products be trained in the safe use, handling storage and disposal of the controlled products. Workers are also required to know how to read and prepare labels and be able to understand information presented in MSDSs.  Generic training is provided through the online generic WHMIS course through OHSO. To supplement this training, Laboratory supervisors shall ensure that all workers in their laboratories receive health & safety training specific to the hazards present in the laboratory. Where a laboratory or core piece of equipment is shared by multiple user groups, the Laboratory Supervisors of these groups shall work together to provide cross-­‐ training to the groups on the various hazards associated with their individual projects.


Laboratory Supervisors should supplement general Department safety training with training specific to all chemical, biological, radiation or other hazards in their laboratories. The checklist in Appendix B identifies information/training that should be provided to all workers in the laboratory. The training may be completed by the laboratory Supervisor or their delegate.

The checklist is divided into various Sections. Below is a brief description to assist you in the provision of applicable training:

SAFETY RESOURCES: This Section lists the documentation, manuals, Material Safety Data Sheets, and other safety resources that are available to the worker and information that the worker should be aware of and refer to as necessary. Lab-­‐specific safe operating procedures identifying hazards associated with a specific experiment or process.

EMERGENCY&SAFETY EQUIPMENT: This Section lists the emergency equipment and personal protective equipment. It is extremely important that all workers are aware of the location of emergency equipment and know how to operate it before they start working with hazardous materials so they are able to access it without delay in the event of an emergency.

CHEMICAL, RADIATION AND BIOSAFETY: These Sections list the training and instruction that is required for workers working with chemicals, radioisotopes or biohazardous materials.

HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL: This Section identifies the need to discuss hazardous waste storage and disposal procedures in the lab with the users that will be generating the waste.

LABORATORY EQUIPMENT: Use this Section to train lab workers on the use of laboratory equipment that the worker will require to use, for example, centrifuges, ovens, rotoVaps, UV or x-­‐ray emitting devices.

Complete the checklist for each worker in the laboratory.

The supervisor and the worker must sign and date this document. The lab supervisor should retain a copy for recordkeeping and future review.

The checklist is designed to assist the laboratory Supervisor in the provision of laboratory-specific training for new workers. It is recommended this checklist be reviewed with workers on a regularly scheduled basis e.g. during their annual performance review as a means to update and ensure that the worker is trained to perform all identified tasks and/or job duties.


Assess each experiment or process prior to execution to ensure that appropriate control measures are used to protect the health and safety of the workers. Identify hazards at each step and implement appropriate controls for each step. Engineering (e.g. substitution for a less hazardous material, exhaust ventilation) and administrative controls should be considered first when reducing or eliminating associated hazards. Personal protective equipment should be selected carefully based on the hazard.

Discuss all new experiments and any changes (e.g. increase in quantities of reactants) with your supervisor prior to conducting the experiment.


Every effort must be made to ensure workers do not perform hazardous laboratory work alone. A working alone procedure is required when workers work alone in the laboratory. For more information on working alone at UFV, please contact the OHSO.


Laboratory Hazard Signs are required on every door of a public hallway or common access that leads into space where hazardous materials are stored and/or used. To request a new sign for a laboratory or support space (i.e. autoclave room, chemical storage room or cold room), please contact the OHSO.


It is preferable to store chemicals in appropriate acid and flammable storage cabinets.

If storage cabinets are not available, then store chemicals on shelves that are sturdy, and made of a material that is resistant to the chemicals being stored.


  • Store chemicals at or below eye
  • Store chemicals according to chemical compatibility groups. The MSDS provides information on special storage requirements, on compatibility and material
  • Do not store chemicals on the floor or under the
  • Separate chemicals into compatible groups, and then segregate these groups from each other by physical barriers or distance. Generally, inorganic and organic chemicals are stored separately, and liquids are separated from
  • Do not store chemicals alphabetically, as an overall storage system. Storing chemicals alphabetically is only acceptable within a specific hazard group, and only once that group has already been segregated from any other incompatible groups or


  • Perchloric Acid, Hydrofluoric Acid, and Concentrated Nitric Acid are separated from all other materials (including each other)
  • Inorganic acids (except as noted above)
  • Bases
  • Water reactive chemicals
  • Pyrophoric chemicals
  • Strong oxidizing agents
  • Strong reducing agents
  • Flammable and combustible liquids

Refer to the Laboratory Safety Manual for more information on storage of chemicals.

