Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program

Chemical Hygiene Program


The Laboratory and Studio Chemical Program is a written program developed and implemented at the University of Northern Iowa to ensure the safety of employees, including students, whose work involves the use of hazardous chemicals or materials in laboratory and studio facilities. The program establishes procedures, practices, and guidelines for employees working with hazardous chemicals or materials and for those who are responsible for the support of the task.  The development and implementation of the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Program is mandated in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29CFR1910.1450 commonly known as the OSHA Laboratory Safety Standard.  The University's Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program also supplements and supports the OSHA Hazard Communication standard 29CFR1910.1200 and the University Hazard Communication Program developed and implemented to ensure each employee’s safety and health from hazardous chemicals or materials in the workplace.

At the University of Northern Iowa, a laboratory is defined as but not limited to any location where research or teaching is conducted using hazardous chemicals, bio-hazardous or biological materials, radioactive materials, and/or radiation producing devices.

A storage room containing the above materials is considered a laboratory, even if none of the materials listed above is routinely used in the area.   Examples include electronics labs, art studios, laser labs, chemical labs, and biological labs.

Areas not typically considered laboratories under the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program, though these personnel working these areas are required to follow all applicable health and safety regulations:

  • Shops, mechanical and custodial area under the control of Facilities Management.
  • Departmental storage rooms, offices, meeting rooms, and other non-teaching and research spaces.
  • Computer use areas which contain multiple workstations and used primarily by students, even if teaching and research is occurring, unless located inside a space that meets the definition of a laboratory. 
  • Private offices, unless it is associated with a space with the definition of a laboratory.

Administrative Responsibilities

The University of Northern Iowa is responsible for assuring the health and safety of its employees and compliance with all related requirements of local, state and federal regulations.  The University encourages employees to promote positive attitudes regarding safety by incorporating safety into their work practices and to cooperate fully with the implementation of all environmental, health and safety programs. 


Employees/Students are responsible for observing all appropriate procedures, practices and guidelines contained in the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program, as well as other general safety practices.  Employees/Students are responsible for ensuring that the lab supervisor is aware when a non-routine task will be performed.  Employees/Students are required to attend designated training sessions and for reporting hazardous or unsafe conditions to the lab supervisor, Department Head, Public Safety, or the Environmental Safety Coordinator, Gordon Krueger.

Laboratory Supervisor/Principle Investigator

The Laboratory Supervisor/Principle Investigator is responsible for the application and implementation of the procedures, practices and guidelines in the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program. The laboratory supervisor/principle investigator will develop written standard operating procedures for the safe use of chemicals or materials, enforce all safety practices and procedures within the work area, identify and schedule employee training, identify and report hazards or unsafe conditions to the Departmental Chemical Hygiene Officer, Department Head or the Environmental Safety Coordinator, Gordon Krueger, and complete all record keeping tasks required in the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program.

Departmental Chemical Hygiene/Safety Officer

This position will be appointed by the Department Head.  This person will act as an intermediary between the Laboratory Supervisors and EH&S  They will assist the Laboratory Supervisors with implementation of the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Program, in disposing of hazardous waste, facilitate chemical cleanouts, assist EH&S by requesting internal assessments, ensure departmental emergency equipment are regularly tested.  This person will also review laboratory research and experiments to ensure they meet current laboratory safety requirements.  The appointee will also ensure chemical purchases are done in accordance with the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program, keep a current inventory of departmental chemicals and associated Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  They will also provide a current inventory of chemicals and SDS sheets to EH&S.

Department Head

Departments involved with the use of hazardous chemicals or materials in a laboratory facility are responsible for the application and implementation of the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program within the laboratories under their administrative control.  Department Heads will designate a Departmental Chemical Hygiene/Safety Officer to assist laboratory supervisors with the application and implementation of the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Program within their designated laboratories.  

Director of Risk Management

The Director of Risk Management has the responsibility for development and implementation of the environmental, health and safety programs at the University of Northern Iowa. 

Environmental Safety Coordinator

This person oversees the development, application, and implementation of the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program.

Office of  Research and Sponsored Programs

A unit of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, provides administrative services and leadership for the University of Northern Iowa's research services and research compliance programs.  The research compliance program is to assist the Provost in maintaining a research environment at UNI that fosters honesty, integrity, and a sense of community.


Ordering Chemicals

  • Plan the procedures and provide an accurate estimate of the amount of chemical(s) required for the procedure and in quantities that will be used for a period not to exceed 1 year.
  • Select chemicals for which the quality of ventilation is adequate.
  • A laboratory supervisor or a designated individual will authorize ordering chemicals when new procedures are to be conducted or it is likely a new chemical will exceed the permissible exposure limits (PEL) established by OSHA or when other specific acute or chronic hazardous conditions exist. Contact the manufacturer before ordering new or unusual chemicals for which adequate hazard information is not available.    
  • Order chemicals in small containers to avoid repackaging.
  • Chemicals should be in tightly closed, sturdy, and appropriate containers.
  • Chemicals should be marked as to the date each was received and opened.
  • Obtain appropriate Safety Data Sheets (SDS) with the initial shipment.  Retain copy(s) for departmental records and forward original(s) to the Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety Office, mail code 0197.  Electronic copies will also be acceptable.
  • Review and determine the adequacy of storage provisions before the arrival of the chemical(s), including posting appropriate signs and the availability of personal protective equipment.
  • Ensure the chemical is placed on the University Chemical Database.
  • Donated chemicals should be accepted only after approval is obtained from the Departmental Chemical Hygiene Officer/Safety Officer. The chemical should be checked to ensure it is in excellent condition, appropriately labeled and SDS availability.  Also assure there is an immediate need for the donated material.

