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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 21

Industrial Hygiene – Laboratory Protection Program

21.1 Purpose. To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) requirements for providing personnel adequate protection from chemical, physical, and/or biological stressors, such as noise, chemical exposures, excessive temperatures, dusts, mists, and vapors within the Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS).

21.2 References.

A.  29 CFR 1910.1450, Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories.

B.  29 CFR 1910.1450, Appendix A, National Research Council Recommendations Concerning Chemical Hygiene in Laboratories.

C.  29 CFR 1910.1200, Hazard Communication.

21.3 Scope.

A.  The purpose of this chapter is to define the policy and procedures for the implementation of the USGS Laboratory Protection Program. This chapter applies to all USGS personnel with potential for on-the-job exposure to chemical and biological hazards in laboratory environments, and defines organizational responsibilities applicable to laboratory start-up, transfer, and closure. The goal is to provide USGS personnel with a safe laboratory working environment by ensuring that laboratories are operated from start-up to closure in compliance with Federal, State, and local safety, health, and environmental regulations. Shops and other locations where hazardous materials are used in other than laboratory situations shall comply with Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) requirements (Chapter 20).

B.  Careful planning is the key to minimizing the potential hazards associated with laboratory work activities. Laboratory work activities include sampling and collection of samples, storage of bottles in a vehicle, transportation to the project office, processing bottles for shipment, receiving, preparing, analyzing, storing, and disposing of samples.

C.  To protect USGS laboratory personnel and property, a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is required for activities where multiple chemical procedures and/or small quantities of hazardous materials are used on a laboratory scale. A template CHP is available for downloading at

21.4. Requirements.

A.  A laboratory specific CHP shall be developed for each laboratory using hazardous materials. A generic template CHP that can be tailored to meet location needs is located at

B.  Laboratory personnel shall be provided with chemical information and training in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1450(f).

C.  Medical surveillance shall be provided to laboratory personnel as required by 29 CFR 1910.1450(g). Female personnel of childbearing age shall be informed of reproductive hazards in the laboratory. These personnel shall notify their supervisors as soon as pregnancy is known and shall be referred for medical consultation. If after consulting a physician, the individual requests a change of work assignment, reasonable effort shall be made to accommodate the request.

D.  Liquid and solid hazardous materials and waste must be handled and disposed of in accordance with the transportation and handling procedures as outlined in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations (DOT 49 CFR #171-173), and the disposal and containment of hazardous materials and waste, as outlined in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulations (USEPA 40 CFR #261 and #262).

(1)  Collecting and Processing Samples.

(a)  All samples must be treated as hazardous and potentially biohazardous.

(b)  Strict personal hygiene must be enforced when processing samples.

(c)  Use of personal protective equipment or engineering controls must be available to prevent direct contact with the samples.

(d)  Plans, equipment, and materials for decontamination of known or potential hazards must be available.

(e)  Procedures that maintain chain-of-custody requirements must be established, followed, and documented.

(f)  Secure sample storage space must be available at the sampling sites and project/office laboratories.

(2)  Packaging and Labeling Samples. Samples shall be carefully packaged the same way as regular samples; however, they are to be clearly labeled and segregated from regular samples by double bagging them separately.

(a)  Individual sample bottles and shipping packages (coolers/ice chests) shall be clearly labeled.

(b)  The shipping packages shall be carefully sealed with tape to prevent the top of the package from opening during transit.

(3)  Analytical Service Request. In addition to the usual information (site identification, coordinates, schedules, laboratory codes, field data, and other information), it is important to record in the “remarks” section any unusual occurrences observed while inspecting or working at the site. Unusual occurrences could be odor, color, quality of the run-off streams, and so forth. The information provided will warn laboratory workers of known hazards so that they can wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

(4)  Laboratory Handling of Sample Bottles.

(a)  A written procedure of receiving and processing samples must be established. The procedure must include safety practices dealing with breakage and spillage of samples inside the shipping containers.

