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Occupational & Environmental Safety Office» Occupational Hygiene & Safety
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Chemical Hygiene
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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. There are additional requirements for SOPs for particularly hazardous substances, or PHSs. (See the Particularly Hazardous Substances | Personal Protective Equipment | Reproductive Health page for a searchable database of these toxic chemicals.) Other chemical classes (such as explosives, peroxide formers, or pyrophoric materials) should also have written SOPs. These SOPs are an important part of each laboratory’s site-specific chemical hygiene plan.


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). There is a slightly more user-friendly interface available online through www.netlibrary.com for one Duke user at a time (type "prudent practices" in the search). A print or .pdf version of the book can be purchased for your lab.

 
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