Receipt and Distribution of Chemicals

  • Do not accept chemicals that are not properly labeled by the manufacturer, importer, or distributor according to GHS (Global Harmonization System) requirements. Art material must also be labeled according to LLAMA (Labeling of Art Materials Act) which states art material must be labeled according to ASTM D-4236 standards.
  • All containers must be labeled as to contents of the container, signal word and hazard statement.  This information can be found on the SDS sheet.
  • Determine and observe all safe handling and storage procedures.
  • Whenever possible, transport chemicals on freight-only elevators to avoid exposure of passengers.
  • High-pressure gas cylinders will be transported according to departmental procedures with the use of an appropriate hand truck. Protective valve covers will be secured during transport and cylinders will be secured with an appropriate securing device at all times.
  • The Department Head is responsible for approving any transfer of chemicals and chemical samples to other departments, institutions or companies.  Examples include contractual requirements, grants and collaborations.  Copies of shipment manifests and/or chemical transfers must be maintained in each departmental office.    

Storage of Chemicals

Proper storage of chemicals is a complex task due to the diverse physical properties of  numerous chemicals which may be present in the laboratory.  Chemicals must be segregated according to any manufacturer’s requirements as provided by the SDS or specified by the manufacturer’s label on the container.  Strict adherence to the following rules is a must when storing chemicals.

  • All containers are to be properly labeled, in good condition, appropriate type and size for the material stored and must be tightly sealed.
  • Incompatible chemicals will be stored separately by the hazard class such as but not limited to flammable liquids, organic acids, and oxidizers.
  • Secure storage shelves and cabinets to prevent tipping and maintain appropriate aisles clear of obstructions.
  • Storage spaces require properly maintained ventilation and adequate temperature control of the space environment.
  • Do not store liquids above eye level.
  • Flammable liquids exceeding four liters will be contained in an appropriate safety can and stored in vented flammable liquid storage cabinets where possible.
  • Use only flammable proof refrigerators for storage of flammable liquids.
  • Dispose of all peroxide forming material within 1 year of purchase or 6 months of opening.
  • Food or food products purchased for human consumption will not be stored within the laboratory work area, refrigerated storage units, or storage area.
  • The storage of highly reactive or corrosive liquids will require the installation of an appropriate containment system such as spill trays.
  • High-pressure gas cylinders will be stored in well-ventilated areas secured by a cylinder clamp, chain or strap or base support.  Cylinders must be secured away from heat sources.
  • Chemicals should be stored in secured areas preventing theft and should be locked when unattended.

Use of Chemicals

  • Review container labels and SDS information for identification of the hazards associated with the material to be used.
  • Review all laboratory standard operating procedures and laboratory protocols prior to chemical use.
  • Review emergency procedures and ensure the required supplies and equipment for material release or spill are immediately available.
  • Maintain knowledge of the locations of safety equipment including emergency showers, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, fire blankets and first aid stations.
  • Avoid working alone in laboratory facilities with hazardous chemicals.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in areas where lab chemicals are used or stored.
  • Do not store food items or cosmetics in areas where lab chemicals are used or stored.
  • Confine long hair and loose clothing when working with lab chemicals.
  • Wear appropriate shoes.  Sandals or similar open toe shoes are prohibited.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective apparel including eye protection, lab coat, and gloves.
  • The use of respirators requires authorization of the Lab Supervisor, Department Head, and inclusion into the University and Departmental Respiratory Protection Program.
  • Immediately remove and properly dispose of significantly contaminated lab apparel.
  • Properly dispose of damaged glassware into designated containers.
  • Do not use mouth suction for pipetting or to start a siphon.
  • Do not smell or taste chemicals.
  • Practice good housekeeping within the lab work area by maintaining properly labeled and stored containers.
  • Keep work areas clean and uncluttered.
  • Wash hands and other exposed skin after working with hazardous chemicals.
  • Do not leave potentially hazardous chemical processes unsupervised or unattended. 
  • Conduct processes which may result in the release of toxic vapors, fumes, or dust within a fume hood or other adequate containment, or ventilation device.

