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This manual is a safety reference document for laboratory personnel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The University’s Department of Environment, Health & Safety prepared this manual, followed by review and approval from both the University’s Laboratory and Chemical Safety Committee (LCSC) and the University Safety and Security Committee (USSC). This manual provides basic information about hazards that you may encounter in the laboratory and safety precautions to prevent laboratory accidents and minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals. The Laboratory Safety Manual is part of the University’s “Chemical Hygiene Plan” required by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in its “Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories” Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450).

Each laboratory that uses hazardous materials must have a copy of this manual readily accessible to employees in the laboratory. Each laboratory worker must be familiar with the contents that pertain to his or her workplace and the procedures for obtaining additional safety information needed to perform his or her duties safely.

In order to keep the contents of this manual up-to-date with current regulations and best practices, EHS may periodically rewrite, add, or delete sections. You are not required to keep a printed copy of this manual unless your work location does not have access to an electronic version.

Comments and suggestions for improving the manual are welcome and encouraged. Please send comments to:

Director, Environment, Health & Safety
1120 Estes Drive Extension, CB# 1650
(p) 919-962-5507; (f) 919-962-0227
Contact Form


Chapter One: Laboratory Safety at UNC-CH

This chapter outlines some of the basic regulations that govern laboratory safety, services offered by EHS, how to report injuries and incidents, laboratory self-inspections, and how to respond to fires and chemical spills.

This chapter outlines the responsibilities for laboratory safety and health that are borne and/or shared by the Principal Investigator, laboratory personnel, the academic department that houses your research group, and EHS. This chapter also describes the EHS Collaborative Laboratory Inspection Program (CLIP), key compliance issues that arise from laboratory inspections, and enforcement policies for non-compliance.

  1. Commitment to Safety
  2. The OSHA Laboratory Standard and the Chemical Hygiene Plan
  3. Cooperation
  4. Responsibilities
  5. Collaborative Laboratory Inspection Program
  6. Compliance with Laboratory Safety Standards
  7. The Most Important Laboratory Safety Factor
  8. How Safe is Your Lab? Laboratory Self-Assessment
  9. Request for Hazard Investigation
  10. Exposure Monitoring
  11. Reporting Injuries and Illnesses
  12. Medical Consultations and Examinations
  13. Information and Training
  14. Obtaining Safety Data Sheets
  15. Recordkeeping
  16. Planning for Emergencies
  17. Appendix 1-A: Completing the Laboratory/Radiation Worker Registration Form
  18. Appendix 1-B: Request for Monitoring
  19. Appendix 1-C: Request for Medical Consultation or Examination
  20. Appendix 1-D: UNC-Chapel Hill Laboratory Safety Self-Inspection Checklist

Chapter Two: Laboratory Safety Plan

This chapter provides detailed instructions for completing and updating the various schedules of a Laboratory Safety Plan. The Laboratory Safety Plan is a required document that outlines specific conditions, hazards, and controls in your laboratory spaces.

  1. Introduction
  2. Schedule A: Laboratory Project Information
  3. Schedule B: Hazardous Chemicals and Equipment
  4. Schedule C & D: Radioactive Materials and X-Ray Equipment
  5. Schedule E: Laser Equipment
  6. Schedule F: Biological Hazards
  7. Schedule G: Recombinant DNA
  8. Schedule H: Use of Transgenic Animals or Plants
  9. Schedule I: Shipping
  10. Appendix 2-A: Online Chemical Inventory Instructions

Chapter Three: General Safety Principles and Practices

This chapter lists and describes several major categories of hazardous materials and/or hazardous operations that you could work with in your lab. For each category, the chapter includes recommended safe work practices and regulatory requirements (if applicable).

  1. Safety Awareness
  2. Unattended Operations
  3. Eating, Drinking, and Smoking
  4. Housekeeping
  5. Working Alone
  6. Hazard Information Signs and Placards
  7. Labels on Chemical Containers
  8. Eyewash and Safety Shower Facilities
  9. Maintenance Personnel
  10. Equipment Decontamination
  11. Machine Guarding
  12. Safety Shielding
  13. Compressed Gases
  14. Systems Under Pressure
  15. Cold Traps and Cryogenic Hazards
  16. Glassware
  17. Needles and Sharps Safety
  18. Electrical Safety
  19. Storage in Buildings with Sprinkler Systems
  20. High School Students and Minors in Laboratories Policy
  21. Appendix 3-A: Safety Clearance Form
  22. Appendix 3-B: Cryogenic Hazards
  23. Appendix 3-C: Unattended Operation – Example Sign

Chapter Four: Proper Storage of Chemicals in Laboratories

This chapter instructs you how to interpret the labels on chemical containers, and how to safely store chemicals in the laboratory in a way that minimizes incompatible chemical reactions, spillage, breaking, or waste due to expiration.