(b)  All samples known or suspected to be hazardous shall be flagged appropriately to warn laboratory workers of known hazards/unusual occurrences at the site.

(c)  Coolers/ice chests used to ship samples shall be cleaned (decontaminated) if there is any breakage or spillage from the samples.

(5)  Chemical Procurement.

(a)  The least amount of chemical necessary to perform the assigned work shall be ordered. For chemicals where there is a long term recurring need blanket purchase orders should be established so chemicals can be ordered as required and not stockpiled within the lab.

(b)  Prior to ordering new chemicals, safety and health data for that chemical shall be reviewed to determine if there are any special use, handling, storage, or disposal requirements that cannot be presently accommodated in the laboratory.

(c)  Every effort shall be made to minimize quantities and volumes of hazardous materials and wastes used and generated.

(6)  Mailing of Hazardous Materials. Certain hazardous materials that cannot be mailed and others that need special preparation before mailing. Personnel are responsible for compliance with postal laws and regulations governing preparation and mailing, as well as other laws and regulations pertaining to the shipment of harmful matter. Detailed information on special mailing rules and regulations are contained in the “Domestic Mail Manual” (DMM), TL-5, 7/7/81, issue 6. The following extractions from that publication describe harmful matter that should not be mailed and the procedure to follow if chemicals must be mailed.

(a)  Part 124.142 describes harmful matter as follows: “Harmful matter also includes that which is likely to destroy, deface, or otherwise damage the mails or postal equipment, or which is likely to harm postal employees, such as caustic poisons (acids and alkalies), oxidizing materials, or highly flammable liquids, gases or solids; or which is likely under conditions incident to transportation to cause fires through friction, through absorption of moisture, through spontaneous chemical changes, or as a result of retained heat from manufacturing or processing; explosives or containers previously used for shipping high explosives having a liquid ingredient (such as dynamite); ammunition; fireworks; radioactive materials; matches; or articles emitting obnoxious odors.”

(b)  Part 124.31 discusses chemicals as follows: “The great variety of chemical compositions precludes the listing of each such item that may be mailed and each such item that may not be mailed. The acceptability of chemicals for mailing generally depends upon container fluid/vapor capacities, the ability of the complete package to contain the product, and the method of absorbing and containing the product in case of accidental leakage of the primary container. To permit mail determinations on specific products, the following information is required. This information on the chemical and physical properties of a product coupled with consultation with the local postmaster will allow a determination to be made on whether or not a chemical is acceptable in the mails.  Acids in vials should be considered non-mailable. Procurement of all chemicals with shipment direct from the supplier or the central laboratory to your organization will insure proper shipment with a minimum chance of accidental breakage.”

(i) Name of material.

(ii) Chemical composition by percentage of ingredients.

(iii) Flash point.

(iv) Toxic properties.

(v) Irritant action to eyes and skin.

(vi) Special precautions necessary to permit handling to avoid harm to postal personnel or property or other mail matter.

(vii) Explanation of warning labels required by State or Federal regulations.

(viii)Proposed method of packaging.

(7)  Exposure Control and Monitoring.

(a)  All chemical exposures, regardless of toxicity, shall be minimized.

(b)  To minimize exposure to all chemical operations in the laboratory, even those involving chemicals of low toxicity, should be carried out within a laboratory fume hood.

(c)  Generally air monitoring is not justified if chemical operations are performed by trained personnel under properly functioning laboratory fume hoods. However, air monitoring shall be performed if there is reason to believe exposure levels may exceed the action level for that substance.

(d)  Laboratory start-up, closure, or modification shall be coordinated with the appropriate Collateral Duty Safety/Environmental Program Coordinator or Regional Safety Manager/Officer as applicable, as soon as possible but no less than 90 daysprior to proposed action.