Use of Nanomaterials

Although the health and safety concerns have not yet fully been investigated, it is recommended the following precautions be observed when handling nanomaterials:

  • Any work involving nanomaterials must be included in the Laboratory’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).
  • Observe standard laboratory safety procedures. Wear gloves (double nitrile is recommended), goggles, lab coats, appropriate clothing and shoes as specified under the Laboratory Safety Rules. To avoid wrist or forearm exposure, place the glove over the forearm sleeve.  Lab coats that become visibly soiled with nanomaterial should not be worn.
  • Work that may cause the nanomaterial (either in solid or liquid form) to become airborne such as mixing, sonicating, weighing or agitating should always be done in a glovebox, biosafety cabinet or fume hood.  Fumes or vapors which may contain nanomaterials must be exhausted to a dedicated exhaust line or into a chemical fume hood.
  • Nanomaterials must be maintained in sealed containers when the material is not in use or while being transported.
  • Nanoparticles should always be handled as toxic substances and treated as hazardous waste.  See Hazardous Waste Management Manual for proper disposal.
  • Never use solvents to clean up nanoparticles.  Only use amended water (water in which a surfactant has been added to increase absorption of contaminants) or cleaner compatible with the nanomaterial.
  • Concerns over processes involving the use and manufacture of nanomaterials which may produce fire and/or explosion or using nanomaterials which have a high degree of reactivity should be addressed.
  • Compressed gas cylinders containing gases which have a NFPA health rating of 3 or 4 or labeled with a GHS flammable pictogram, often used in the production of nanomaterials, must be used in a ventilated cabinet.
  • Cleaning surfaces, equipment, or spills outside a fume hood will require the use of a half-face respirator (See Respiratory Protection for requirements) with P100 filters and appropriate gloves.  If cleaning has the potential to contaminate personal lab coats or clothing with a large amount of nanomaterial, disposable coveralls and booties must be worn.
  • Any vacuuming of nanomaterials, including spills, must be done with a HEPA or high efficiency particulate air filtered vacuum.  Because of potential airborne nanoparticle generation during vacuuming, personnel must also use half-face respirators with P100 filters.

Use of Flammables/Combustibles

Materials that can generate sufficient vapors to ignite at temperatures below 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) are considered to be "flammable."  Materials that require temperatures above 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) for ignition are considered to be "combustibles."  Undetectable vapor trails from combustible sources can get into remote ignition sources, causing flashback fires.  A fire may also erupt between reactions of flammables, combustibles and oxidizers. The following precautions are to be observed when handling flammable or combustible materials.

  • Open flames, smoking materials, hot surfaces, operation of electrical equipment, spark ignitors, or other similar ignition sources should be eliminated from areas in which flammable or combustible materials are used or stored.
  • Minimal quantities of flammable/combustible material will be stored and used in lab areas.
  • Liquid flammable material in excess of four liters will be stored in an approved safety can and stored in storage cabinets within designated chemical storage areas which are designed and labeled for the purpose of storing flammable materials.
  • Flammable liquids stored in glass containers shall not exceed four liters unless the chemical purity must be protected and the storage is authorized by the Laboratory  Supervisor.
  • Refrigerators and freezers used for storage of flammable or combustible materials must be flammable proof units designed and labeled for this purpose.
  • When transferring or dispensing flammable liquids from large drums ensure drums are properly grounded and bonded. Ensure areas used for storage of flammable and combustible materials are provided with adequate fire detection/fire suppression systems.

Use of Corrosives

Corrosive materials produce destruction of living tissues at the site of wherever the skin may come in contact with the material. Corrosive materials may come in the form of a solid, liquid or a gas.  When handling materials considered chemically reactive at the point of contact and capable of causing damage to human tissue, the following procedures should be observed.

  • Depending on the work performed, face shields, gloves, rubber aprons, eye protection or boots may be required.
  • Always add acid to water (never water to acid) to prevent or avoid violent reactions or splattering of the substance.
  • In the event of eye or skin contact with corrosives, immediately flush the area of contact with water for a period of 15 to 20 minutes, remove contaminated clothing, and seek medical assistance. Report all accidents to the Lab Supervisor.  Eyewashes and showers should be located within 10 seconds travel time from work area.
  • Neutralizing agents appropriate and adequate amount for spill cleanup.
  • Oxidizing acids (nitric, perchloric and chromic) should be segregated from all other materials.  
  • Organic and inorganic acids should be stored separately.
  • Acids and bases should be stored separately.
  • Calcium gluconate gel must be readily available wherever hydrofluoric acid is used. Medical treatment must be sought immediately when exposed to hydrofluoric acid.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG 300) must be readily available if phenol is being used.  PEG 300 is used in case of exposure to phenol.  If exposed to phenol, immediate medical treatment is required.
  • Use of perchloric acid may result in formation of explosive perchloric acid salts.  Perchloric acid must only be used in approved perchloric acid hoods.