  1. Inventory and Inspection
  2. Proper Sealing of Chemical Containers
  3. Smaller Container Sizes – Less is Better
  4. Storage Symbols
  5. Color Codes
  6. Chemical Storage Locations
  7. Storage by Compatibility Group
  8. Appendix 4-A: Suggested Shelf Storage Pattern

Chapter Five: Protective Clothing and Equipment

This chapter describes the various types of protective equipment and clothing that can protect you while working in the lab. Details for safe use, care, and acquisition are given for eye/face protection, gloves, lab apparel, foot protection, and respiratory protection.

  1. Eye and Face Protection
  2. Use of Gloves
  3. Laboratory Clothing and Protective Apparel
  4. Foot Protection
  5. Respiratory Protection
  6. Appendix 5-A: Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Respiratory Protection Standard
  7. Appendix 5-B: Glove Selection

Chapter Six: Safe Handling of Chemicals

This chapter discusses the major routes of exposure to chemical substances during laboratory work, and several safe handling practices that can minimize your risk while working with chemical substances. The last section lists practices for the safe use of hydrofluoric acid.

  1. Introduction
  2. Routes of Exposure
  3. Safe Handling Practices for Toxic Materials
  4. Specific Handling Procedures for Hydrofluoric Acid

Chapter Seven: Highly Toxic Chemicals and Select Carcinogens

This chapter supplements previous chapters by giving specific extra precautions, postings, training, and protective equipment necessary when working with substances that are highly toxic and/or select carcinogens. The appendices at the end of the chapter are a thorough (but not exhaustive) list of substances that might be present in your lab that are highly toxic and/or carcinogenic.

  1. Introduction
  2. Laboratory Safety Plans
  3. Facility Requirements
  4. Protective Clothing
  5. Use of Primary Containment Equipment
  6. Use and Decontamination of Analytical Instrumentation
  7. Storage, Inventory, and Identification
  8. Working Quantities
  9. Laboratory Transport
  10. Protection of Vacuum Lines
  11. Packaging and Shipping
  12. Decontamination
  13. Disposal
  14. Animal Experimentation
  15. Appendix 7-A: Highly Toxic Chemicals List
  16. Appendix 7-B: Select Carcinogens List

Chapter Eight: Reproductive Hazards

This chapter supplements previous chapters by giving specific extra precautions, postings, training, and protective equipment necessary when working with reproductive hazards. These include chemical, biological, or radiological substances that can affect the developing fetus, or the reproductive health of the male or female parents. This chapter also outlines the UNC conceptus protection policy for lab oratory workers who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy. The appendix at the end of the chapter is a thorough (but not exhaustive) list of known reproductive toxins that might be present in your laboratory.

  1. Introduction
  2. Laboratory Safety Plans
  3. Facility Requirements
  4. Protective Clothing
  5. Use of Primary Containment Equipment
  6. Use and Decontamination of Analytical Instrumentation
  7. Storage, Inventory, and Identification
  8. Working Quantities
  9. Laboratory Transport
  10. Protection of Vacuum Lines
  11. Packaging and Shipping
  12. Decontamination
  13. Disposal
  14. Animal Experimentation
  15. Reproductive Hazards and the Pregnant Employee
  16. Appendix 8-A: Reproductive Toxins List

Chapter Nine: Controlled Substances

This chapter gives definitions and protocols for chemicals that are classified as controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Controlled substances have special rules for acquisition, storage, security, inventory/recordkeeping, disposal, and importing or exporting, detailed in this chapter. The appendices include a current list of controlled substances and forms for inventory support and personnel screening.

  1. Introduction
  2. Controlled Substance Requirements
  3. Appendix 9-A: Controlled Substances – Alphabetical Order
  4. Appendix 9-B: Questionnaire for Personnel who will have Access to Substances Regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
  5. Appendix 9-C: Continuing Record for Acquisition and Disposition of Controlled Substances
  6. Appendix 9-D: Inventory of Schedule I and II Controlled Substances

Chapter Ten: Fire Safety

This chapter outlines the properties of flammable liquids, solids, and gases, the proper storage and use of flammable substances, and the properties of fire extinguishers.

  1. Introduction
  2. Properties of Flammable and Combustible Substances
  3. Sources of Ignition
  4. Use of Flammable Substances
  5. Storage Rules
  6. Fire Extinguisher Labeling
  7. Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
  8. Training
  9. Appendix 10-A: Allowed Container Sizes for Flammable and Combustible Liquids

Chapter Eleven: Explosive and Reactive Chemical Hazards

This chapter provides resources that can help you prevent a laboratory accident due to mishandling explosive substances, or mixing incompatible reactive substances. This chapter details several specific examples of explosive and reactive hazards that are common in laboratories.

