Lab Safety Information
Laboratories are designed to maintain the health and well-being of occupants. Potentially hazardous substances used in different laboratories include chemicals, radioactive materials and infectious biological agents. These materials can be manipulated daily as part of experiments, research or production. Safety must remain the primary goal of a laboratory. Regulations, guidelines and standards to ensure laboratory safety have been published by many industry groups, many of which can be found in Appendix A. Complying with those requirements is a primary step in achieving laboratory safety objectives.
More than 500,000 workers are employed in laboratories in the U.S. The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards, as well as musculoskeletal stresses. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous local, state and federal regulations. Over the years, OSHA has promulgated rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for personnel. There are several primary OSHA standards that apply to laboratories as well as other OSHA standards that apply to various aspects of laboratory activities. The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) was created specifically for non-production laboratories.
Additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards as well as biological, physical and safety hazards. For those hazards that are not covered by a specific OSHA standard, OSHA often provides guidance on protecting workers from these hazards. OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on laboratory safety. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers’ Rights, Employer Responsibilities and other services OSHA offers, read OSHA’s Workers page.
In addition to information on OSHA standards and guidance that deal with laboratory hazards, other links are provided with information from other governmental and non-governmental agencies that deal with various aspects of laboratory safety.
Although the OSHA standards referenced on this web page deal specifically with laboratories within the jurisdiction of Federal OSHA, there are twenty-eight OSHA-approved state plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standard and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA’s and may have different or more stringent requirements. Contact your local or state OSHA office for further information. Additional information is on available on the OSHA-approved state plans page.