Use of Reactives

Chemicals which react rapidly with themselves or other materials often produce a violent release of energy similar to a detonation.  Extreme care and caution must be exercised when working with the following materials

  • Pyrophorics ignite spontaneously with air.
    • Examples include metal alkalis, phosphorous, fine powders of metal such as magnesium, aluminum, and zinc.
    • Use or store in a safe, inert environment.
    • Avoid using near solvents that are flammable
    • Residues should be deactivated according to the laboratory’s standard operating procedure prior to disposing of the empty container.
  • Oxidizers react violently with organic material. 
    • Examples include perchloric, chromic, and fuming nitric acids, sodium and ammonium nitrates and hydrogen peroxides.
    • Use minimum amounts and store away from organic material, flammables and reducers.
    • Store in secondary containment away from other chemicals.
    • Oxidizers used in organic reactions should be completely spent/deactivated prior to placing in sealed containers.
    • Deactivate residues according to the standard operating procedure of the laboratory prior to discarding the empty container.
  • Organic peroxides may react with organic material resulting in fires or explosions.  They are highly flammable and extremely sensitive to heat, friction, impact, light, and strong oxidizing and reducing agents.
    • Examples include  benzoyl peroxide, butyl peroxide, and lauroyl peroxide
    • Date all peroxidizables when received and when opened for use, disposal of material within six months of  opening or twelve months of purchase. If it is desired to keep the container longer than this, a peroxide test must be performed. Never open a container a container with obvious crystal formations around the lid.
    • Never use near chemicals and materials such as paper and wood.
    • Observe all manufacturer’s use and storage instructions.  Refrigeration and/or hydration may be required.
    • Do not attempt to concentrate organic peroxides (e.g., distillation, extraction or crystallization.)
  • Peroxide Forming Material react with oxygen to form peroxides. Impact, heat or friction can cause peroxide explosions.
    • Examples include ethyl ether, tetrahydrofuran, isopropyl ether and potassium metal.
    • Container should be labeled as to date received, open and when last tested for peroxides.
    • Dispose of chemical on or prior to expiration date on the container.  To retain the chemical beyond this date the container must be tested for peroxide forming chemicals.
    • Containers that are deformed or have crystal formation on them should never be handled.  Contact EH&S for proper disposal.
  • Water reactives combine with water to spontaneously ignite or produce flammable or toxic gases.
    • Examples include alkali metals such as lithium, sodium, potassium, acid anhydrides and acid chlorides.
    • Avoid contact and handle away from water.
    • Use dry sand to smother fire.
    • Provide ventilation to disperse flammable gases.
    • Residues should be deactivated according to the laboratory’s standard operating procedure prior to discarding the containers.

Use of Carcinogens/Toxins

Biohazardous Materials

Biohazardous materials are those materials that may cause harm to humans, domestic or wild animals or plants. The University Biosafety Manual discusses rules and guidelines for the safe use, containment and safe disposal of biohazardous material.

Laser Safety

Class IIIB lasers are visible, ultraviolet, and infrared lasers that produce eye injuries instantly form both direct and specular reflected beams. Class IV lasers present all of the hazards of Class III lasers and may also produce eye or skin damage from diffuse scattered light. Training and safety requirements for personnel who will be using lasers can be found in the Laser Safety Program.

Radiation Safety

As the use of radiation emitting materials and devices has grown, so has our understanding of the potential hazards associated with their use. Concerns over the potential hazards and associated risks have led to recommendations governing the exposure limits and ultimately to strict regulatory controls governing the possession and use of all sources of ionizing radiation. The University Radiation Safety Manual contains information and procedures that must be understood and followed in order to ensure all uses of ionizing radiation at the University of Northern Iowa meet regulatory compliance and resultant radiation exposures are maintained “As Low as Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)”.

Disposal of Hazardous Waste Material

Many materials that are generated in the laboratory are often considered hazardous waste and must be handled and disposed of accordingly. The University of Northern Iowa Environmental Health and Safety Office has generated a Hazardous Waste Management Manual that not only describes this material but also how to properly dispose of a number of different types of hazardous materials.

Physical Hazards

Among the most common injuries in the laboratory are burns, cuts, slips and trips, electrical shock, noise, mechanical, etc. Minimums safe practices should include the following:

  • Use extreme caution around hot plates, heating mantles, burners, ovens, furnaces, etc.
  • Ensure aisles and exits are not blocked.
  • Use extension cords for temporary purposes and ensure electrical cords are not damaged or altered in any way.
  • Ensure ladders and step stools are functioning and used properly.
  • Heavy objects should be stored below five feet to minimize lifting/falling hazards.
  • Laboratories and storage areas should be properly illuminated.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

To determine needs and specific issues that may arise contact Student Accessibility Services. 

Use of Select Carcinogens, Reproductive Toxins and Highly Toxic Chemicals

  • Establish a designated area for use and identify the area with signs or posting for limited access.
  • Properly use, maintain, and dispose of all containment devices and personal protective equipment as recommended on Safety Data Sheets.
  • Develop written procedures for the safe removal of contaminated waste material.
  • Develop written decontamination procedures for use in designated areas for response to an emergency or routine decontamination event.
  • Personnel working with these chemicals must obtain prior approval of the lab supervisor and department head.  All work must be performed in designated areas with minimal quantities of material by properly trained and informed personnel.
  • Hazardous chemicals must be properly stored and secured for limited access.
  • Exemptions:
    • Chemical quantities less than 10 milligrams are exempt from the special procedures. 
    • Any quantity of hazardous chemicals should always be used with reasonable precautions and incorporate safe operating procedures that include elimination of the potential for ingestion, inhalation or skin contact.


