OESO Introduces Resources for Laboratories
October 13th, 2016
Resources for Laboratories

Chemical safety resources will help labs identify hazards and safe practices

In our continual effort to provide chemical safety support and maintain a safe laboratory work environment, OESO is introducing several chemical safety resources to help lab staff

  • Identify chemical hazards,
  • Recognize inherent hazards of chemicals, and
  • Work safely with chemicals in the laboratory. 

The new chemical safety resources for labs are described and linked below:

  • GHS Lookup Tool – This new Excel-based chemical lookup tool allows users to review chemical-specific hazard information as classified under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).  Users type or paste a CAS number into the tool, physical and health hazard information is immediately displayed, and an “Action” box succinctly notes the initial step(s) that need to be taken before working with the respective chemical.  The “Action” box also identifies if the chemical meets OESO’s criteria for particularly hazardous or high risk substances (see next bullet). Given the vast number of chemicals currently on the market and the rapid development of new chemicals, the lookup tool is not inclusive of all chemicals. Other resources (e.g. the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website, PubChem, and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from a manufacturer) should be consulted for chemicals not included in the tool.
  • GHS Criteria for particularly hazardous and high risk chemicals -   The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), now used on all new Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and chemical labels, provides clear and objective information about chemical hazards. The classification scheme, based on specific criteria, has allowed OESO to identify hazard classes and categories that we consider particularly hazardous or high risk. Lab personnel can refer to these definitions, along with the GHS lookup tool or SDSs for their chemicals, to determine which chemicals in their inventory are particularly hazardous or high risk. These chemicals require written lab-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) describing safe use.
  • Easy-to-read safety guideline format – New safety guidelines are currently available for several chemical hazard classes, including flammable & combustible liquids, oxidizers, and corrosives. Additional guidelines are being developed and will be published over the next several months, replacing existing text-based SOPs. These guidelines can be used as a starting point for lab-specific SOP development or a quick access guide to a broad range of chemical-related safety information relevant to that specific hazard class.  We will also be creating safety guidelines for a selection of particularly hazardous/high risk chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid. The chemical-specific guidelines can be referenced by lab-specific SOPs for those chemicals.
  • SOP Template and SOP Creation Guidelines – Our new SOP template and guidelines are intended to streamline the process of SOP development while also helping the researcher to recognize and incorporate steps within the SOP that minimize or eliminate potential hazards. The Chemical SOP “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page has been updated as well.
  • Updated bleach/sodium hyprochlorite labels and new safety guidelines for bleach – The premade GHS labels for bleach, 10% bleach, and 10-20% sodium hypochlorite solution have been updated. The biggest changes are for the 10% bleach label, which now reflects hazards for solutions containing up to 2% sodium hypochlorite in water. The new safety guidelines for bleach replace the former bleach SOP and bleach incompatibility information sheet.