2. Standard Operating Procedures for Laboratory Chemicals
2.1 Chemical Procurement
• The decision to procure a chemical shall be a commitment to handle and use the chemical properly from initial receipt to ultimate disposal.
• New chemicals shall be obtained only if the faculty member has determined that the use of the new chemical is necessary and appropriate for the research or teaching procedure. The faculty member will ensure that information on proper handling, storage, and disposal is made known to all involved personnel, including students, prior to their use of the chemical.
• All chemicals will be received through the Laboratory Stores. The Laboratory Stores Manager will ensure that:
– Chemical containers are accepted only when labeled and packaged in accordance with applicable regulations;
– All chemical containers are dated when received;
– A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) has been obtained and properly filed for each new chemical received.
2.2 Chemical Transport
• Received chemicals are to be expeditiously moved to the designated storage area. Large glass containers of a size greater than or equal to 2.5 liters and containing concentrated acids, highly-toxic liquids, or Class 1A flammables are to be either of a safety-coated type, or else be placed inside enclosed carriers or shipping containers during transport.
• Whenever a highly toxic chemical is transported via a corridor, elevator, or other public space, its container must be placed either on a cart or inside a carrier, bucket, or other secondary container.
• Cylinder gases must be transported only while chained to a cylinder cart, and with all protective caps and guards securely in place.
• Any transport of chemicals that involves the use of a motor vehicle shall comply with all applicable Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements as described in 49 CFR Subchapter C, including those related to labeling the package, placarding the vehicle, and manifesting the shipment. For information on these requirements, consult the Laboratory Stores Manager.
2.3 Chemical Storage
• Each storage area shall be well-illuminated, and chemical storage should be maintained at or below eye level (approximately 5.5 feet). An effort should be made to store large bottles of acids and other hazardous substances on a shelf that is no more than three feet above floor level.
• Chemicals, including cylinder gases, shall be segregated by hazard classification and compatibility in a well-identified area, with local exhaust ventilation as necessary.
• Acid-resistant trays should be placed under bottles of mineral acids.
• Acid-reactive materials such as cyanides and sulfides must be separated from acids or otherwise protected from contact with acids.
• Highly toxic chemicals whose containers have been opened should be stored in unbreakable secondary containers to prevent spills and contamination.
• The chemical storage area in the Laboratory Stores will be accessible during normal working hours, and is under the control of the Laboratory Stores Manager. Access to storage areas associated with individual laboratories shall be limited, with the specific access requirements to be determined by the department in charge.
• The faculty or staff member in charge of each lab or chemical storage area shall ensure that chemical containers retain their integrity and that the contents are not deteriorated. It is highly recommended that each container be physically examined at least annually to confirm its condition and determine whether the material should remain in inventory.
2.4 General Precautions for Chemical Handling
• For each chemical in use, all faculty, staff, and students shall make themselves aware of:
– Chemical hazards and appropriate safety procedures as described in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), as may be specified by the supervisor, and through other appropriate references, as may be necessary;
– The appropriate safety eyewear and other personal protective equipment to be used;
– Symptoms of exposure for the chemicals with which they work and with the precautions necessary to prevent exposure;
– Location and proper use of emergency equipment, including fire extinguishers, safety showers, and eyewash stations;
– Proper storage for the chemical when it is no longer in use;
– Appropriate personal work practices;
– Proper waste disposal procedures; and
– Emergency procedures, including spill clean-up methods and evacuation routes.
• Do not block access to emergency showers, eyewashes, or exits.
• Skin contact with chemicals is to be avoided, and all personnel are to wash hands before leaving the laboratory.
• Mouth suction for the purposes of pipetting or starting a siphon is prohibited; use pipette bulbs or other pipetting aids.
• When working with flammable liquids, be certain that there are no sources of ignition nearby that might cause a fire or explosion.
• Storage, handling, and consumption of food or beverages, or the application of cosmetics, is not allowed in laboratories or chemical storage areas, nor in refrigerators, glassware, or utensils used for laboratory operations.
• Any chemical mixture should be assumed to be as toxic as its most toxic component, and substances of unknown toxicity should be assumed to be toxic.
• Any specific precautions based on the toxicological characteristics of individual chemicals shall be implemented as may be deemed necessary by the Chemical Hygiene Officer or the Chemical Safety Committee. These special precautions are listed in Section 5.
2.5 Procedures for Use of Cylinder Gases
• Gas cylinders must be chained or secured at all times while in use, storage, or transport.
• Gas cylinders must be transported only while chained to a cylinder cart, and with all protective caps or rings securely in place.
• When tapping a gas cylinder, use only a pressure regulator which has a CGA fitting designation identical to that of the cylinder in use. Use of adapters is not permitted without prior approval from the Chemical Hygiene Officer or the Laboratory Stores Manager.
• If the regulator or associated valving shows any evidence of improper performance or operation, including the failure to read zero when disconnected from the supply cylinder, the regulator must immediately be tagged as defective and removed from service. Bring the defective regulator to the Laboratory Stores Manager.
