Laboratory Safety: The Supervisor's Role

Course Description

While all workers in the lab are responsible for contributing to a safe working environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires supervisors to play an important role in identifying and avoiding hazards, maintaining a clean and safe lab, training employees, preparing for emergencies, and keeping records. This training session will help laboratory supervisors understand the specifics of their role in implementing and demonstrating safe lab procedures. This training session will help trainees gain a better understanding of their role as a supervisor in implementing and maintaining chemical hygiene and safety in the laboratory. Trainees will be able to identify the relevant OSHA standard for laboratory safety and discuss major components and requirements. By the end of this session trainees will be able to:

  • Describe the supervisor’s role,
  • Identify the appropriate OSHA standard,
  • Discuss key components,
  • Identify hazards and how to avoid them, and
  • Relay lab safety procedures to others.

Duration: 36 minutes

Why "Laboratory Safety: The Supervisor's Role" Matters

While all workers are subject to OSHA’s Laboratory Standard, overall responsibility for chemical hygiene and lab safety lies with the laboratory supervisor. The standard outlines specific duties for the supervisor, including:

  • Ensuring that upon hiring or assignment, and periodically thereafter, all workers know the chemical hygiene rules applicable to your lab and ensuring that they are followed. It is your responsibility to discuss the nature of the research being conducted and the chemical, physical, and biological hazards that are present.
  • Ensuring that employees are using safe handling techniques.
  • Ensuring that appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE, is available and in working order.
  • Planning and overseeing regular, formal chemical hygiene and housekeeping inspections, including routine inspections of emergency equipment to ensure that equipment is in working order, instructions are clear, and employees know how to use them.
  • Knowing which substances are being used in the lab and any legal requirements for those substances, including handling, storage, and labeling. This information must also be relayed to all lab employees. Material safety data sheets, or MSDSs, for each substance should be on hand and accessible to all employees.
  • And finally, when ordering substances for use in the lab, you should evaluate your lab to determine that the appropriate storage facilities exist and that all required training is fulfilled before that substance is used.

Key Points

The key points from this course include:

  • Overall responsibility for chemical hygiene and lab safety lies with you.
  • Diligent housekeeping and regular inspections can help avoid many hazards.
  • Appropriate personal protection must be available.
  • Increasing your knowledge of the chemicals in use and relaying that knowledge to your co-workers boosts safety.
  • Detailed recordkeeping is essential.
  • By taking responsibility and getting others to do the same, we cultivate a culture of safety.

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