The potential damages sustained or personal injuries incurred from an accident within a university laboratory facility will directly relate to the quality of the laboratory's emergency response plan and procedure.  The following components of emergency planning will be required for laboratory facilities.

Preplanning Tasks

  • Identify the nature of the operations performed within the work area such as research, instructional, equipment used, anticipated personnel injury.
  • Potential location of a spill or release such as but not limited to floor, corridor, storage area, and hood.
  • The quantities of potential material release or spill and the type of container such as bottles, pipes, gas cylinders.
  • The chemical or physical properties of the material release such as solid, liquid, gas and air or water reactivity.
  • The hazardous properties of the material such as flammability, corrosive, or toxic.
  • The location of emergency supplies and equipment.
  • Identification of the facility emergency evacuation routes and procedures as well list of emergency phone numbers.


Each laboratory will maintain an appropriate inventory of equipment and supplies for management/control of spill and accidents involving the release of hazardous chemicals. The equipment should include safety shower and eyewash station, fire extinguisher, fire blanket and an appropriate well-stocked first aid station.  Additional supplies required but not limited to neutralizing agents (such as sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium bisulfate) and absorbents (such as vermiculite, spill socks and pillows, calcium bentonite and sand).


Requesting Emergency Assistance

When requesting emergency assistance: If reporting fire, medical emergency or criminal act, call UNI Public Safety at (27)3-4000 or dial 9-911 for Cedar Falls Fire, Police or Emergency Medical.

Information needed when requesting assistance includes:

  • Location of emergency.
  • Phone number from which call is being made.
  • Caller's name.
  • What assistance is required
  • How many injured.
  • Condition of victims.
  • What happened (are there chemicals involved?)



Major Accidents and Injuries

  • If a serious injury or illness occurs, call 911.  Refer to Emergency Chemical Incidents at the University of Northern Iowa for injuries resulting from contact with chemicals.
  • Give your name then briefly describe the location and the nature/severity of the emergency. 
  • Ascertain the safety of the situation.  Never enter an unsafe area where you may also become a victim.
  • Warn others nearby of potential risk to their safety.
  • While you wait for emergency response units to arrive, render first aid promptly:
    • Keep victim still and comfortable. DO NOT MOVE VICTIM unless they are in danger of further harm.
    • Ask victim, "Are you okay?" and "What is wrong?"
    • Check breathing and condition of victim.
    • Assist in controlling serious bleeding. Always wear disposable gloves when assisting victim. NEVER PUT YOURSELF IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH BLOOD OR BODY FLUIDS.
    • Look for emergency medical I.D.
    • If clothing is on fire douse person with sufficient running water under a nearby safety shower if one is available, otherwise roll the person on the floor to smother the flames.
    • If harmful chemicals are spilled on a person, remove them by flooding the affected part with large volumes of water for at least 15-20 minutes.  Any contaminated clothing must be removed.
    • Where chemicals have been splashed into the eye, the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelid must be immediately flushed with tepid water for a minimum of 15 minutes. Eyelids should be held away from the eyeball while rotating the eye in all directions to ensure any contaminants are rinsed away behind the eyelid. 
    • If possible where chemical contamination has occurred, determine the identity of the chemical and inform emergency medical personnel attending the injured party.  Obtain the necessary SDS sheets and send them with the emergency medical personnel.

Minor Accidents and Injuries

  • Within each department, an individual should be identified and designated as the person responsible for reporting injuries and related details to Human Resources.
  • All injuries should be reported within 24 hours.
  • Become familiar with the location of first aid kits. Report use of first aid supplies to the department where the kit is located.
  • The injured staff member should report immediately to the designated person in the department and follow the department's procedures for seeking treatment.  NOTE: NEVER TRY TO DRIVE YOURSELF TO A HOSPITAL IF THE INJURY IS SERIOUS IN NATURE.  Call 911 for an ambulance if the injury is believed to be serious in nature.
  • Departments are encouraged to utilize Occupational Health at MercyOne - Bluebell Road for paid employees. This includes all paid student employees, researchers, and graduate students when injured during the performance of their job duties. Authorization for treatment must be authorized by the employee's supervisor before treatment can begin. Occupationa health at Bluebell Road can be reached at (319) 575-5600.  If a student is injured as part of a non-paid activity, they should be referred to the student health clinic.  The phone number for the student health clinic is (319) (27)3-2009. It is important to call the health provider ahead of time. The name of the injured party and the nature of the injury should be provided.  If the injury occurs after 5:00 PM, it will be necessary to transport the injured person to the Sartori Emergency Room.


Laboratory Personnel should review the Protocol for Spills prior to working in the laboratory.

