LABORATORY HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING
The Amherst College Laboratory Health and Safety Program has been prepared for
faculty, staff and students to meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) Laboratory Standard, as well as other regulatory requirements,
including, but not limited to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , the
Massachusetts Building and Fire Prevention Regulations, and the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP). The information contained here-in applies to not only
laboratories, but art studios, photography areas and other areas where hazardous materials
and waste are used and/or stored.
It is the responsibility of the persons utilizing the above referenced laboratory and studio
facilities to follow the policies, procedures and practices of Amherst College to reduce
the risk of incident, illness and injury, protect the environment and property, and know
how to react in cases of emergency. Laboratory Principal Investigators (PI) must ensure
compliance with the College policies and procedures to best protect the facility users, to
reduce the risk of liability, and to effectively communicate and encourage the best
management practices of the institution within their areas of responsibility.
Amherst College has several written programs, policies and procedures available on-line
to assist you with laboratory health and safety. It is your responsibility to identify and
become familiar with those programs that directly affect you and your work. These
policies and procedures are minimum requirements, not just applicable to Amherst
College, but to other colleges, universities and places of future employment. For
additional information, contact the laboratory professor (PI), the Chemical Hygiene
Officer (CHO), or Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).
The information provided in this particular training program is basic, and will incorporate
minimum laboratory health and safety practices for the departments of Biology,
Chemistry, Fine Arts, Geology, and Physics. It is up to the individual laboratory or studio
instructor and/or safety coordinator to familiarize their staff with the hazards and
associated risks of that particular facility, and to, when necessary, contact the Chemical
Hygiene Officer or Environmental Health and Safety for additional information or
The two most encompassing regulatory requirement that pertains to the above referenced
facilities is the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratory,
otherwise known as the Laboratory Standard, promulgated by OSHA to protect the
laboratory users, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) enforced by
the federal EPA, which regulates hazardous waste and air pollutants (HAP) to protect the
The Amherst College Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP), which can be found on the
Environmental Health and Safety Web Page, is the most appropriate document to outline
our requirements in the most concise manner possible. Our CHP is Amherst College
specific, as required by OSHA, and must include the following elements;
information for faculty, staff and students about the hazards of chemicals in the
laboratory or studio
the acquisition, use and maintenance of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
the designation of a Chemical Hygiene Officer
appropriate training for the type of work being performed
emergency response procedures for chemical incidents, fires and injuries
engineering controls, such as fume hood utilization
personal protective equipment
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was enacted by Congress in 1976
to address the concern of chemical waste storage, transportation, disposal and reduction.
This system for controlling hazardous waste from “point of generation” to actual disposal
is referred to as the “cradle to grave” system, and makes Amherst College completely
responsible, both legally and financially, for the disposal of hazardous waste, regardless.
In addition to the chemical waste we generate in the laboratories, the RCRA requirements
apply to any solid waste that are deemed hazardous because of its quantity, concentration,
chemical, infectious or physical characteristics may;
cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase is
serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness, or
may pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the
environment when not properly stored, treated, transported or disposed of, or
These waste streams, other than chemicals from the laboratory may include lead paint,
mercury and other heavy metals from computer monitors and fluorescent light bulbs,
pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s).
If the waste (solid, liquid, semisolid or gaseous) exhibits one of these four characteristics
(corrosive, ignitable, reactive or toxic), including those that have the ability to leach into
the ground or ground water, are to be covered by RCRA regulations. The most significant
provision of RCRA is the prohibitions on the disposal of hazardous waste by burial.
From an enforcement standpoint, both the EPA and OSHA can issue civil and criminal
penalties against a business, college, industry, organization, person(s) or university for
non-compliance. In both cases, a fine of up to $25,000.00 for each day, or $50,000.00
and/or two years of imprisonment are possible, if a person “knowingly” commits certain
violations of RCRA.
Although the ultimate responsibility for the safety of Amherst College rests with the
College President, the laboratory PI carries the direct responsibility for what actually
takes place in a facility under their respective control. Laboratory Safety Coordinators
should assist the PI by conducting informal inspections, managing hazardous materials
and wastes in the facility, maintaining applicable recordkeeping, monitoring appropriate
training and personal protective equipment.
The Chemical Hygiene Officer and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety will
provide technical assistance and training, waste minimization and control activities,
conduct formal inspections and audits, maintain appropriate license and permits with the
local, state and federal regulatory agencies, and assist laboratory management and
personnel with the establishment of safety policies and procedures to ensure a healthy
and safe working environment.
Before working in a laboratory or studio where hazardous materials and waste are used
and/or stored, training must be provided. The training must include, but shall not be
limited to any facility specific programs for that location, including;
Emergency Action Plans for Chemical, Fire and Medical Emergencies
Exposure Control Plan, or Bloodborne Pathogens
Hazard Communications or Right-to-Know (MSDS)
Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories
The Emergency Action and Fire Prevention Plans for the Laboratory and Studio Facilities
require the PI to have a plan of action in cases of emergency. This includes an
accountability system for fires, fire alarms, chemical spills or other issues that may
adversely affect the occupants, or the building.
