Chemical Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
What is a Standard Operating Procedure?
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) describes how your lab will handle a hazardous chemical safely, including the amount and concentration you will use, how you obtain or create the working solution, and special handling procedures, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment. SOP Templates and some chemical-specific SOPs are found on our Chemical SOPs and SOP Template page.
When is an SOP required?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a written SOP for any work with hazardous chemicals in laboratories. Many of the SOPs on the OESO SOPs and SOP Templates website can be used in the format provided, without modification by the lab. Requirements for laboratory-specific SOPs are indicated below.
When is a laboratory-specific SOP required?
Laboratory-specific, customized SOPs must be created for chemicals or procedures that pose unique hazards that are not covered in or differ from the general SOPs on the Chemical SOPs page and/or the general strategies presented in the Chemical Hygiene/Safety Section of the Lab Safety Manual. Laboratory-specific SOPs are required for particularly hazardous substances, or PHSs. (See the Particularly Hazardous Substances page for a searchable list of these toxic chemicals.) Other chemical classes (such as explosives, peroxide formers, or pyrophoric materials) will also need lab-specific SOPs.
More specific requirements for customized SOPs are included in Chapter 5 of the Chemical Hygiene/Safety Section of the Lab Safety Manual.
Is a specific format required?
No, but your SOP must include any relevant information from all of the sections included in our SOP Templates.
If I have a written protocol describing the steps of my experiment, can I simply incorporate the important safety information into that document?
Yes. In fact, OESO encourages investigators to incorporate safety procedures into their experimental protocols. As long as the protocol includes information for all of the relevant sections from the SOP templates in a user-friendly format, there is no need for a separate safety SOP unless it is useful to the lab for training purposes.
What resources are available to help me complete the SOP?
We recommend that each lab have a copy of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory, published by the National Research Council. The full contents of the book are available online here (Note that you can “Search This Book” for a particular chemical of interest, but that important safety information is included throughout the book). A print or .pdf version of the book can be purchased for your lab.
- For many commonly used chemicals, the Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries in Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (mentioned above) can be used as the basis for your SOP. Click here for an index of chemicals for which these summaries are available, with links to the first page for each of the summaries. Be aware that many of the chemical summaries cover more than one page. Click the "next" link (single right-facing arrow) to see subsequent pages.
- Materials Safety Data Sheets provide chemical-specific information. Check the manufacturer’s website or search our (M)SDS Resources page.
- For glove recommendations, try the Best Manufacturing's online glove guide or the Oklahoma State University EH&S Chemical Guide & Glove Permeation Table.
- If you have further questions, please consult the OESO Laboratory Safety group (part of Biological Safety) at 684-8822.
- Additionally, OESO has created some SOPs and SOP Templates for commonly-used chemicals. Please see our Chemical SOPs and SOP Template page for more information.