Minor Chemical Spill

  • Notify all individuals in the area regarding the spill or release of material.
  • Evacuate all non-essential personnel from the spill area.
  • If the material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources.
  • Avoid breathing vapors and if properly trained use a respirator.
  • Establish exhaust ventilation if safe to do so.
  • Secure supplies and equipment to effect the cleanup.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent contamination or additional exposure.
  • Notify the Department of Public Safety if additional information or assistance is required at (319) (27)3-2712.

Major Chemical Spill

Volumes exceeding the capacity of a standard cleanup kit or in which readily available personal protective equipment is not adequate to ensure worker safety.

  • Report spillage of chemical/s immediately to UNI Public Safety at (319) (27)3-2712. 
  • Anyone who may be contaminated by the spill should avoid contact with others.
  • Find the closest emergency shower/eyewash and flood chemical burn with water.
  • Remove any contaminated clothing to limit exposure.
  • When reporting, be specific about the nature and location of spilled material. UNI Public Safety will activate the appropriate emergency response units.
  • Persons not trained in spill techniques should immediately evacuate the area and alert others to do the same.
  • Notify emergency personnel of persons with disabilities who are in the building and need help to evacuate.
  • In case of fire, follow the Departmental Fire Safety Response Procedures 
  • Once outside, move to a clear area at least 150 yards away from the affected building.
  • Keep streets and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  • DO NOT RETURN TO AN EVACUATED BUILDING unless directed by UNI Police.


Fire Discovery

  • Use fire extinguishers only if you have been trained and can do so safely and quickly.
    • Used only for fires no larger than the size of a trash can.
    • Never put the fire between you and the exit.
    • Main use of extinguisher is to aid in escape.
    • After extinguishing, call UNI Public Safety (319) (27)3-2712.
  • Fire cannot be extinguished.
    • Confine fire by closing the doors.
    • Pull the nearest fire alarm.
    • Follow general evacuation procedures.
  • General Evacuation Procedures
    • Close hood shutters if working in the laboratory.
    • Close doors to your immediate area after everyone has evacuated.
    • Evacuate the building using the most direct route and nearest exit.  DO NOT USE ELEVATORS.
    • Once outside, move to a clear area at least 50 feet away from the building.
    • If you have critical information about fire or persons remaining in building notify a UNI Public Safety Officer at the scene.
    • Keep walkways clear for emergency response personnel/vehicles. 
    • DO NOT ENTER an evacuated building until directed by UNI Police.
  • Evacuation from Immediate Fire Area
    • Feel door from top to bottom. If it is hot, DO NOT PROCEED, go back.
    • If door is cool, crouch low and open door slowly.
    • Close door quickly if smoke is present.
    • If no smoke is present, exit building via nearest exit.
    • If you encounter heavy smoke in primary exit route, go back and try secondary exit.
  • Trapped in Building
    • Close door and seal opening to prevent smoke from entering room.
    • Dial (319) (27)3-2712 or 9-911 if possible to inform UNI Public Safety of your  location
    • If a window is available, attempt to attract the attention of emergency responders.
    • DO NOT OPEN THE WINDOW unless directed by emergency responders.


Major or minor leaks occasionally occur on a compressed gas cylinder and can include one of the component parts at the top of the cylinder. If a leak cannot be stopped by tightening a valve gland or packing the supplier will be notified and the following emergency action initiated:

Minor Leak

  • Flammable, inert, or oxidizing gas cylinders will be moved to an isolated, well ventilated, area away from combustible materials. Post signs describing the hazard.
  • Corrosive and toxic gas cylinders will be moved to an isolated, well ventilated, area  (e.g. fume hood if possible) and the fumes directed to the appropriate chemical   neutralizer. 
  • When moving a leaking cylinder through an occupied area of the facility confine the leaking gas in an appropriate manner.

Major Leak

  • Report the incident to 9-911, or to the Department of Public Safety, (319) (27)3-2712 or 9-911 if possible to inform UNI Public Safety of your  location, and activate the building alarm.
  • Don all personal protective apparel and equipment.
  • Evacuate personnel from the area.
  • Observe procedures for personal injury accidents or fire as appropriate.


Engineering controls are physical measures that can reduce or eliminate the hazards associated with the use of hazardous chemicals to whatever extent possible through the substitution of less hazardous equipment, chemical, or processes, isolation of the operator or process, establishing local and general exhaust or ventilation.

Laboratory Fume Hoods

Laboratory fume hoods are intended to keep chemical vapors from escaping into the laboratory. The hood serves as the primary means for respiratory protection of laboratory personnel with physical isolation and containment of chemicals.  A fume hood will be utilized for chemical procedures that have the potential for the following:

  • Airborne concentrations of one or more chemicals approaching the corresponding. Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL).
  • Flammable vapors approaching one tenth of the lower explosion limit.
  • Materials of unknown toxicity.
  • Odors which are potentially annoying to other personnel.

