Section 1: Laboratory Safety at Princeton University

SECTION 1: Laboratory Safety at Princeton University

Introduction (top)

Princeton University is committed to providing a safe laboratory environment for its faculty, staff, students and visitors. The goal of the University Laboratory Safety Program is to minimize the risk of injury or illness to laboratory workers by ensuring that they have the training, information, support and equipment needed to work safely in the laboratory.

The three basic elements of the Laboratory Safety Program are:

  • The departmental safety program led by the Chemical Hygiene Officer(s)
  • Laboratory safety support and training by Environmental Health and Safety
  • Instruction and oversight by an individual's supervisor or Principal Investigator

All laboratory workers, including faculty, staff and most students, are required to attend Laboratory Safety Training given by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) staff. This training gives an overview of general laboratory safety principles, references and resources for more specific safety information, and details about several support programs, such as the hazardous waste disposal program. The training supplements instruction given by supervisors and Principal Investigators regarding safe work practices for specific chemicals and equipment.

EHS provides training, resources and consultation for a variety of laboratory safety issues, including chemical safety, laser safety, biological safety, radiation safety, electrical safety and other topics. The EHS web page offers a wide range of resources for many aspects of laboratory safety.


OSHA Laboratory Standard (top)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated a regulation entitled Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, otherwise known as the Laboratory Standard.

The goal of the Lab Standard is to ensure that laboratory workers are informed about the hazards of chemicals in their workplace and are protected from chemical exposures exceeding allowable levels (e.g., OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits).

All individuals who work with hazardous chemicals in science and engineering laboratories are obligated to comply with the Lab Standard. Work with chemicals outside of laboratories is covered by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.

For more information about how a particular department complies with the Laboratory Standard, see the Departmental Chemical Hygiene Plan.


Princeton University Policies (top)

Environmental, Health and Safety Policy

Princeton University is committed to providing a safe and healthful environment for its employees, students and visitors and managing the University in an environmentally
sensitive and responsible manner.  We further recognize an obligation to demonstrate safety and environmental leadership by maintaining the highest standards and serving as an example to our students as well as the community at large.

The University will strive to continuously improve our safety and environmental performance by adhering to the following policy objectives:

  • Developing and improving programs and procedures to assure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
  • Ensuring that personnel are properly trained and provided with appropriate safety and emergency equipment
  • Taking appropriate action to correct hazards or conditions that endanger health, safety, or the environment
  • Considering safety and environmental factors in all operating decisions including  planning and acquisition
  • Engaging in sound reuse and recycling practices and exploring feasible opportunities to minimize the amount and toxicity of waste generated
  • Using energy efficiently throughout our operations
  • Encouraging personal accountability and emphasizing compliance with standards and conformance with University policies and best practices during employee training and in performance reviews
  • Communicating our desire to continuously improve our performance and fostering the expectation that every employee, student, and contractor on University premises will follow this policy and report any environmental, health, or safety concern to Princeton University management.
  • Monitoring our progress through periodic evaluations

Laboratory Security Policy

Safeguarding University resources from unauthorized access, misuse or removal is a duty of all faculty and staff.  In laboratories, this obligation rests primarily with the Principal Investigator; however, all laboratory personnel have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions against theft or misuse of materials, particularly those that could threaten the public.  Any extraordinary laboratory security measures should be commensurate with the potential risks and imposed in a manner that does not unreasonably hamper research.

At a minimum, the institution expects all laboratory personnel to comply with the following security procedures:

  • Question the presence of unfamiliar individuals in laboratories and report all suspicious activity immediately to Public Safety by calling 8-1000
  • After normal business hours, all laboratories must be locked when not in use

Laboratory building exterior doors are secured after normal business hours.  To minimize the likelihood of unauthorized access, all after-hours building users should:

  • Avoid providing building access to unfamiliar individuals
  • Secure doors behind them
  • Immediately report any building security problem to Public Safety at 8-3134.

Research or other activities involving the use of lab space, materials or equipment without the knowledge and approval of the responsible Principal Investigator is strictly prohibited.  Violation of this prohibition may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.


Roles and Responsibilities (top)

Departmental Chemical Hygiene Officer

  • Establish and implement a Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  • Review and update the Chemical Hygiene Plan at least annually.
  • Investigate accidents and chemical exposures within the department.
  • Act as a liaison between the department and EHS for laboratory safety issues.
  • Maintain records of training, exposure monitoring and medical examinations.
  • Ensure laboratory workers receive chemical and procedure-specific training.
  • Review and approve use of particularly hazardous substances.
  • Approve laboratory worker's return to work following a chemical exposure requiring medical consultation.

Principal Investigators

  • Ensure laboratory workers attend general training given by EHS.
  • Ensure laboratory workers understand how to work with chemicals safely. Provide chemical and procedure-specific training, as needed.
  • Provide laboratory workers with appropriate engineering controls and personal protective equipment needed to work safely with hazardous materials. Ensure such equipment is used correctly.
  • Ensure laboratory workers complete and submit Particularly Hazardous Substance Use Approval forms and submit them for approval before using any particularly hazardous substance.
  • Review and approve work with particularly hazardous substances.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

  • Conduct exposure monitoring, as needed.
  • Provide general training.
  • Audit the departmental program periodically.
  • Provide safe working guidelines for laboratory workers through the EHS web page.
  • Review the model Chemical Hygiene Plan at least annually
  • Inspect fume hoods annually
  • Provide consultation for safe work practices for hazardous chemicals
  • Conduct limited laboratory safety inspections annually
  • Develop and maintain the Laboratory Safety Manual

Laboratory Worker