Prior to the first experiment, a designated area, outside of the building must be identified
by the PI. This location must
be familiar to all occupants under the control of the PI
be at least 50’ away from the building and doors
include a means to identify those who did or did not end up in the designated area
In the event of a fire alarm, every person in the building is required to evacuate. When
exiting the building, everyone should use the closest EXIT door, and proceed to the
designated, pre-identified area.
No person should re-enter the building until both of the following has occurred;
the Fire Alarm has been silenced, and
permission to re-enter the building has been granted by the Amherst Fire Department
and the Amherst College Campus Police.
If you should discover a fire or smoke condition within the laboratory, studio or building,
you should do the following;
1. Close the door to Contain the Fire or Smoke
2. Alert Persons in the immediate area
3. Pull the closest Fire Alarm and Phone the Campus Police at 542-2111
o typically located at the stairs and the Exit Doors from the building
4. Extinguish the fire and/or Evacuate the Building
o Extinguish the fire with a portable fire extinguisher ONLY if you have
been trained to use an extinguisher, and the fire is small enough to handle,
Medical Emergencies for both illness and injury must also be pre-planed for every
facility. Personnel within the laboratory or studio must react appropriately to reduce the
risk to themselves and others. The most important response to every medical emergency,
regardless of illness or injury is to contact the Amherst College Campus Police at 413-
542-2111, which will initiate the correct response, including an ambulance, if necessary.
Even if a person is acting or reacting strangely, and you are not sure of the cause, it is
never inappropriate to dial 542-2111.
Always assess the risk to you personally, first. Never create two injuries or fatalities
when only one existed, before. In other words, do not enter an area that you know may
not be safe, either environmentally (leaks, odors and spills) or physically (dangerous
equipment or personal threat).
If you opt to assist an injured or ill person, after you verify your safety and have
contacted the Amherst College Campus Police, consider the use of the most appropriate
personal protective equipment, including gloves, preferably non-latex and limit your
exposure to any bodily fluid. If possible, try to control any bleeding using clean towels or
paper towels, if available. Keeping the injury as clean as possible will limit the risk of
In the event of a personal injury, involving a chemical spill, consider the use of the
emergency shower, eyewash station or laboratory sink, if applicable. For a chemical spill
to the hands or arms, the use of the laboratory sink may be appropriate. However, if the
chemical, regardless of hazard (corrosive, flammable or poison) has been spilled on to the
clothing of the individual, the laboratory shower or drench hose should be used. Try to
find an emergency wash station in a safe area, such as an adjacent laboratory, to prevent
further exposure and limit the risk. All clothing needs to be removed as quickly as
possible, using gloves, while the water is flowing from the shower. The longer the
chemical stays in contact with the body, including acids, bases, flammable liquids and
poisons, the more permanent the damage or injury will be.
If at all possible, stay with and assist the person under the emergency shower, as they
may unable to deal with the incident, mentally or physically. Often patients exposed to a
chemical incident may end up in shock, unable to think or react for themselves. Send
someone else to call for the ambulance, and stay with the patient, providing emotional
and physical support.
Regardless of whether you or the patient are using the eyewash station, laboratory sink or
emergency shower, the minimum amount of time for irrigation is 15 minutes, or until the
arrival of the ambulance. Do not concern yourself or the patient with the water on the
floor of the laboratory or studio, caused by the shower or eyewash station, Physical Plant
personnel will deal with the run-off. The most important issue is life safety and the well-
being of the patient.
In all of the newer laboratory and studio facilities, the placement of the emergency
equipment, including the eyewash station, emergency showers, telephone, fire
extinguishers, emergency shut-offs and Material Safety Data Sheets have been placed
next to the means of egress or exit door. This location is the campus standard for ease of
identification and will provide persons within the laboratory or studio with the option of
being able to evacuate the facility, without placing themselves at additional risk.
Accountability is a significant issue that must be incorporated into all of our policies and
procedures, including emergency preparedness plans. As indicated above, it is the PI’s
responsibility to identify, in advance, a place outside of the building for facility and
building occupants to meet, in the event of fire or explosion, and to verify that everyone
has successfully been accounted for. For a chemical leak or spill, we still need to
accomplish same, but reduce the risk of spreading contamination. In this particular case,
following our Amherst College Emergency Preparedness Plans, laboratory personnel who
were or may have been exposed to a chemical incident in either the McGuire Life
Sciences or Merrill Science buildings should, if possible, report to Merrill Science, Room
425 for accountability and medical evaluation. This laboratory is free of potential
hazards, is centrally located and is equipped with the emergency equipment that may be
needed by the ambulance and fire department. If relocation from this site is warranted, it
can be performed in a manner that will lessen the risk contamination and maintain
accountability, as required.
Hazard Communication, also known as the Massachusetts Right-to-Know Act is the
federal and state mandate that requires Amherst College to have a written program that
appropriately identifies operations and work areas where hazardous materials, including
cleaning chemicals are present. This OSHA requirement stipulates that the College must
have and maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), appropriate labels, placards and
signage to properly and adequately warn persons who may or will come in contact with a
hazardous material to know as much about the hazard as is possible.
