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Rice University General Policy No. 833-91




Through reference "a", OSHA addresses comprehensively the issue of evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals and communicating information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees. Reference "b" provides general industry standards dealing with toxic materials or harmful physical agents. Reference "c", promulgated as a "final rule" for occupational exposures to hazardous chemicals in laboratories, recognizes the very different nature of potential exposure to hazardous chemicals in a laboratory setting as opposed to an industrial production setting. This new regulation was developed to provide a standard appropriate for situations in which relatively small quantities of multiple chemicals are used on a non-production basis. It requires the development and implementation of a written Chemical Hygiene Plan by January 31, 1991.

The purpose of this policy is to establish a Chemical Hygiene Plan applicable to all teaching and research activities of Rice University.

This policy applies to all departments which have teaching or research laboratories. Departments that use hazardous chemicals must develop and implement their own Chemical Hygiene Plan, specific for their laboratories and complementary to this University Chemical Hygiene Plan. Other activities, Physical Plant and intercollegiate athletics, for example, may use toxic materials or harmful physical agents in other than a laboratory setting and therefore are subject to OSHA general industry standards.

The OSHA regulation, reference "c", requires that the employer (Rice University) protect employees from health hazardous chemicals in the laboratory. In this regard, employees at Rice University are considered to include faculty, staff, post doctoral and other research associates, and graduate and undergraduate research assistants, paid through the University for duties performed.

Permissible Exposure Limits and Employee Exposure Determination.  

For laboratory uses of OSHA-regulated substances, departments must assure that the laboratory procedures and practices that are used will minimize the chances of exposure of laboratory employees to such substances and ensures that, to the maximum extent possible, accidental exposures do not exceed the Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) specified in reference "b" (list attached). If there is reason to believe that employees may have been overexposed, the department must thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident or incidents of suspected overexposure and arrange to have the employees' exposure measured to determine if it was above the legal level. If the initial monitoring discloses that the employees' exposure has been over the action level (or in the absence of an action level, the PEL), departments must institute periodic monitoring in accordance with the exposure monitoring provisions of the relevant substance standard. Within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of any monitoring results the employee must be notified of these results in writing, either individually or by posting results in an appropriate location that is accessible to employees.


Standard operating procedures relevant to safety and health considerations  

Departments shall ensure that labels on incoming shipments of hazardous chemicals are not removed or defaced.

Departments shall maintain records of hazardous chemicals on hand and copies of any Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that are received by the University from chemical supply companies concerning incoming shipments of hazardous chemicals. Copies of the MSDS must be made readily accessible to all laboratory employees. Where hazardous chemicals procured from a supplier by one department may be transferred to another department, a copy of the applicable MSDS should also be provided and that department must make them readily accessible to all of their laboratory employees. In addition to departmental files, the Rice University Chemical Hygiene Officer shall maintain a complete file of all MSDS received by the University.

Departments shall ensure that laboratory employees are provided with information and training on the hazards of chemicals with which they may be working, both at the time of initial assignment and any time new hazards are brought in. Follow up reviews of information and training must also be provided. The chemical with the least toxicity and lowest degree of physical hazard that can accomplish the desired results should be selected for use.

Work with hazardous substances should not be undertaken unless the air in the laboratory or work area is continually replaced and any increase of air concentrations of toxic substances can be prevented. There must be direct air flow into the laboratory from non-laboratory areas and out to the exterior of the building. Further, chemicals known to be health hazards should be used only where hoods or other ventilation devices are available and can be used to protect employees from exposure to airborne substances.

Eye protection must be required for laboratory employees and for others in close proximity to where hazardous chemicals are being used.

Full face shields that protect the face and throat should be worn when maximum protection from flying particles and harmful substances is needed in the laboratory.

Evacuation procedures must always be in place and capable of being executed at all times, day or night.

Proper protective gloves (and other protective clothing, when necessary) should be worn whenever the potential for contact with corrosive or toxic materials and materials of unknown toxicity exists.

Employees should not wear unrestrained long hair or clothing that is loose or torn or otherwise unnecessarily exposes the skin while working with hazardous chemicals in the laboratory. If the possibility of hazardous chemical contamination exists, personal clothing that will be worn home should be covered by protective apparel while working in the laboratory.

Finger rings that may catch on laboratory apparatus should not be worn when working in the laboratory.

Shoes that cover the feet should be worn at all times in the laboratory.

For personal hygiene, no eating, drinking or smoking is permitted in the laboratory, no mouth pipetting is allowed and employees must wash hands before leaving the laboratory after handling any chemical.

Only hazardous chemicals to be used within a reasonable period of time may be kept in the laboratory; and all chemical should be checked for compatibility with other chemicals on hand in the same area.

Criteria for implementing specific control measures  

Responsible faculty members should continuously evaluate the hazardous chemical and operations in their research laboratories, noting the specific nature of hazards that need to be considered and formulate criteria that would invoke specific controls for specific operations.

