BOX 2.1Chemical Hygiene Responsibilities in a Typical Academic Institution

Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO)

The duties of the CHO vary widely from one institution to another but may include the following:

  • Establish, maintain, and revise the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP).
  • Create and revise safety rules and regulations.
  • Serve on appropriate safety committees.
  • Monitor procurement, use, storage, and disposal of chemicals.
  • Conduct regular inspections of the laboratories, preparations rooms, and chemical storage rooms, and submit detailed laboratory inspection reports to administration.
  • Maintain inspection, personnel training, and inventory records.
  • Oversee chemical inventory updates.
  • Assist laboratory supervisors in developing and maintaining adequate facilities.
  • Know current legal requirements concerning regulated substances.
  • Seek ways to improve the chemical hygiene program.
  • Attend CHO training that is conducted by the institution.
  • Encourage laboratory personnel to attend specialized training that is provided by the institution (i.e., first-aid training, fire extinguisher training, and gas cylinder training).
  • Notify employees of the availability of medical attention under the following circumstances:

    Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed in the laboratory;

    Where exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration-regulated substance for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements;

    Whenever a spill, leak, explosion, or other occurrence resulting in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure occurs, a medical consultation to ascertain if a medical examination is warranted.

Department Chairperson or Director

  • Assumes responsibility for personnel engaged in the laboratory use of hazardous chemicals.
  • Provides the CHO with the support necessary to implement and maintain the CHP.
  • After receipt of laboratory inspection report from the CHO, meets with laboratory supervisors to discuss cited violations and to ensure timely actions to protect trained laboratory personnel and facilities and to ensure that the department remains in compliance with all applicable federal, state, university, local, and departmental codes and regulations.
  • Provides budgetary arrangements to ensure the health and safety of the departmental personnel, visitors, and students.
  • Serves as chair of the departmental safety committee and appoints a faculty member and a graduate student member, if applicable, to serve on the departmental safety committee.

Departmental Safety Committee

  • Reviews accident reports and makes appropriate recommendations to the department chairperson regarding proposed changes in the laboratory procedures.
  • Performs laboratory inspections on an annual basis, or as needed. Prepares a detailed inspection report to be submitted to each faculty member/laboratory supervisor.

Laboratory Supervisor

  • Ensures that laboratory personnel comply with the departmental CHP and do not operate equipment or handle hazardous chemicals without proper training and authorization.
  • Always wears personal protective equipment (PPE) that is compatible to the degree of hazard of the chemical.
  • Follows all pertinent safety rules when working in the laboratory to set an example.
  • Reviews laboratory procedures for potential safety problems before assigning to other laboratory personnel.
  • Ensures that visitors follow the laboratory rules and assumes responsibility for laboratory visitors
  • Ensures that PPE is available and properly used by each laboratory employee and visitor.
  • Maintains and implements safe laboratory practices.
  • Monitors the facilities and the chemical fume hoods to ensure that they are maintained and function properly. Contacts the appropriate person, as designated by the department chairperson, to report problems with the facilities or the chemical fume hoods.

Laboratory Personnel

  • Reads, understands, and follows all safety rules and regulations that apply to the work area.
  • Plans and conducts each operation, laboratory class, or research project in accordance with the departmental and institutional CHP.
  • Promotes good housekeeping practices in the laboratory or work area.
  • Communicates appropriate portions of the CHP to students in the work area.
  • Notifies the supervisor of any hazardous conditions or unsafe work practices in the work area.
  • Uses PPE as appropriate for each procedure that involves hazardous chemicals.
  • Immediately reports any job-related illness or injury to the supervisor.

Facilities, Maintenance, and Custodial Service Personnel Assigned to Laboratories and Laboratory Areas

  • Completes training on CHP awareness.
  • Understands how to read and use MSDSs.
  • Knows hazards of the chemicals being used.
  • Obtains information about hazards in the work area from lab personnel before work is started.

From: 2, Environmental Health and Safety Management System

Cover of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory
Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version.
National Research Council (US) Committee on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.

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