Material Safety Data Sheets are located in laboratories, custodial closets, the main offices
of Biology and Chemistry and the Amherst College Campus Police Station. They are
available to any person twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and are reviewed
annually for applicability and date of printing. Amherst College has implemented a
program to replace any and all MSDS’s that are in excess of 5 years old, or for which the
material has been chemically or physically altered. For individual laboratories, the PI
and/or safety coordinator is responsible for the updates.
Material Safety Data Sheets, must, as a minimum have the following information;
The name of the actual chemical(s) and/or trade name
Chemical, physical and toxicological properties of the substance
Handling, storage and disposal requirements
Emergency and first aid procedures, including manufacturer or distributor
emergency telephone numbers
Labels specifically identify the contents of a container. They are to be affixed by the
manufacturer and/or supplier and have all appropriate precautionary warnings in place to
best protect the user. This would include applicable hazards, such as corrosive,
flammable, oxidizer etc. Labels can also be affixed to a container by faculty, staff and
students at Amherst College, provided the following regulatory requirements are met;
The chemical must be compatible with the container it is being placed in, and has
been cleaned appropriately, prior to the introduction of the material
The chemical or trade name must be legibly placed on the container, taking
environmental conditions into account.
The hazard type must also be placed on the container, beneath the actual name of
the material, such as corrosive, flammable or toxic.
The name of the material or chemical must be spelled out completely, without
abbreviations or chemical symbols.
Labels are also extremely important to all of our first responders, including the Amherst
College Campus Police, the Amherst Ambulance and Fire Department, our Chemical
Hygiene Officer and Environmental Health and Safety. The information provided allows
us the opportunity to appropriately treat patients, leaks and spills, as is required by the
local, state and federal agencies.
Signage and other warnings must comply with nationally recognized standards, including
color contrast and font size. One of the most important signs used on campus is the
Laboratory Door Safety Information Card, with the NFPA 704 diamond. The red, blue,
yellow and white symbol identifies the most significant hazards within the laboratory for
the benefit of our first responders, as is required. The color, numerical and special
hazards sections indicate the following;
Red – Flammability
Blue – Health Hazard
Yellow – Reactivity
White – Special Hazards or Personal Protective Equipment Required
0 – Minimal Hazard
1 – Slight Hazard
2 – Moderate Hazard
3 – Serious Hazard
4 – Extreme Hazard
Specialized Personal Protective Equipment
In order to properly complete the NFPA 704 diamond, laboratory personnel must be
familiar with the most hazardous material in the facility, and utilize either the NFPA 704
Diamond or the Hazardous Material Identification System (HMIS) found on the chemical
container. Both are color coded symbols, utilizing the same numerical values (0-4), or
can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheets.
As an example, if your facility contains Acetylene Gas, the flammability hazard for the
laboratory or room is 4. If the facility also has Hydrofluoric Acid, the Health Hazard for
the area would be a 4, for Potassium Chlorate the Reactivity hazard is 3. For water
reactive chemicals, a W must be placed in the white section, and for Oxidizers an OX.
The Laboratory Safety Information Card must also have the names of the responsible
parties for the facility, including the principal investigators and the laboratory safety
coordinators, with appropriate phone numbers, in cases of emergencies. If the PI is
opposed to having their home or private telephone numbers posted on the card, they must
contact the campus police, and provide the needed information, in case of a laboratory
The card also identifies other facility hazards that must be identified, such as the use of
biological materials, lasers, radioactivity and x-rays.
If other signage is necessary, such as for the placement, use and storage of lasers, the use
of biological safety cabinets, not drinking non-potable water, keeping flammable liquids
out of household type refrigerators etc., contact the office of Environmental Health and
Safety for the appropriate warning signs. The signs must meet certain size and color
requirements in order to be compliant with OSHA rules and regulations. They must be
visible from a certain distance and convey the most appropriate information. Most signs
are currently available, but site specific signs indicating Danger, Warning, Caution or
Notice can be nicely created within a day, at the request of the PI or Laboratory Safety
Housekeeping practices within the laboratory or studio are extremely important. Poor
housekeeping is usually an indication of other improper facility procedures, which is a
red flag for any auditor or inspector. Good to excellent housekeeping habits suggest
regulatory compliance and lessens the risk of a very detailed, all-encompassing
inspection. Work areas should be clean, neat and orderly, safety equipment and means of
egresses should not be blocked or otherwise obstructed, floor areas should be free of trip
and fall hazards, spills (regardless of size) should be properly and completely cleaned up.
Chemicals should be properly stored and facing forward. Fume or exhaust hoods should
not be used for storage, cabinet doors should be kept closed, and combustible material
and storage such as boxes, cardboard and paper should be kept to an absolute minimum,
and laboratory sinks should not be the convenient place to leave unwashed glassware,
until someone else can wash it. Good labeling and signage throughout the facility keeps
laboratories and studios well-organized and neat.