Procedures Considered to be Acceptable to Conduct Outside of the Fume Hood System

  • Water-based solutions of inorganic salts, dilute acids, bases, or other reagents.
  • Very low volatility liquids or solids.
  • Closed systems that will prevent a significant escape to the laboratory environment.
  • Extremely small quantities of material that might otherwise be considered hazardous. 

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls are procedural measures that can be taken to reduce or eliminate hazards associated with the use of hazardous chemicals.

  • Assign a Departmental Chemical Hygiene/Safety Officer in each department.
  • Ensure personnel in charge of laboratories understand their responsibilities under the Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Plan.
  • Observe all standard operating practices and procedures for chemical safety, good hygiene, and good housekeeping.
  • Ensure employees are provided with adequate training to work safely with hazardous chemicals/materials.
  • Prior approval, authorization of the department head or designated representative is required for particular hazardous operations, procedures, or activities.
  • Restrict access to areas where hazardous chemicals or material is used or stored.
  • Designate and post signs or placards to identify hazardous areas.
  • Label hazardous material according to university container labeling procedures.
  • Hazardous waste must be managed using university approved procedures according to the University Hazardous Waste Management Manual.
  • Post the entrance to laboratory areas where chemicals are used or stored in the following manner:  Emergency information including name and phone number responsible party to contact in the event of fire, accident, or spill.
  • Identify specific types of hazards such as flammable, radiological, biological with standard signs.
  • Safety showers, eye wash, fire extinguishers, eye protection, and safety and first aid stations will be properly maintained, identified, and accessible.
  • Chemical containers will be labeled according the standards identified in the University Hazard Communication Program.
  • Radioactive materials must be managed using University approved procedures according to the University Radiation Safety Manual.
Control Measures

Personal protective equipment is personal apparel which is typically provided and maintained by the employer, compatible with the required degree of protection from chemicals or hazards.  Apparel includes, but not limited to head protection; safety glasses, goggles; aprons, gloves, lab coats; respirators; hearing protection; welding helmets; shoe protection.  The Department Head or designee is responsible for the coordination and oversight for the use of personal protective equipment in laboratory facilities.

Respiratory Protection

When engineering controls cannot effectively control hazardous chemical contaminants within the work area, personnel will be required to wear respirator protective equipment. Personnel designated to use respiratory equipment must have proper medical exams, must be properly fit and trained for the proper use of a respirator as provided for in the written Departmental Respiratory Program and the regulations identified in 29CFR1910.134.

Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection is required where there is reasonable probability for eye or face injury.  Eye and face protective equipment will meet or exceed the standards set forth by ANZI Z87.1 and by OSHA regulations. Shields are to protect the face from possible splash but will not prevent a splash from the side.  Eye protection must be worn in conjunction with safety shields.

Hand and Body Protection

Specific precautions must be taken to prevent significant exposure to hazardous chemicals through contact with the skin. Appropriate protection should be selected to meet the needs of the specific hazardous environment.

  • Lab coats will be worn by personnel in any area where chemicals are routinely used or stored.  Apparel will be laundered frequently and removed immediately if contaminated with hazardous chemicals/materials.
  • Gloves will be required when there is, but not limited to, the potential for contact with corrosive or toxic materials.  Gloves will be selected to meet the needs of the hazards.  Gloves will be properly maintained and inspected for wear and effectiveness of protection.
  • Required protective apparel and equipment will be selected to meet the needs of the hazardous chemical operation or hazards in the work area and provided by the university at the discretion of the department head or designated representative.
  • Bare feet, sandals, and other open toed shoes are not permitted in chemical laboratories or other hazardous areas.  The requirement and need for safety shoes in chemical laboratories can be made after careful review of the hazards by the Lab Supervisor with the authorization of the Department Head.

Safety Shields/Containment

  • Fume hoods with drawn sashes, glove boxes, face shields, or other protective devices will be utilized whenever procedures with a high potential for sudden release or splattering is involved.  Chemicals which react explosively require special safety shields and/or containment.  Fume hoods or other similar devices will be properly maintained and inspected on a regular schedule.
  • Drench type safety showers shall be easily accessible, available within 100 feet or 10 seconds travel time of each area where corrosive or flammable liquids are used or stored, properly maintained and inspected for adequate operation.
  • Eye wash fountains will be accessible in all areas where corrosives, hot liquids, or other irritating hazardous chemicals/materials are used or stored.  Eye wash fountains will be properly maintained and inspected on a regular schedule for adequate operation.
  • Fire extinguishers will be accessible, match the fire hazards in the area, tested and inspected according to applicable regulations, and contain either carbon dioxide or dry chemical extinguishing agent.
  • First aid stations will be provided and maintained with the appropriate supplies for the hazards in the work area.  Employees will receive specific information and training for the proper use of all first aid material provided in the first aid station.
  • Fire blankets, when provided in hazardous work areas, will not contain asbestos material and will be properly inspected on an annual schedule to ensure their presence and generally acceptable condition as a fire suppression device.
  • Flammables requiring refrigeration will not be stored in domestic refrigerators.  The light switch and thermostat could ignite the flammable vapors causing an explosion.  Flammables will be stored in either explosion proof or flammable material storage refrigerator.