• When working with corrosive or toxic gases:
– All other provisions of this Plan regarding toxic chemicals must be met.
– The cylinder, regulator, and associated plumbing must be situated inside a fume hood or other appropriate protective enclosure while in use.
– The regulator must have been cleaned and serviced within the past six months, unless it has not been used since either its date of purchase or the date of its prior cleaning and servicing.
– It is recommended that a cross-purge arrangement be set up using argon or nitrogen to flush the regulator and valving after use of the corrosive or toxic gas, both to prevent damage to the equipment and to avoid spillage of residual gas when the equipment is removed from the hood.
• Middlebury College is subject to various federal, state, and local requirements regarding disposal of chemical wastes. Specific information regarding these requirements is available from the Chemical Hygiene Officer or the Laboratory Stores Manager.
• In general, small quantities (a few mL) of most dilute aqueous solutions may be flushed to the sewer with plenty of water. Exceptions are solutions that contain heavy metals such as barium, cadmium, or mercury; that contain arsenic or selenium; or that contain certain organic constituents. For specifics, speak with the Chemical Hygiene Officer.
• All other chemicals must be accumulated as hazardous wastes. Before beginning to accumulate wastes, users must make themselves aware of the applicable requirements.
• Federal and state regulations define a “satellite accumulation area” as an area close to the point of waste generation where the waste is under the control of the person generating the waste. Such an area may be a portion of a fume hood, or other suitable location in the laboratory. Hazardous waste accumulation in laboratory satellite areas is subject to all of the requirements included in this section. Additionally, Middlebury College limits accumulation of hazardous wastes in each laboratory satellite area to a maximum of 1 quart of acutely-hazardous wastes, as are listed in 40 CFR 261.33(e) or Appendix IV of the Vermont Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, or to 30 gallons of other wastes.
• Each waste container must be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” and tagged with all of the following information:
– a listing of its contents using the full chemical names;
– identification of the process generating the waste; and
– the name of the person labeling the container.
Adhesive labels for this purpose are available from the Laboratory Stores Manager and Chemical Hygiene Officer.
• All wastes within a container must be compatible with the container and with each other.
• All containers being used to accumulate hazardous waste must be kept closed except when adding waste to the container.
• Whenever a satellite waste container of any size is filled, or when the accumulation limits listed above have been reached, or when the operation producing the waste has ceased, or when the person generating the waste will no longer be working in that laboratory, the waste must, within three days, be dated and moved to the designated short-term waste storage area located in room BIH 128, near the Laboratory Stores.
– Obtain and fill out a Hazardous Waste Internal Manifest, listing all wastes and surplus chemicals you are disposing. The first section of this form is for describing wastes generated by laboratory processes. The second section to the form is for listing wastes that are surplus or off-spec laboratory chemicals which are still in their original labeled containers. This form is available from the Laboratory Stores Manager or the CHO.
– Confirm that each waste container has been properly labeled as to its contents.
– Contact the Laboratory Stores Manager or the Chemical Hygiene Officer to make arrangements for pickup or transport of your waste. Do not bring any wastes down to the storage area without making arrangements in advance.
• Evaporating organic solvents as a means of disposal or to reduce disposal volume is explicitly prohibited, both for environmental reasons and for regulatory compliance.
Laboratory workers are directly responsible for the cleanliness of their own workspaces, and jointly responsible for common areas of the laboratory. Supervisors shall ensure the maintenance of appropriate housekeeping standards.
• Access to walkways, exits, fire extinguishers, eyewashes, emergency showers, electrical disconnect panels, first-aid kits, and any other emergency equipment must remain unobstructed at all times. Access paths must not be used for storage of any kind, not even for carts or other portable items.
• All spills on lab benches or floors shall be immediately cleaned and properly disposed of. Small spills should be cleaned up by the user. For large spills, immediately contact the CHO, Laboratory Stores Manager, or the Director of Sciences Support Services.
• Each lab worker shall keep his or her work area clean and uncluttered, with lab benches kept clear of unnecessary equipment and chemicals.
• At the completion of each experiment or operation, the work area shall be thoroughly cleaned, with all equipment properly cleaned and stored, and chemicals returned to their assigned storage areas.
• All chemical containers shall be clean and properly labeled in accordance with Section 2.11, and should be stored with the labels readily visible.
2.8 Laboratory Equipment and Glassware
In addition, the following procedures shall apply to the use of laboratory equipment:
• All laboratory equipment is to be used only for its intended purpose.
• Any broken, cracked, or chipped glassware shall be immediately disposed in a labeled broken glass receptacle.
• All evacuated glass apparatus such as vacuum manifolds should be used in a hood, or otherwise protected or shielded to contain chemicals and glass fragments in the event of an implosion.
• Waste receptacles shall be properly identified. Chemical waste containers shall be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste,” and shall be kept closed except to add waste.
• Laboratory equipment should be inspected periodically, and repaired or replaced as necessary.
• Appropriate eye protection is required for all employees, students, and visitors to the laboratory, and shall be worn at all times when in the laboratory.
– Chemical splash goggles meeting ANSI Z87.1 are required to be worn by all laboratory workers in any laboratory where transfer and handling operations occur that involve use of the following materials:
- Liquids capable of causing injury or disease if sprayed or splashed in the eye; or
- Any highly-toxic chemicals.
– Use of a face shield as supplementary protection in addition to the required goggles should be considered for particularly hazardous operations.
– In those laboratories and shops where there is no possibility of injury due to spray or splash of hazardous liquids, safety glasses with side shields meeting ANSI Z87.1 may be worn instead of splash goggles.
• Appropriate footwear is required in all laboratory areas; going barefoot is expressly prohibited.
• Appropriate gloves shall be worn whenever there is a possibility of skin contact with hazardous materials.
– Ensure that the selected glove material and type of construction is suitable for the substance being handled and the procedure to be used. Glove materials differ widely in resistance to permeation by specific chemicals. The thickness of the glove material should be chosen on the basis of permeability as well as on any abrasion or other physical stress to which the glove will be subjected.
– CAUTION: gloves made of latex are generally suitable for use only with mild aqueous solutions and substances of low toxicity.
– Gloves must be removed before handling or contacting any objects that should not be contaminated, such as doors, telephones, pens, and computer keyboards.
– Reusable gloves shall be rinsed, washed, or otherwise cleaned as necessary to remove hazardous residues before the gloves are taken off, so they will be ready for use the next time.
Used gloves are to be inspected carefully prior to reuse; damaged or deteriorated gloves must be immediately replaced.
• Lab coats may be required to be worn in the laboratory, depending on the intended procedures. Where flames or other heat sources are in use, coats should typically not be made of nylon, polyester, or other material that can melt; cotton is a better choice. Laboratory coats are to be commercially laundered on a periodic basis, and shall be removed immediately upon discovery of significant contamination. Users must not launder lab coats at home, nor in a coin-operated or similar facility. Laundry services are available through the Laboratory Stores.
• Use of a fume hood is recommended for any work with volatile chemicals, and is generally required for all chemical operations involving substances which are appreciably volatile and which are capable of causing harm at low exposure levels. Laboratory fume hoods are discussed under Engineering Controls in Section 4.4.
• Any respirator usage shall comply with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, and Middlebury College’s Respirator Program. This program requires fit testing and medical evaluation before a respirator is worn. Employees may not decide on their own to don respirators without following the full procedure outlined in Middlebury College’s Respirator Program, administered by the Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator. In addition, the CHO shall be notified about any procedures in which respirators will be worn.
2.10 Personal Work Practices
• Inspect personal protective equipment prior to use, and wear appropriate protective equipment as procedures dictate and when necessary to avoid chemical exposure.
• Do not eat, drink, or apply cosmetics in the laboratory (smoking is prohibited anywhere in McCardell Bicentennial Hall).
• Do not smell or taste any chemicals, and avoid unnecessary chemical exposures by any route.
• Wash promptly and thoroughly anytime a chemical has contacted the skin.
• Wash hands well with soap and water before leaving the laboratory.
• Be aware of long hair or loose-fitting clothing, and confine these close to the body when there is the possibility of their getting caught on equipment.
• Encourage safe work practices by setting a proper example. Horseplay is strictly forbidden.
• Do not sit on lab benches, hood airfoils, or other work surfaces where hazardous materials may have been used; sit only on proper chairs or stools.
• All employees are to be vigilant about unsafe practices and conditions in the laboratory, and shall immediately report such problems to their supervisor, the Chemical Hygiene Officer, or the Director of Sciences Support Services. The supervisor must ensure that unsafe practices or conditions are corrected promptly.
• Seek information and advice from knowledgeable persons, as well as applicable standards and codes, about the hazards present in the laboratory. Plan operations, equipment choices, and protective measures accordingly.
• Supervisors must ensure that each laboratory employee or student knows and follows the rules and procedures established in this Plan.
• All chemical and waste containers in the laboratory shall be labeled.
• Chemical containers are to be provided with a durable label that clearly identifies in English the contents and any relevant hazard. Do not label with just the chemical formula! Except for containers holding transferred bulk solvents, the label should also include the date of acquisition and the source (manufacturer or experimental procedure) of the chemical.
• Waste containers also must be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” in addition to a description of the contents, the generating process, and the user. See Section 2.6 above for complete information. Waste containers must remain closed except when adding waste.
• Portable, unmarked containers, including such items as wash bottles, must be labeled by the individual who first uses the container.
• An exemption from labeling requirements is made for transferring a chemical from a labeled container into another container, such as a beaker or Erlenmeyer flask, where the chemical is solely for the immediate use of the worker who performed the transfer.
• Labels should be periodically inspected by the faculty or staff member in charge of the lab to ensure that labels have not been damaged, defaced, or removed.