Chemical storage practices and procedures are governed by the regulatory requirements
of the state building and fire prevention codes, as well as the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA). These requirements are written to reduce the risk of
personal injury, and lessen the possibility of fire, explosion or other unwanted chemical
reaction. In an effort to make the materials easier to find, some laboratories have opted to
use the system of alphabetical order. This practice is acceptable, provided the materials
stored together are compatible. When setting up the chemical storage areas, PI’s and/or
the Laboratory Safety Coordinators should require a certain level of expertise, and if
necessary, request the assistance of the Chemical Hygiene Officer or Environmental
Health and Safety. Considerations should include how the existing facility is set up,
operations, number of cabinets, fume hood or other exhaust locations, ignition sources,
other applicable, site specific hazards. Chemicals should be stored in the following
Radioactive Materials and Controlled Substances, including medications and
syringes must be properly and adequately secured in accordance with the
requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) and the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health.
Chemicals should not be placed on top of cabinets or the upper most shelves
o Heavy containers or extremely hazardous materials placed on an upper
shelf could cause a serious hazard and/or significant injury
Do not place any material (boxes, chemicals etc) within 18” of a sprinkler head
Label all chemical containers and wastes appropriately, as indicated above.
o Chemicals, like those that form peroxides are to be tested and re-dated
every 6 months.
Containers should indicate the date received, when expired, or no longer usable
Chemicals should be capped at all times, except when actively filling or
o The use of paraffin wax or aluminum foil is strongly discouraged for
chemical containment, and is prohibited for chemical waste containers
Containers must be appropriate for the type of chemical or material stored within
Place toxic and odiferous materials in ventilated cabinets, if possible, to avoid
Do not place chemicals, except those being actively used in the work area.
Do not expose chemicals to heat or direct sunlight
Separate chemicals by compatibility
Store flammable liquids in approved Flammable Storage Cabinets or
Minimize the storage of flammable liquids and gases in laboratory and studio
facilities, if possible.
Check the MSDS of that particular chemical for additional storage requirements
Exhaust / Fume Hoods are one of the most important pieces of equipment in the
laboratory. They provide the user with protection from toxic and unpleasant materials,
and reduce the risk of personal exposure. The fume hoods have many built in safety
features to protect the user from small scale explosions, fires, over-pressurizations and
chemical exposure. The exhaust systems should be properly used and maintained to best
protect the user(s). Any deficiency, such as damage, reduced exhaust or noise should be
reported to the Physical Plant as soon as possible. A fume or exhaust hood that is not
operating properly should not be used.
Fume hood alarms and warning lights should not be ignored. Using a hood with an
operational deficiency, indicated by a horn or light is not safe, nor appropriate.
For your health and well-being, follow these practices;
Fume hoods must be on at all times to keep laboratory under negative pressure
Fume hood sash should be set not more than 12 – 16 inches above work surface
o Sash glass protects the user from fire, splash and other hazards
Open and close the sash slowly to avoid turbulence and unnecessary chemical
Never attach a chem-wipe or Kleenex to the base of a sash to indicate flow
Place all chemicals and apparatus at least 6” back from the face of the fume hood
to properly exhaust the material
Never use the fume/exhaust hood for the storage of chemicals or chemical waste
Keep the doors to the laboratory closed, when using the fume hood.
Open doors, windows, and persons walking by the face of the hood can cause
unnecessary turbulence and unwanted chemical exposure
Although fume hoods are often equipped with cup sinks and drains, they are to be
used only for the discharge of water. Never dump or discharge any chemical or
chemical waste into a sink or drain, regardless of location
Separate equipment and instruments in the hood, and provide adequate space to
the rear of the container to allow for proper exhaust flow.
Fume / exhaust hood velocity should be set between 100 and 125 fpm to adequately
control the contaminants within. Higher velocities are neither warranted nor preferred, as
it will create turbulence and increase the risk of unwanted chemical exposure. Specialized
fume hoods, such as those used specifically for perchloric acid, which utilize water spray
systems to wash down interior walls, fans, stacks, ducts and special drains should be used
when work involves the use of that particular chemical. Under no circumstances should a
fume hood, which was not designed for a specific chemical, be used for that purpose.
Fume and exhaust hoods are tested annually for proper flow and operation by the
Chemical Hygiene Officer or Environmental Health and Safety. If you suspect a
deficiency in the interim, contact the Physical Plant for corrective action.
Biological Safety Cabinets are typically located within the department of Biology, and
used for the containment of biological agents. For health and safety reasons fume hoods
should never be used for biological agents, and biological safety cabinets must not be
used for chemical containment or experimentation. Bio-safety cabinets classified as I, II
or III are equipped with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, which protect the
users from exposure to particulates, such as bacteria and viruses. These HEPA filters do
not absorb chemical vapors or gases, and in some cases re circulate air back into the work
area. Many bio-safety cabinets have ultra-violet lights for added protection, but this type
of radiation must be used with caution, as serious burns can result. For equipment like
this, special training and warnings are required. The PI and Laboratory Safety
Coordinator are responsible for this type of training, following manufacturer’s
Testing of bio-safety cabinets is the responsibility of the Laboratory Safety Coordinator.
The frequency of testing manufacturer specific and should be noted on the face of the
Flammable storage cabinets are used for the storage of flammable liquids. The capacity
of the cabinet is manufacturer specific, typically 30 or 45 gallon, but smaller sizes are
available. These cabinets, which must be approved by a recognized testing agency, such
as UL or FM must be either red or yello w in color, and shall be labeled appropriately.