Laboratory Maintenance/Assessment

General laboratory chemical safety will be maintained with an effective assessment program developed and completed by the departmental Chemical Hygiene Officer in conjunction with the individual Lab Supervisor.  The documentation and record keeping task associated with an inspection and testing program must be maintained by each Lab Supervisor.  Documentation and records must be readily available in the event of an unannounced OSHA inspection.  Assessments will consist of a formal review of chemical and general safe practices of the lab, housekeeping, and include maintenance checks of safety related equipment.  Requirements of the inspections include:

  • Chemical, general safety practices and housekeeping should be completed quarterly.  (See Appendix A for Inspection checklist.)

Appendix A

  • Eye wash fountains are to be activated weekly.  Assessments of emergency showers will be conducted on an annual basis by a representative of the Environmental Health and Safety Office.  Respiratory maintenance will be completed according to procedures and schedule in the Departmental Respirator Program.
  • Fume hood assessments will be completed annually by a representative of the Environmental Health and Safety Office. 


Departments and ultimately individual Laboratory Supervisors are responsible for ensuring appropriate information and training has been provided to employees who work in laboratories with hazardous chemicals.

Administrative Requirements

  • Training must be provided to employees initially assigned to work in a lab where hazardous chemicals are present.
  • Training must be provided to employees prior to the introduction of new hazardous chemicals or work procedures according to the University Hazard Communication Program.
  • Employees receiving training must sign an appropriate log documenting their attendance of the training event. See Appendix B for sample training document.

Appendix B

  • Each Lab Supervisor will maintain an outline of the training provided and the attendance log (See Appendix B) for attendance for a training record sample). These records must be readily available in the event of an unannounced OSHA inspection.
  • Training on the University laboratory management plan must be performed annually. 

Required Training Content

  • Overview of the Laboratory and Studio Safety Program.
  • Standard Operating Procedures of the Laboratory (SOPs) in which they are working.
  • Location and availability of the Departmental Laboratory and Studio Chemical Safety Program and Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (See Appendix C for a sample).

Appendix C

  • Global Harmonization Training.  Required training includes recognition of GHS hazard pictograms, proper labeling procedures and content of Safety Data Sheets.  Training is available on the Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety website.
  • Location and availability of reference material including SDS information, Merck index, or Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories regarding the hazards and safe practices for working in the laboratory
  • Procedures for responding to emergencies (fire, chemical spill, severe weather, etc.) as written in the laboratory’s Emergency Action Plan.  
  • Permissible exposure limits of OSHA regulated substances or recommended limits imposed by the material’s manufacturer or distributor that are not OSHA regulated. 
  • Type and level of hazards to which the employee are exposed.
  • Safe usage and emergency handling procedures for hazardous chemicals in their work/lab area.
  • Methods or procedures to detect the presence or release of hazardous chemicals, biological and radioactive materials. 
  • Signs and symptoms associated with laboratory chemical exposure.
  • Physical and health hazards associated with chemicals in the work area.
  • Measures employees can take to protect themselves from hazards including use of standard operating procedures, control measures, personal protective equipment, and emergency procedures.
  • Proper waste disposal procedures.
  • Proper record keeping including inventories of chemical, biological and radioactive material.
  • Employees receiving training must sign an appropriate log documenting their attendance of the training event.  
  • Each Lab Supervisor will maintain an outline of the training provided and the attendance log.  These records must be readily available in the event of an unannounced OSHA inspection.


Procedures to follow if suspected overexposure of employees to hazardous chemicals:

Suspected Overexposure Results to IDLH

  • Call University Public Safety at (319 (27)3-2712or 9-911 to report the incident. 
  • The victim will be transported via ambulance to Sartori Memorial Hospital located at 515 College Street, Cedar Falls. 
  • The victim should be accompanied by the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) of the respective chemical/material they were exposed to.

Suspected Overexposure Does Not Result in IDLH

  • Exposed person will follow the normal reporting procedure for their respective department.
  • Employee exposure to a hazardous chemical/material must be assessed through monitoring if there is reason to believe that an overexposure has occurred. 
  • If employee is referred to the designated University Occupational Health Provider (Arrowhead Clinic), a copy of the SDS sheet of the chemical/material that they were exposed to will be taken to the appointment.


Laboratory hoods are designed to protect laboratory personnel by capturing or containing chemical and radiological contaminants by preventing their escape into the laboratory environment.  Refer to the University Fume Hood Program for additional information.


Copies of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be maintained for every hazardous chemical within the department and must be placed on the University Chemical and Safety Data Sheet Database.  All students and faculty should review the SDS sheet for chemicals they may come in contact with in the laboratory in which they will be working prior to using them.


Updated by the Lab Safety Committee on April 20, 2020

Reviewed by Risk/EHS July 13, 2023

Contact Name: 

Gordon Krueger

Contact email: