Laboratory Hazard Assessments

Optimizing safety in the research or instructional setting requires an accurate assessment of hazards associated with laboratory activities and implementation of measures that effectively manage the risks posed by these hazards. The assessment and management of risk is an ongoing process and must be continually evaluated to reflect changes in the materials involved, equipment used, activities performed, scope of work and location where work is conducted. Hazard assessments must be performed for all research and instructional activities.

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When Do You Complete a Laboratory Hazard Assessment?

Hazard assessments must be conducted and documented prior to beginning procedures or work involving materials or processes that may pose a physical or health hazard to laboratory personnel.

What is the purpose of a Laboratory Hazard Assessment?

The purpose of a hazard assessment is to identify and characterize the relevant hazards associated with laboratory activities, anticipate contingencies, and determine appropriate safety controls (training, equipment, personal protective equipment, work procedures and response procedures) to optimize safety and minimize the risks associated with the work being conducted.

Which Types of Activities Require Development of a Laboratory Hazard Assessment?

Hazard assessments for the following activities must be documented and maintained in the Laboratory-specific Safety Plan in the location where work is performed.

  • All processes involving the use of hazardous materials
  • Work involving Class 3b and 4 lasers
  • Work with nanomaterials
  • Work involving a chemical not evaluated with an existing assessment

Who Conducts a Laboratory Hazard Assessment?

The Principal Investigator or Laboratory Supervisor is ultimately responsible for safety in their laboratory and for making sure that hazard assessments are accurate and current, safety controls are adequate, and personnel are appropriately trained. Laboratory Hazard Assessments must be readily available to workers and should be included in lab specific training.

Laboratory staff and students should complete a hazard assessment prior to starting any new experimental procedures. Staff and students should review the hazard assessment with their supervisor and obtain approval from their supervisor for any work involving particularly hazardous substances.

EHS assists laboratories in identifying those hazards and activities that require a lab hazard assessment, and works with laboratories to characterize risks associated with their work and evaluate safety controls and risk mitigation strategies to optimize safety in the laboratory.

How to Document a Laboratory Hazard Assessment

Chemical Hazard Assessments

Registering Specific Hazards
Biohazards and work subject to NIH guidelines
Radioactive material and radiation producing instruments – Diann to update
Class 3B and 4 lasers
Human or Animal Subjects

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