On both sides of the cabinet there are caps that cover a built-in flash arrestor. These caps
or covers must not be removed, as it will defeat the integrity of the flammable storage
The storage inside the cabinet must be compatible (combustible and flammable liquids).
Corrosives and oxidizers are not permitted. The number of flammable storage cabinets in
the laboratory or studio is dependant on size of the facility, and should not be placed next
to electrical equipment, or the means of egress from the room. The sole purpose of the
flammable storage cabinet is to allow persons within the facility the ability to evacuate
the room, before the contents of the cabinet become involved in fire. Doors to the cabinet
must be kept closed and in proper working order.
Flammable Storage and Explosion-Proof Refrigerators and Freezers shall be utilized for
the storage of flammable liquids, regardless of quantity. These refrigerators, which are
manufactured without interior switches, internal lights, fans or thermostats, are designed
to prevent the possibility of spark in the event of a chemical leak, spill or vapor buildup.
They are specifically approved for this type of storage and use by a nationally recognized
testing agency (UL), and can not be altered by the persons within the laboratory, without
voiding the approval or warranty. Under no circumstances, for reasons of liability can the
College, an employee or an outside contractor attempt to retrofit an ordinary household
refrigerator for the purpose of storing flammable liquids. The refrigerator must be
purchased specifically for the intended storage.
Household-type refrigerators, if used within the laboratory must be labeled;
Do Not Place or Store
Flammable Liquids in this Refrigerator
Additional refrigerator requirements include;
Periodically inspect the refrigerator contents for chemicals no longer wanted or
Insure that all materials are properly and legibly labeled.
Clean the refrigerator occasionally to prevent ice buildup
Make sure that all containers are properly capped, using the approved screw top
Consider the placement of secondary containers, to avoid the spread of chemical
spills or leaks.
Verify that the chemicals are compatibly stored, to prevent an internal reaction.
Microwave ovens located within a laboratory or studio shall not be used for the
preparation of food or beverages. Signage should be attached to the microwave that
For Laboratory Use Only
Do Not Use for Beverage or Food.
Compressed gases require special handling and storage within the laboratory or studio.
Although most of the gases that we use on campus are inert or essentially non-hazardous
they still pose a safety risk. Pressures within the cylinders can exceed 2000 psi, capable
of inflicting significant injury to the handler or serious damage to the building. For many
reasons, the Department of Transportation (DOT), OSHA and the Compressed Gas
Association have established the following requirements;
Order gas cylinders in sizes that will actually be used
Consideration should be taken when ordering lecture size cylinders, as many
companies will not take them back or exchange them, creating a disposal problem
for the College.
Use care when ordering new or exotic types of gases. Many are hazardous and
should be carefully researched, before purchase. There are often safer alternatives
Install and use gases and cylinders in a manner directed by the manufacturer or
the Compressed Gas Association, and/or contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer or
Environmental Health and Safety for additional health and safety requirements.
Gas cylinders must be stored and transported upright.
o Chains or straps are required
The use of string, thin wire or coat hangers is not permitted.
The cylinder must be properly labeled, capped or regulated.
Cylinders must be properly segregated by compatibility
Separated when empty, and
Not placed in close proximity to electrical equipment or outlets
A Chemical Inventory/Management System is now required for regulatory reasons by the
state and federal environmental protection agencies. The purpose of the chemical
database is to monitor the purchase, use and proper disposal of chemicals, and more
specifically, hazardous waste. It provides the College with a means to reduce chemical
storage and waste by encouraging concepts like recycling, micro-scale purchasing and
reduced spending on chemicals that will, if not used, end up as a more costly hazardous
waste. Twice annually, Amherst College is required to submit a report to three state
regulatory agencies, as well as the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and
the Amherst Fire Department. This chemical database (inventory) identifies the
hazardous materials we currently use, as well as the quantities and locations of that
material, for proper emergency response. The database indicates the chemical’s health
and physical properties, storage requirements, incompatibilities, NFPA 704 and HMIS
values, vendor information and Material Safety Data Sheets. Additionally, it provides the
state regulatory agencies with a means to evaluate our chemical control measures, and
hopefully indicate that the goal of this institution is the reduction of hazardous materials
The Amherst College Chemical Inventory System is the ChIM (Chemical Inventory
Management) system, developed by Vertere. The system incorporates the use of a bar
code, which is specifically assigned to a single container for recordkeeping purposes. The
database for each chemical is laboratory specific and must include the following
information for tracking purposes;
Room / Area
After the above referenced site has been set up, chemicals are then placed on the
inventory for that site. The specific chemical information needed for inclusion in
CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) Number
Room or Area of actual chemical placement
After the chemical has been entered into the database, using the appropriate two section
increment (top section), decrementing (lower section) sheet, the chemical is now
considered on-site, and part of the inventory. The only way to eliminate the material from
the database, which is the goal, is to either use up the contents of the container, or transfer
the chemical to another site (building and/or room). The increment/decrement sheets are
collected weekly, if used, and the database updated.
