Below is a list of common tactics to mitigate hazards in lab environments. Hazard mitigation tools have specific goals and are to be applied in a heirarchical manner as ordered below. Click on a topic or scroll down to learn more about each area.
In general, it is best to rely on effective engineering and administrative controls to minimize hazard risk, and rely on PPE only after all reasonable engineering and administrative controls have been put in place but further protection is needed for remaining risks.
Engineering controls are lab systems or features that protect all workers by reducing or eliminating the hazard. This is typically done by elimination of the hazard, removal of the hazard from the lab, sequestering or containment of the hazard, or reducing the risk from the hazard.
Examples of engineering controls include:
- fume hood or other local exhaust system
- sharps container
- flammable liquids cabinet
- safety shields on tools
- “glove boxes” to contain hazardous materials
- interlocks to eliminate hazard risk
Administrative controls are based on administrative processes to reduce the risk of injury in the laboratory. The processes include documentation, record keeping, having clear procedures, etc. Administrative controls serve to inform and educate lab personnel about lab hazards as well as provide oversight to make sure these controls are in place. The following are examples of administrative controls.
- Lab safety manual set. See how to create or revise a lab safety manual for your lab.
- Task-specific procedures. Follow the link for “Blank Lab SOP Template” for more information.
- Boise State EHSS policies, guidelines and programs
- Laboratory safety notebooks. See how to create and assemble a lab safety notebook for your lab.
- Lab signage
- MSDS record keeping
- Records of safety training
Laboratory Safety Assessments
Safety assessments are a key part of maintaining safe operations in both research and teaching labs. Lab safety assessments will be performed by EHSS on an annual or more frequent basis. After the assessment has been completed, EHSS will email the PI or instructor a list of deficiencies that require followup. Also, both the COEN Safety Liaison and the EHSS Lab Safety Officer are able to provide guidance and assistance in the how deficiencies may be addressed. Please contact them if you require any assistance with the lab safety assessment process.
OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce laboratory worker exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels. Using PPE is typical in many lab operations. However, PPE is viewed as the last line of defense in laboratory safety and should be indicated only after proper engineering and administrative controls have been put in place and proper work practices defined.
Some examples of PPE include safety glasses, lab coats, gloves, earplugs, etc. However, be sure you have the correct form of PPE for the job. While safety glasses are often sufficient for grinding operations, procedures that carry a splash risk mandate goggles. Similarly, depending on the material handled, some processes require nitrile gloves while others mandate latex. Be sure to consult with Boise State EHSS so that you can specify the exact PPE needed and understand the effectiveness and limitations of the PPE.
A good source of PPE can be found at www.grainger.com
Please contact the COEN Safety Liaison if you have any questions or comments relating to safety in the college or content on this website.