(e)  Hazardous laboratory waste should be disposed of in accordance with locally established guidelines in compliance with this Handbook. CHP’s include written spill cleanup procedures in effect for handling sample and identify spill cleanup equipment and material. These items must be available, and personnel must have a clear understanding of how to use them. The location of these items must be easily accessible wherever a spill could occur.

(f)  Current chemical inventories shall be maintained for all laboratories.

(g)  Chemicals with a health hazard rating of 3 or higher, as shown in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) shall have a minimum average hood face velocity of 80 feet per minute. Chemicals with highly toxic, carcinogenic, or reproductive hazards should have a hood equipped with an alarm that activates if centerline face velocity drops below 80 feet per minute. If hood average face velocities exceed 150 feet per minute then smoke testing will be used to determine detrimental air turbulence created by the hood. Immediate corrective action shall be taken or the operation halted.

(8)  USGS protocols for collecting, shipping, and analyzing samples that may contain pfiesteria. Pfiesteria are microscopic marine dinoflagellates that produce toxins that have caused fish kills and lesions on fish in coastal waters along the eastern United States. Human health effects from exposure to pfiesteria toxins include flu-like symptoms, skin disorders, respiratory infections, and memory loss. Human health effects result from two primary pathways: inhaling chemical toxins produced by certain life stages of the organism, and direct contact with water, bottom sediments, or fish affected by pfiesteria. The effects on humans can be treated medically. Additional information on the human health impacts of pfiesteria can be found at the USGS Web site

(9)  Sample Disposal Procedures. The storage and disposal procedure of samples and laboratory waste streams must be followed in accordance with the appropriate USEPA regulations. Documentation is the determining factor to establish baselines for appropriate disposal.

21.5 Responsiblities.

A.  Bureau Safety Manager/Bureau Industrial Hygienist.

(1)  Evaluates the effectiveness of the USGS laboratory protection program annually and modifies procedures and requirements on a Bureau, as necessary.

(2)  Evaluates Regional Headquarters/regional science program and laboratory protection programs during on-site evaluations as feasible.

(3)  Keeps abreast of current laboratory technology, provide technical assistance, and assists organizations in administration and implementation of the laboratory protection program.

B. Regional Safety Manager.

(1)  Provides regional laboratory protection program guidance and oversight.

(2)  Evaluates the effectiveness of the regional laboratory protection program annually and takes actions to assist in program improvement/enhancement, as necessary.

(3)  Provides assistance to Regional Safety Officers in development of CHP’s.

(4)  Evaluates Regional Headquarters and regional science programs and plans to include procedures for laboratory startup, modification and closureduring on-site inspections and assessments to provide uniform quality and implementation.

(5)  Provides assistance to Regional Safety Officers and Collateral Duty Safety and Environmental Program Coordinators and Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO’s) in assessing start-ups, modifications, and closures of laboratories located at regional science program field facilities.

C. Regional Safety Officer.

(1)  Evaluates the effectiveness of science program field level laboratory protection programs during on-site evaluations and takes actions to assist in program improvement/enhancement, as necessary.

(2)  Provides assistance to field management and CHO’s in development of CHP’s.

(3)  Conducts reviews and monitoring functions of field level science programs and plans, as needed, to provide uniform quality and implementation.

(4)  Provides assistance to field level science program management and Collateral Duty Safety and Environmental Program Coordinators/CHO in development of laboratory start-up, modification, and closure.

D. Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO’s).

(1)  Assist supervisors in the development of CHP’s, and review annually for completeness and accuracy in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1450 and the requirements of this chapter.

(2)  Coordinate with supervisors and employees to assure an inventory of hazardous materials is maintained for all assigned laboratories.

(3)  Coordinate and/or assist in conducting CHP employee training.

(4)  Assist supervisors and employees in obtaining MSDS’s and other hazardous chemical safety information.

(5)  Review all laboratory accidents involving hazardous chemicals and recommend steps to prevent recurrence of similar accidents.