The database will allow professors to track the chemicals in their laboratories, as well as
identify other locations from which a specific chemical can re acquired, thus reducing the
cost of purchase and future disposal.
Chemical waste storage and disposal is a major concern for every laboratory, studio, or
other facility that generates hazardous waste. Regulatory fines in excess of 8 million
dollars have been levied against single colleges and universities for non-compliance of
hazardous waste regulations, earlier referred to as RCRA. The following are the
collective requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
Chemical waste containers, regardless of size
must have the words “Hazardous Waste” on container
must be labeled with the exact contents (no abbreviations or symbols) as well as
the specific hazard
o Acetone Waste
caps and covers must be tightly affixed to the containers, except when actively
filling or discharging the container
must be placed in adequate secondary containment to prevent spillage
o the secondary containers must also be labeled “Hazardous Waste”
o be placed below or in close proximity to a sign that reads
“Secondary Accumulation Area”
o must not contain two containers of the same hazardous waste
o must contain chemically compatible materials
o must not a “full” bottle of hazardous waste for greater than 3 days
o must be well maintained, at all times
must be kept within the actual area of generation, and not transported from site to
site for purposes of convenience
must be informally inspected each time the laboratory or studio is used for leaks,
spills, labels and covers, and then formally inspected at least once a week, with
proof of such inspection recorded on the inspection sheet, located at each Satellite
Accumulation Area (SAA).
Proper chemical waste disposal is extremely important to Amherst College. It must be
handled in accordance with all local, state and federal requirements. Whenever hazardous
waste or unwanted materials need to be discarded, they are placed into one of three
closely monitored Main Accumulation Areas under the control of the Chemical Hygiene
Officer or Environmental Health and Safety, and then packaged, documented
(manifested) and shipped off-site (at least every 90 days) to a recognized Transportation,
Storage, Disposal Facility (TSDF) regulated by the federal EPA.
Under absolutely no conditions should any chemical or chemical waste (including
cleaning materials, oil, anti-freeze etc) be discharged to a sink drain/sanitary sewer or
Chemical transportation through the corridors must be performed properly and safely.
The use of adequate secondary containment, including absorbent material and tight fitting
cover is required to reduce the risk of spill and personal injury, within an egress corridor.
If the elevator must be utilized for the relocation of chemicals, the secondary containment
must be incorporated. A chemical spill of a flammable liquid in the elevator could cause a
fire inside the elevator car, from which you may not be able to escape. Electrical
connections above and below the elevator would be the ignition source for the fuel
(flammable liquid) just broken within. Corrosives and poisons mishandled or broken
within the elevator could asphyxiate or poison the occupant, before they are able to
Personal Protective Equipment in the laboratory, studio or similar facilities is often site
specific. The PI, Laboratory Safety Coordinator, Chemical Hygiene Officer and/or
Environmental Health and Safety can assist with the selection of the most appropriate
protection. As noted earlier, facility occupants and user must take responsibility for their
own protection, as they are the individuals performing the actual work, with the
chemicals required. One of the best and most appropriate sources of information on the
selection of personal protective equipment is the MSDS. Does the chemical have splash
potential, is it corrosive, flammable or toxic, does it give off a fume, gas or vapor, is it
compatible with the gloves or eyewear we have in the laboratory, or will it disintegrate
with contact. When utilizing chemicals, personnel must pre-plan their work and follow
clothing should cover the entire body to prevent chemical contact
o Shorts and skirts should not be worn in the laboratory
o Open toe shoes are not permitted
o Laboratory coats suitable for the type of hazard are strongly recommended
protective eyewear for chemical use, when splash is a possibility require the use
of goggles, not safety glasses
o depending on the type of hazard, a face shield may be placed over the
goggles, but never substituted for the goggles.
long hair must be pulled or tied back to prevent entanglement in equipment
jewelry should be removed, including rings, as they become caught on or in
equipment, or become part of an electrical source.
gloves should be chemical compatible, doubled up in case of tear of breakdown
respirators, if needed must be approved by the Office of Environmental Health
and Safety. Special requirements, including medical evaluations at Cooley
Dickinson Hospital, pulmonary function tests and/or chest x-rays are required as
part of the OSHA standards and the College Respiratory Protection Plan. The use
of a respirator is permitted only after all engineering controls have been
considered and proper fit testing and training has been provided.
Beverages, cosmetics, food and smoking are prohibited in laboratories, studios and other
places where chemicals are stored or used. OSHA, as referenced in the Laboratory
Standard and the Amherst College Chemical Hygiene Plan prohibits the introduction of
these materials into the above referenced facilities because they readily absorb chemicals,
allowing the contaminated food and beverages to be consumed by the facility user. For
that reason, and because the practice is considered very unhealthy or unsafe, the
placement of food stuffs in a refrigerator, used for the storage of chemicals is also
prohibited. Additionally, the introduction of beverages, cosmetics and food into a
laboratory used for work involving radioactivity is a citable offense that could result in
inability to use radioactive materials, or actual loss of license.
