Laboratory Administration & Management of Pathology Practices

Lab safety

Chemical hygiene

Topic Completed: 1 May 2016

Minor changes: 3 March 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: chemical hygiene[title]

Dan Scungio, M.T., A.S.C.P.
Page views in 2020: 219
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Cite this page: Scungio D. Chemical hygiene . website. Accessed October 22nd, 2021.
Definition / general
  • The work performed in clinical and anatomical pathology laboratories is made possible through the use of several different types of hazardous chemicals
  • The hazards posed by these chemicals vary, and proper chemical management is imperative to ensure the safety of laboratory personnel
    OSHA and the EPA act as chemical management regulatory agencies to oversee the proper shipment, storage and handling of hazardous chemicals in the laboratory
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
      • 29 CFR 1910.1200 - Hazard Communication - 1987
      • 29 CFR 1910.1450 - Chemical Hygiene Standard - 1990
        • Supersedes Hazard Communication of 1987 - for laboratories only
        • The Hazard Communication Standard was revised in 2012 in order to adopt the Globally Harmonized System for the classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS), a worldwide effort to standardize chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • College of American Pathologists (CAP)
    • Laboratory general inspection checklist
    • Anatomic pathology inspection checklist
    Laboratory requirements:
    • Written chemical hygiene plan
      • Updated annually
      • Standard operating procedures

    • Environmental monitoring
      • Perform on chemicals such as xylene and formaldehyde

    • Employee education
      • Train all staff on chemical hazards, proper chemical management

    • Engineering controls
      • Remove the hazard from the workplace
      • Example: chemical fume hoods with proper ventilation

    • Work practice controls
      • Provides a procedure to protect the employee from the hazard
      • Example: when pouring chemicals, work under a hood and use goggles, a cover gown and gloves

    • Personal protective equipment
      • Provide lab coats, chemical-resistant gloves, face protection

    • Chemical storage
      • Do NOT store alphabetically by name
      • Use a chemical incompatibility chart to prevent storage errors

    • Chemical inventory
      • Updated annually
      • Electronic format is preferred
      • Exempt chemicals: those in kit form or that contain less than 1% of a hazardous chemical
      • Note carcinogens
      • Note acutely and reproductively toxic chemicals

    • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each hazardous chemical should be available

    • Proper labeling of chemicals
    • Chemical waste
      • Check local regulations and sewage treatment plant for capacity before disposing of anything down the drain
      • Consider other waste handling options:
        • Removal by outside firm
        • Neutralizing
        • Recycling

    • Medical exam for overexposure
      • Follow up for any high vapor badge monitor readings or accidental chemical exposures

    • Documentation

  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS):
    • Needed for each hazardous chemical in your inventory
    • Access quickly for exposures and spills
    • GHS format has 16 standard sections
    • Keep for 30 years if chemical has been involved in an exposure incident
    Chemical labeling:
    • Primary chemical label must contain:
      • Product name
      • Signal word (either warning or danger)
      • Any needed hazard statements
      • Precautionary statements
      • Pictograms
      • Manufacturer name, address and telephone number
      • See figure 1

    • Secondary chemical label must contain:
      • Option 1:
        • Name of the chemical
        • Concentration
        • Route of entry
        • Health hazard
        • Physical hazard
        • Target organs affected
        • Lot number and expiration date
      • Option 2:
        • Name of the chemical
        • NFPA or HMIS label that is filled out to indicate the potential hazards
      • Option 3:
        • Name of the chemical
        • GHS signal word
        • Appropriate pictograms

    Contributed by OSHA

    Figure 1

    Administrative requirements:
    • Name a Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) for the laboratory
      • Responsible for chemical management administrative duties
      • CHO should be in job description
      • Perform task assessments for processed involving chemicals
    • Assemble a safety committee
      • Perform safety audits
      • Discuss safety issues / incidents

  • Chemical spill handling:
    • Provide spill response training for all staff that handles chemicals
    • Confine or contain the spill
    • Small quantities of inorganic acids or bases - use a neutralizing agent
    • Small quantities of other materials - absorb with towels or spill pillows
    • Large quantities of inorganic acids or basis - flush with large amounts of water
    • Mop or sweep up the spill (see figure 2)
    • Dispose of waste in proper receptacles
    • If spilled chemical is volatile, let it evaporate

  • Annual review of chemical management:
    • Analyze effectiveness of your chemical hygiene plan
      • Review chemical inventory
      • Review training
      • Review chemical incidents
    • Use substitutes for hazardous chemicals where possible
    • Reduce hazardous waste volumes
    • Remove outdated chemicals

Contributed by Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)

Figure 2

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