(6)  Review procedures for procurement of lab chemicals ensuring procedures include provisions for obtaining organizational approval for ordering highly toxic or hazardous substances.

(7)  Coordinate or conduct laboratory hood face velocity measurements at least annually to determine adequacy, recording the average face velocity, date, and sash height at which the measurements were taken and assessor’s initials on the hood. If face velocities are inadequate the hood shall not be used for work with toxic chemicals until corrective action is taken.

E. Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator (CDSPC).

(1)  Provides assistance to the CHO and supervisors, as necessary, to assure implementation of CHP requirements and for laboratory startups, closures, and modifications.

(2)  Coordinates with Regional Safety Manager/Officer, as applicable, to review/approve field organizational documentation for lab start-up, modification, and closure and provides recommendations, as required.

F. Organizational Managers and Supervisors/Project Chiefs/Laboratory Supervisors.

(1)  Designate a CHO and provide appropriate training.

(2)  Implement a laboratory protection program in accordance with OSHA, DOI, and applicable USGS requirements for all laboratory facilities within their jurisdiction.

(3)  Coordinate laboratory start-up, closure, or modification with appropriate Collateral Duty Safety/Environmental Program Coordinator and/or Regional Safety Manager/Officer as soon as possible but no less than 90 days prior to proposed action. Accompany Collateral Duty Safety/Collateral Duty Environmental Program Coordinator and/or Regional Safety Manager/Officer personnel during inspection of subject laboratory and take corrective action as required to abate identified deficiencies.

(4)  Oversee the development and implementation of a written CHP and standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for all hazardous lab activities and review for appropriateness and update whenever laboratory operations change or at least annually.

(5)  Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and mandate use by all personnel.

(6)  Maintain good housekeeping practices and verify that equipment such as safety showers, eyewashes, and ventilation systems are in good working order.

(7)  Provide laboratory personnel CHP training in accordance with this chapter.

(8)  Oversee the conduct of laboratory inspections and abatement of identified deficiencies in a timely manner.

(9)  Maintain an accurate chemical inventory for all laboratories.

(10)  Establish procedures for monitoring chemicals with expiration dates.

(11)  Establish a mechanism for supervisory approval before personnel are allowed to work with highly toxic or hazardous materials.

(12)  Provide personnel access to medical surveillance as required.

(13)  Provide personnel with information and training to ensure that they are apprised of the hazards of chemicals present in their work area. Such information shall be provided at the time of personnel initial assignment to a work area where hazardous chemicals are present and prior to assignments involving new exposure situations with refresher training provided every 3 years. Personnel initial and refresher training shall include methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.); the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the work area; the measures personnel can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the USGS has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and protective equipment to be used; and applicable CHP details.

G. Personnel.

(1)  Properly store and label all chemical containers within the workplace.

(2)  Practice good personal hygiene around hazardous materials such as washing hands after handling chemicals, using and maintaining the clean condition of required PPE, not smoking, and not consuming or storing food/drink in areas where hazardous materials are used/stored.

(3)  Report to the line supervisor any hazardous conditions, exposures, or unusual circumstances associated with assigned operations.

(4)  Provide input in the development of CHP’s and SOP’s and plan and conduct all laboratory operations in accordance with established guidelines.

(5)  Participate in maintaining chemical inventories for their areas.

(6)  Participate in related safety, health, and environmental training programs.

21.6. Additional Resources.

(1)  Exposure Limits for Air Contaminants,

(2) Chemical Glove Resistance Guide,

(3) Chemical Compatibility Chart (Guide),

(4) Material Safety Data Sheet Search

(5) Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (NOAA) Terminology,

(6) Chemical Emergency Response Guidebook,

(7) NIOSH Pocket Guide To Hazardous Chemicals,

(8) Guidelines for Chemical Waste Management Water Resources Laboratories

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
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Last modification: 14-Jul-2009@08:03 (kk)