Radioactive materials laboratories are special facilities on campus that must follow
stringent regulatory requirements. In order to work with radioactive materials, you must
first be trained. These training requirements, mandated by the Massachusetts Department
of Public Health are necessary to insure your health and well-being. It is the
responsibility of the PI to make you aware of the materials you will or may be working
with, assisting you with the training programs, which are currently available through the
University of Massachusetts / Amherst Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
Each laboratory at Amherst College used for work involving radioactivity is inspected
monthly by the UMass / Amherst EH&S program, under the direction of the Radiation
Safety Officer. Occasionally, at intervals of not greater than five years, the Radiation
Safety Program and our radioactive laboratories, including training requirements, storage
practices and any “areas of concern” are evaluated by the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts for compliance and maintenance of license.
For additional information (including training) on specialized laboratory facilities like
those used for radiation, lasers and x-rays, refer to the Amherst College Environmental
Health and Safety Webpage at www.amherst.edu/~ehs.
The following are some additional health and safety requirements for laboratory and
studio work involving the use of chemicals;
Unattended Laboratory Operations
o All chemical containers, including reaction vessels and process equipment
must be labeled.
o Emergency telephone numbers for the responsible person must be posted
on the laboratory door
o A sign which reads “let run” must be posted in close proximity to the
o A laboratory light must illuminate the process at all times for monitoring
by the Amherst College Campus Police
o Provide adequate secondary containment for the experiment, should a
o Never use unsafe or damaged electrical equipment in the laboratory or
o In wet locations, equipment must be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit
o Damaged cords (primary and extension) must be removed from service
Be very concerned about bad or frayed cord/plug connections on
laboratory equipment, as serious personal injury has resulted.
o Electrical cords can not pass through doorways, walls or above ceilings
Working alone in the laboratory is strongly discouraged.
o Approval and special instructions must be obtained from the laboratory PI
before working alone is permitted.
o Under no circumstances should working alone be permitted if it is
Chemical Leaks and Spills must be reported, immediately to best protect the
faculty, staff, students, visitors and property of the college.
o Notify the Campus Police at 542-2111
Do not drink water form the laboratory sinks
o This water is non-potable, and should not be consumed.
Visitors and Guests in the Laboratory
o Are required to follow the same health and safety standards as the
occupants of the facility, including the use of personal protective
Hazardous Laboratory Operations
o Before initiating any hazardous or highly hazardous work in the
laboratory, consult with the laboratory PI and/or Laboratory Safety
Coordinator. Proper training and pre-planning is required to help reduce
the risk of illness or injury.
For additional assistance and specialized training, contact you laboratory PI, Laboratory
Safety Coordinator, Chemical Hygiene Officer and/or Environmental Health and Safety.
If you have any additional comments, concerns or questions regarding this safety
training, specific to laboratory safety, please feel free to e-mail us at
Good luck on the test, and enjoy your semester.
1. Which regulatory agency is responsible for protecting the environment and
enforces rules and regulations on hazardous waste, as required by RCRA?
2. The document, which must be made available to the faculty, staff, students or
visitors, that identifies the hazards of a particular chemical, first aid procedures,
emergency telephone numbers, proper personal protective equipment and storage
c. Chemical Abstract
d. Manufacturer’s Specifications
3. Flammable Storage Cabinets come in a few different sizes. What colors by law,
are deemed acceptable for Flammable Storage Cabinets under OSHA?
e. both b and c
f. both a and d
g. all the above
4. Who is responsible for creating an evacuation plan for an individual lab within an
institution such as Amherst College, in case of an emergency.
a. the President
b. Environmental Health and Safety Officer
c. Lab PI
d. Chemical Hygiene Officer
5. How far away from the science buildings being evacuated, must the pre-designated
6. If you happen to discover a fire or see smoke coming from a lab, studio, or building,
you should do the following in this order.
a. Alert persons in the immediate area.
b. Pull the closest Fire Alarm and phone the Campus Police at 542-2111.
c. Close the door to contain the fire or smoke.
d. Extinguish the fire and/or evacuate the building.
Correct order is
7. When should someone use an emergency shower in a laboratory?
a. after a chemical spill to the hands and arms
b. after jogging two miles around campus
c. after a chemical spill to the clothing
d. both a and c
8. MSDS’s (Material Safety Data Sheets) as a minimum, must have…
a. the name of the actual chemical(s) and/or trade name.
b. chemical, physical and toxicological properties of the substance.
c. handling, storage and disposal requirements.
d. emergency and first aid procedures, including manufacturer or distributor
emergency telephone numbers
e. all the above
9. When transporting chemicals from different levels of a building in an elevator, ______
must be used.
a. a cart
c. secondary containment and a tight fitting cover
e. all the above
10. What types of protection, do Fume Hoods in Laboratories provide its users?
a. protects from toxic and unpleasant materials
b. explosions and fires
c. chemical stench
d. all the above
11. Corrosive, flammable, reactive and toxic are…
a. are hazardous properties, characteristics a chemical can have ,that would allow
it to be covered under RCRA.
b. are the hazardous properties, characteristics a chemical can have, that one
could find in some laboratories in both the Chemistry and Biology departments.
c. are hazardous properties, characteristics a chemical can have, that can be found
in some of the studios in Fayerweather Hall, as well as some of the labs in
d. are hazardous properties in some cleaning products that can be found campus
wide, as well as many homes and kitchens.
e. all the above.
12. True or False. A chemical when being transferred out of its original container
into another container, must meet the following requirements in order to maintain
- The chemical must be compatible with the container it is being placed in, and has
been cleaned appropriately, prior to the introduction of the material
- The chemical or trade name must be legibly placed on the container, taking
environmental conditions into account.
- The hazard type must also be placed on the container, beneath the actual name of
the material, such as corrosive, flammable or toxic.
- The name of the material or chemical must be spelled out completely, without
abbreviations or chemical symbols.
13. TSDF is an abbreviation for…
a. Transportation, Storage, Disposal Facility
b. Transportation, Standard, Displacement, Facility
c. Training, Students, Directors, and Faculty
d. Table, Specific, Displacement, Formula
14. RCRA is an abbreviation for…
a. Research, Criteria, Resource, Analyzed
b. Resource, Conservative, Republican, Agent
c. Resource, Conservation, Recovery, Act
d. Reading, Correctly, Requires, Attention
15. Out of the statements below, based on what you’ve read, what is the greatest
advantage to keeping a laboratory habitually clean and neat?
a. Good housekeeping habits suggest regulatory compliance and lessens the risk
of a very detailed, all-encompassing inspection. Good labeling and signage
throughout the laboratory keeps them organized and neat,
chemicals and supplies are much easier to find as well.
b. Clean and neat laboratories are more pleasant to work in.
c. Good housekeeping practices in a lab can teach the students some
d. A clean lab suggests that the laboratory may not get used all that often.
16. In the event of a fire alarm, every person in the building is required to evacuate.
When exiting the building, everyone should use the closest EXIT door, and proceed
to the designated, pre-identified area. No person should re-enter the building until
the following has occurred;
a. Both the Chemical Hygiene Officer and Environmental Health and Safety
Officer, conduct an immediate inspection, then grant access to the building.
b. The lab PI is granted permission to inspect his/her laboratory after the alarm
has silenced, once the inspection is complete, at the PI’s discretion, occupants
of the labs may then re-enter the building.
c. The Fire Alarm has been silenced, and permission to re-enter the building has
been granted by the Amherst Fire Department and the Amherst College
d. The Fire Alarm has been silenced, and permission to re-enter the building has
been authorized by phone from the President of Amherst College.
17. Radioactive materials laboratories are special facilities on campus that must
follow stringent regulatory requirements. In order to work with radioactive
materials, you must first be trained. It is the responsibility of the PI to make you
aware of the materials you will or may be working with, assisting you with the
training programs, which are currently available through…
a. the University of Massachusetts / Lowell Office of Environmental Health and
b. the University of Massachusetts / Amherst Office of Environmental Health and
c. the Amherst College Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
d. the Town of Amherst Radioactive Institute.
18. The Amherst College Chemical Inventory System is the ChIM (Chemical Inventory
Management) system, developed by Vertere. The system incorporates the use of a bar
code, which is specifically assigned to a single container for recordkeeping purposes.
The database for each chemical is laboratory specific and must include the following
information for tracking purposes.
b. Room / Area
e. all the above
19. Before working in a laboratory or studio where hazardous materials and waste are
used and/or stored, training must be provided. The training must include, but shall not be
limited to any facility specific programs for that location, including;
a. Emergency Action Plans for Chemical, Fire and Medical Emergencies
b. Exposure Control Plan, or Bloodborne Pathogens
c. Hazard Communications or Right-to-Know (MSDS)
d. Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories
e. all the above
20. True or False.
Biological Safety Cabinets are typically located within the department of Biology,
and used for the containment of biological agents. For health and safety reasons, fume
hoods should never be used for biological agents, and biological safety cabinets must
not be used for chemical containment or experimentation.
21. Fume / exhaust hood velocity should be set between ___ and ___ fpm to adequately
control the contaminants within.
a. 75 and 115
b. 100 and 125
c. 120 and 145
d. none of the above
22. A person in the laboratory complains of being light headed and sick to the stomach
after exposure to a chemical. You should…
a. run out of the lab and scream for help.
b. open all window in the lab for ventilation.
c. relocate person out of the laboratory and call 542-2111.
d. drag the person under the emergency shower and pull the lever.
23. When filling out the increment section on a Chemical Inventory sheet, besides the
location information that’s required, what specific chemical information is needed
for inclusion in the database?
a. Chemical Name
b. CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) Number
c. Manufacturer’s Name
d. Product number
e. all the above
24. How often are exhaust hoods tested for proper flow and operation by the Chemical
Hygiene Officer or Environmental Health and Safety?
25. What information would one expect to find on a Laboratory Safety Information Card
that is posted on the door to each lab.
a. Names of the responsible parties, including the principal investigators
b. Phone numbers, in cases of emergencies.
c. Facility hazards, biological materials, lasers, radioactivity and x-rays.
d. NFPA diamond indicating a rating scale between 1- 4 for hazardous
characteristics such as ignitability, corrosiveness, and reactivity
e. all the above
26. True or False.