  1. Introduction
  2. Explosive Materials in Laboratories
  3. Common Reactive Hazards in Laboratories

Chapter Twelve: Management of Laboratory Wastes

This chapter discusses the basic rules and restrictions for the accumulation, storage, and disposal of laboratory wastes. This chapter also includes a brief overview of the regulatory requirements and agencies having jurisdiction, and several waste management definitions.

  1. Introduction
  2. Hazardous Waste Inspections – Lids, Leaks, Labels, and Location
  3. Hazardous Waste Containers
  4. Chemical Waste Segregation
  5. “Unknowns” – Unidentified Chemicals
  6. Hazardous Waste Pickups
  7. Waste Minimization
  8. Disposal to Sewage System
  9. Disposal to General Waste – Broken Glass/Sharps
  10. Disposal of Compressed Gas Cylinders
  11. Disposal of Biohazard Waste
  12. Disposal of Radioactive Waste
  13. Empty Chemical Containers and Recycling
  14. Waste Definitions and Regulatory Terms
  15. Appendix 12-A: Maximum Concentration of Contaminants for the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure
  16. Appendix 12-B: P-Listed Wastes
  17. Appendix 12-C: U-Listed Wastes

Chapter Thirteen: Safe Handling of Peroxidizable Compounds

This chapter describes the hazards associated with peroxide formation in chemical compounds, methods to detect peroxides, safe handling, use, and storage of peroxidizable compounds, and how to remove peroxide contamination from chemicals.

  1. Introduction
  2. Peroxidizable Compounds
  3. Detection of Peroxides
  4. Storage
  5. Removal of Peroxides
  6. Disposal
  7. Distillation and Evaporation Precautions
  8. Safety Audit
  9. Appendix 13-A:

Chapter Fourteen: Safe Handling of Laboratory Animals

This chapter covers the hazards associated with laboratory animal handling, mandatory and recommended control practices, the institutional structures that UNC-Chapel Hill has in place to assure animal welfare, and requirements for using hazardous agents in laboratory animals.

  1. Introduction
  2. Regulatory Structure for Animal Handling at UNC-Chapel Hill
  3. Common Injuries Associated With Animal Husbandry and Care
  4. Safety in DLAM Facilities
  5. Animal-Related Hazards
  6. Use of Hazardous Agents in Animal Experimentation

Chapter Fifteen: Safe Handling of Biological Hazards

This chapter is an overview of the requirements for working with biological hazards. You can find more detailed information about working with biological hazards in the UNC Exposure Control Plan (Bloodborne Pathogens), the UNC Biological Safety Manual and on our website.

  1. Introduction
  2. Registering Biohazards for Use at UNC
  3. Human/Non-human Primate Blood, Blood Products, Body Fluids, Tissues, and Cells
  4. Training
  5. Signage for Laboratories Using Biological Hazards
  6. Medical Surveillance
  7. Exposure Reporting
  8. Biohazard Waste Disposal Policy
  9. Packaging and Shipping

Chapter Sixteen: Biological Safety Cabinets

This chapter describes the containment principles of biological safety cabinets (BSCs), the various classes and types of BSCs and their uses, how to select the correct type of BSC for your needs, how to get approval for installation of a BSC, and their installation and certification requirements.

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles of Containment
  3. Classification of Biological Safety Cabinets
  4. Laminar Flow Clean Benches
  5. Selection of Biological Safety Cabinets
  6. Installation and Certification of Biological Safety Cabinets
  7. Procedures for the Proper Use of a Class II Biological Safety Cabinet

Chapter Seventeen: Laboratory Hoods

This chapter describes safe work practices when using laboratory hoods, answers frequently asked questions about this important engineering control equipment, and references the Hood and Laboratory Ventilation Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  1. Introduction
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
  3. Laboratory Hood Work Practice Guidelines
  4. Snorkel Ducts
  5. Laboratory Hood and Ventilation Policy
  6. Appendix 17-A: Out-of-Service Posting for Hoods

Chapter Eighteen: Safe Use of Nanomaterials

This chapter discusses the unique properties of nanomaterials, solid superatomic materials with at least one dimension in the range of one to 100 nanometers. Subsequent sections discuss the potential safety and health concerns from nanomaterials (based on cell culture and animal studies), the routes of exposure, and guidance on how to prevent exposures to nanomaterials.

  1. Introduction
  2. Size and Types of Nanomaterials
  3. Uses of Nanoparticles/Nanomaterials
  4. Potential Health Effects of Nanomaterials
  5. Potential Safety Hazards of Nanomaterials
  6. Protective Measures
  7. Waste Handling
  8. Nanotechnology Safety Policy
  9. Conclusion