Chemical Safety

Chemical PPE

The Laboratory Chemical Safety program provides guidance to University of Louisville faculty, staff, and students on the safe use of chemical agents in research and clinical activities. The program is based on current government regulations, guidelines, and best practices and is committed to ensuring chemical, personal, and environmental safety.

Principal Investigators have primary responsibility for implementation of University policies and procedures. The Chemical Hygiene Plan is a requirement by OSHA for laboratories using hazardous chemicals. Each faculty/Principal Investigator must complete the Chemical Hygiene Plan and upload it to his or her BioRAFT lab page.

Direct questions regarding the Laboratory Chemical Safety Program to DEHS (502-852-6670). Chemical use in non-laboratory settings is regulated under the OSHA Hazard Communication standard.

Chemical Hygiene Plan

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires laboratories using hazardous chemicals to develop and implement a written Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). This plan must include provisions for protecting employees from the health hazards associated with chemicals in the laboratory and maintaining employee exposure to chemicals below the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL’s).

The OSHA Lab Standard defines the basic elements of a Chemical Hygiene Plan. University-wide procedures address many of these elements. The Chemical Safety section of the Laboratory Safety Manual contains many general safety procedures for chemical laboratories.

However, because of the diverse nature of the teaching, research, and clinical programs at the University of Louisville, general procedures cannot address all potential chemical hazards. Each laboratory unit is required to complete additional elements of the Chemical Hygiene Plan. These lab-specific elements, combined with the Chemical Safety section of the Lab Safety Manual, comprise a comprehensive Chemical Hygiene Plan.

Requirements for Annual Review

The Faculty/Principal Investigator should review the following items at least annually:

  • Chemical Hygiene Plan: review and update if necessary, particularly internal lab responsibilities, operations/procedures requiring prior approval, and SDS.
  • Chemical Inventory: delete items that are no longer available in the lab, add new items to the inventory.
  • Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) for highly hazardous chemicals: assure that existing SOPs are up to date and that an SOP is available for each highly hazardous chemical in use.


Chemical Inventory

The intent of this inventory is to identify all hazardous and radioactive materials in a laboratory. At a minimum, include full chemical name/trade name and the amount for each material on the inventory. Review and update chemical inventories at least annually.

List the following materials on the inventory:

  • Flammable and combustible liquids (flash point < 200F)
  • Flammable solids
  • Compressed gases of any type
  • Air and/or water reactive materials
  • Toxic/poisonous materials
  • Organic peroxides and other oxidizers
  • Pyrophoric materials
  • Unstable chemicals
  • Corrosive acids and bases
  • Carcinogens
  • Controlled Substances
  • Radioactive materials

The Hazard Communication Standard and Laboratory Standard require labs to obtain and maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for every chemical used in the workplace. SDS must be accessible (paper or online) to personnel during all work hours. Refer to the Lab Safety Manual for more information on SDS.

The All Hazards Door Sign displays the classes of chemical hazards present in a laboratory. To request new door signage, complete and submit a Request Form for each sign.


Chemical Storage and Management

Use the following general guidelines when handling any chemical.

  • Know the location of safety shower/eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and spill kits.
  • Conduct procedures involving hazardous volatile chemicals in a functioning chemical hood.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment and remove it before leaving the workspace.
  • Do not launder lab coats at home. Consult with PI for information on lab coat services.
  • Always wash hands when removing gloves and especially before leaving the laboratory.

The Chemical Segregation and Storage Guide provides information on properly storing chemicals based on compatibility/hazard class. Only store cleaning or disinfectant products underneath sinks.

The Lab Safety Manual contains information regarding chemical hazards classes, specific hazardous chemicals, labeling guidelines, storage guidelines, handling guidelines, chemical hood guidelines, and other important information.