Laboratory-Specific Safety Rules-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Laboratory-Specific Safety Rules

I would like to address a subject that arose twice in the last few months, regarding individual laboratory safety rules.

Certainly, we need to ensure that all laboratories follow the university safety policies as well as practices outlined in the Carnegie Mellon Chemical Hygiene Plan, an OSHA-enforceable document.  However, this is NOT to preclude individual laboratory Principal Investigators from establishing their own more stringent or more specific rules.  After all, the PIs are responsible for the safety of their own laboratories and rightly need to identify and enforce additional safety requirements when the laboratory conditions indicate.  In fact, this is encouraged by EH&S!

Not all university laboratories are alike.  There are differing quantities of hazardous materials present as well as different levels and types of hazards.  Additional requirements may be indicated when a lab is particularly crowded, or when certain patterns of activity and behavior are present.  Also, they may be indicated when the education and safety-awareness level of the occupants are considered.  And it is certainly appropriate to look at the laboratory history of accidents or “near misses” when identifying lab-specific safety requirements.  Some examples of additional lab-specific requirements we have noted are listed below:

  Typical Laboratory-Specific Requirements

•    Additional specifications as to laboratory attire
•    Additional specifications as to when protective equipment is to be worn
•    Additional specifications as to levels of supervision for certain lab occupants
•    Additional specifications as to which sorts of activities need to be approved or investigated before performing
•    Additional specifications as to higher levels of training required for certain lab activities.

As with all safety issues related to laboratories, please feel free to contact me or another of our EH&S staff for any questions.  We will happily assist or advise you as to any of this (or other) lab-specific requirements.