1: Introduction

This Chemical Hygiene Plan describes policies, procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by many hazardous chemicals used in laboratories. This Plan is intended to meet the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard, Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, a copy of which is found in Appendix A.

This Chemical Hygiene Plan is intended to safely limit laboratory workers' exposure to OSHA-regulated substances. Laboratory workers must not be exposed to substances in excess of the permissible exposure limits (PEL) specified in OSHA rule 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances. The University of Minnesota Lab Safety Plan contains an appendix that displays PELs for regulated substances. PELs refer to the airborne concentrations of substances, and are averaged over an eight-hour day. A few substances (listed under Individual Chemical Standard in the Federal column) also have "action levels". Action levels are air concentrations below the PEL which nevertheless require that certain actions such as medical surveillance and workplace monitoring take place.

An employee's workplace exposure to any regulated substance must be monitored if there is reason to believe that the exposure will exceed an action level or a PEL. If exposures to any regulated substance routinely exceed an action level or permissible exposure level, employee medical-exposure-surveillance must be conducted.

This standard applies where "laboratory use" of hazardous chemicals occurs. Laboratory use of hazardous chemicals means handling or use of such chemicals in which all of the following conditions are met:

  • the handling or use of chemicals occurs on a "laboratory scale", that is, the work involves containers which can easily and safely be manipulated by one person,
  • multiple chemical procedures or chemical substances are used, and
  • protective laboratory practices and equipment are available and in common use to minimize the potential for employee exposures to hazardous chemicals.

At a minimum, this definition covers employees (including student employees, technicians, supervisors and lead researchers) who use chemicals in all biology teaching and research laboratories at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University (CSB/SJU). Certain non-traditional laboratory settings such as chemical use during field trips are included under this standard.

Although this standard deals only with use of hazardous chemicals, employees may also encounter potential physical, biological or radioactive hazards in the laboratory. Regulations and guidelines for these situations that are in effect at the CSB/SJU include Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Each faculty or staff member should check the list for standards that may apply to their laboratory operations.
In the unlikely event that there is a conflict between provisions of various standards, contact the Biology Safety Committee Chair, Dr. Ellen Jensen, or the Environmental Health and Safety office to assist in resolving the discrepancy.