Hierarchy Of Controls For Hazardous Chemicals


Fume hoods are the most common engineering control in laboratories. Their sole purpose is to protect laboratory workers from exposure to airborne hazardous materials. Before beginning any work in the fume hood, confirm that the hood is operational. Check that the local ON/OFF switch is in the “ON” position. Adequate airflow and the absence of excessive air turbulence are necessary for the safe operation of a fume hood. To ensure continued safe operation:

  • Sash openings should be kept as far down as possible while working in the fume hood. When the fume hood is not in use, the sash should be completely
  • Do not block the air baffles at the back of the fume hood. Do not place anything closer than 3 cm (1 inch) from the back of the inside of the fume
  • Keep apparatus at least 15 cm (6 inches) away from the front of the fume hood. Use stands to elevate bulky apparatus so as to avoid disrupting the air flow through the fume
  • Keep the fume hood clean and uncluttered. Apparatus and chemicals should normally be kept in the fume hood only if they are a component of the operation for which the hood is being
  • Do not use fume hoods for long-­‐term storage of chemicals or
  • Do not modify the interior of the hood (e.g., installing shelves). Some of the older fume hoods may have asbestos-­‐containing
  • Minimize foot traffic around the fume hood. A person walking past a fume hood can create turbulence, causing contaminants to flow
  • Keep windows and doors near fume hoods closed. Open windows and doors can disrupt
  • Do not use fans near fume hoods. Fans in the laboratory can cause turbulence that can disrupt proper air flow throughout the fume
  • Read and understand fume hood operations manual prior to using fume


All workers in the laboratory must know what actions are to be taken in the event of an emergency. All workers must be aware to call 911 for fire, police & medical emergencies.


EYES: Flush with water 15 minutes. Seek immediate medical attention.

SKIN: Flush with water for 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing. Seek medical attention.

INGESTION: Drink water and seek medical attention. Do not induce vomiting.

INHALATION: Remove the victim from exposure and move to fresh air. If a person is not breathing or experiencing breathing difficulty, seek medical attention.


  • Develop spill clean-­‐up protocols for the chemicals in the
  • Ensure a spill kit with appropriate spill cleaning supplies and equipment is readily accessible in a conspicuously marked location.
  • Ensure all workers in the laboratory are trained in the proper spill clean-­‐up
  • Refer to UFV’s Chemical Spill Response Guideline


  • Stay clear and warn others in the immediate area of the
  • Isolate the area around the
  • Assist injured or contaminated persons if you are trained to do
  • Assess the situation, and determine if it constitutes an emergency. Call 911 if it is a fire or life emergency
  • Proceed to clean-­‐up the spill if it is minor, spill clean-­‐up supplies and equipment are and trained local personnel are able to clean it
  • Call EXT 7770 if assistance is


In the event of a fire:

  • Warn others in the immediate area of the fire or
  • Activate the building fire alarm
  • Contain the fire by closing doors and fume hoods in the area of the
  • Evacuate the area of the fire or explosion and the building. Use stairs, not the
  • Call 911 and provide details of the fire
  • Meet emergency personnel at the main entrance to the building


 All incidents must be reported to the Laboratory Supervisor and the OHSO immediately. Complete the incident report form on the OHSO website and OHSO personnel will be in touch to conduct an investigation.


 Regular workplace inspections play a key role in preventing accidents and injuries by identifying hazards, implementing corrective measures, and monitoring the effectiveness of the controls. it is recommended that laboratory supervisors conduct inspections of their work areas on a monthly basis. A generic inspection checklist is included in Appendix C. Customize this form so as to meet the specific circumstances of your own laboratory.


 At UFV all precautions are followed when handling, storing and using laboratory chemicals for hazardous waste. Waste containers should be kept closed at all times, except when contents are being added. Do not leave filter funnels in the open necks of containers, even if the waste is in a fume hood. Fume hoods are not to be treated as a worry-­‐free method of waste containment or disposal.

Waste should be separated as follows:

  • Separate liquid and solid
  • Separate liquid organic waste from liquid aqueous
  • Separate strong acids and bases from other aqueous

The system is designed to streamline the waste handling process and enables users and disposal personnel to process the removal and disposal of hazardous materials in a timely and efficient manner.

Please contact the Facilities Department for further information.


Sharps should be disposed of in specially designed sharps disposal unit, or another appropriate puncture-proof container with a lid. Sharps include needle/syringe assemblies, broken glassware, hard plastic, and any object with a jagged or sharp edge that can puncture a plastic bag or potentially cause injury to someone handling the material.


Clean glassware can be disposed of in specially provided glass collection containers. Contaminated glassware that cannot be effectively de-­‐contaminated and cleaning must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Chemical Safety Quiz

Related Articles:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *