When working in a laboratory, safety is always the prime concern. An essential initial step when performing any laboratory operation is identifying the hazards that employees may face. This requires knowing the job well enough to break it into components and accessing all the information and knowledge available to recognize the hazards that may be encountered for each step of any process. This training session addresses hazard identification. Hazard identification skills enable trainees to protect themselves AND also create a safer workplace for everyone at the laboratory. By the time the session is over, trainees should be able to:
- Recognize the importance of hazard identification and its function in the risk assessment process;
- Identify the myriad sources of information about hazards in the laboratory; and
- Identify the hazards involved in laboratory operations.
Why “Laboratory Hazard Identification” Matters:
Several Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace standards are especially relevant to hazard identification in the laboratory:
The Laboratory Standard is designed to ensure that anyone who works in a laboratory is protected from the hazards presented by the materials they may use or encounter at work.
The Hazard Communication Standard (“The Right to Know”) requires that employees are provided with accurate information about chemical hazards in the workplace, primarily via the product warning label and the Safety Data Sheet(SDS).
Additional standards also apply to certain aspects of laboratory work. For instance, the OSHA respiratory standard, the compressed gas standard, and rules on certain materials used in the lab, such as formaldehyde, are specific OSHA standards applicable to laboratory work.
The federal government has also established exposure limits for certain materials known to present hazards. These are known as Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).
The main points from this session include:
- Hazard identification is essential to safety and is a component of every operation in the laboratory;
- Hazard identification is largely a matter of finding and making use of accurate information about all the hazards you may face;
- Information comes from a variety of sources, so know and use the appropriate sources;
- Finally, be sure you have identified and are prepared to control all hazards before any work operation.