In the event of fire, explosion, or other laboratory accident, assistance should be rendered to the persons involved and they should be removed from exposure to further injury. Personnel in adjacent areas should be warned of any potential hazards to their safety; it may be necessary to evacuate a portion or all of the building depending on the severity of the situation. Immediate first aid should be rendered; appropriate measures may include washing under a safety shower, administering oxygen, and artificial resuscitation if breathing has stopped. Special first aid measures may be required for particular chemicals and information concerning these should be maintained in the laboratory and made readily available to employees in the laboratory. Persons requiring medical attention should be taken or sent to appropriate medical facilities. (See specific information on "medical consultation and medical examinations", below). Small fires should be extinguished. Nearby apparatus should be turned off and combustible materials should be removed from the area. In case of larger fires, or the potential of rapid spreading of a small fire, the building fire alarm should be sounded and the Rice Campus Police (3333) should be notified. The campus police will then call the Houston Fire Department and escort fire trucks to the site of the fire. Further, the University Chemical Hygiene Officer should be notified immediately and the fire extinguishers used should be refilled.

Proper functioning of fume hoods  

Before each use, the face velocity of the hood shall be examined to ensure that there is an appropriate flow of air. Laboratory hoods must be inspected by a technically qualified person every three months, at least, to ensure proper functioning. Any hood discovered not to be operating properly, either during use or during periodic inspection, shall be closed down and labeled as such until all problems are corrected. Departments must maintain a maintenance history for each hood to ensure that these inspections are made and that necessary maintenance is carried out.

Information and training  

Each department shall provide employees with information and training to ensure that they have a working knowledge of the hazards of all chemicals that are or will be present in the laboratory in which they will be working or undergoing instruction. Such information shall be provided at the time of initial assignment to a research or teaching laboratory where hazardous chemicals are present and prior to assignments involving new exposure situations. The frequency of refresher information and training shall be determined by departments concerned but should be carried out at least every twelve months. Records of training and information sessions held, including the names of those attending, must be kept by each department. It is important in carrying out a department's information and training program that the special circumstances and needs of students be recognized.

Information provided shall include: the contents of reference "c" above and its appendices; the contents of this Chemical Hygiene Plan and departmental implementing plans and instructions, and the location and availability of up-to-date copies of these plans and instructions; the permissible exposure limits for OSHA-regulated substances or recommended exposure limits for other hazardous chemicals where there is no applicable OSHA standard; signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory; and the location and availability of known reference material on the hazards, safe handling, storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals found in the laboratory, including but not limited to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) received from the chemical supplier and procedures for the proper disposal of hazardous chemicals.

Employee training shall include: methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical, such as monitoring conducted by the department, continuous monitoring devices in the laboratory, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released and any other methods that may be devised or determined to be applicable; the physical and health hazards of the chemicals to be utilized in the laboratory, and the measures that persons in the laboratory can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures that the department has developed to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals. These specific measures should include departmental standard operating procedures, what to do in an emergency and personal protective equipment available and how to use it.

Prior approval requirements  

Faculty members directing laboratory research or teaching laboratories must continuously keep in mind the potential for high hazard activities in their laboratories and determine circumstances under which their prior approval must be obtained before certain procedures are commenced.

Medical consultation and medical examinations for employees  

Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which they may have been exposed in the laboratory, the employee shall be provided an opportunity to receive an appropriate medical examination. Where exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level or the PEL for an OSHA regulated substance for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements, medical surveillance shall be established for the affected employee as prescribed by the standard for the particular substance. Whenever a spill, leak, explosion or other occurrence takes place, resulting in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure, the affected employee, or employees, shall be provided an opportunity for a medical consultation for the purpose of determining the need for a medical examination.

In life-threatening cases or where the non-emergency procedures outlined below may not be appropriate and immediate attention is deemed to be advisable, employees should be rushed to the Emergency Room at St. Luke's Hospital. The Rice Campus Police (Extension 3333) should be called in such situations. They will procure an ambulance and escort the ambulance to where the injured are located. It is not necessary for someone in the laboratory or the department to place a 911 call. The Campus Police will make the call. In situations considered to be non-emergency, an employee working in the laboratory who develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which he or she may have been exposed should be requested to go to the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Doctor's Center, 7000 Fannin, Suite 1770, Houston, TX 77030, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Phone 791-8739.

All medical examinations and consultations shall be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and shall be provided without cost to the employee, without loss of pay and at a reasonable time and place.

The following information shall be provided to the physician: identity of the hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed; a description of the conditions under which the exposure occurred; and a description of the signs and symptoms of exposure that the employee is experiencing. A written opinion shall be obtained from the examining physician which shall include the following: any recommendation for further medical follow-up; the results of the medical examination and any associated tests; any medical condition which may be revealed in the course of the examination which may place the employee at increased risk as a result of exposure to a hazardous chemical found in the laboratory; and a statement that the employee has been informed by the physician of the results of the consultation or medical examination and any medical condition that may require further examination or treatment. The written opinion shall not reveal specific findings of diagnoses unrelated to occupational exposure.

Medical consultation and medical examinations for students  

In a non-emergency situation, a student who is not an employee and who develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which they may have been exposed in the laboratory should be requested to go to the Student Health Service at Hanszen College, Extension 4966 or 2326. In life-threatening cases or where the above procedures may not be appropriate and immediate attention is deemed to be advisable, students involved should be rushed to the Emergency Room at Park Plaza Hospital. The Rice Campus Police (3333) will procure an ambulance and escort the ambulance to the site of the injury.

Chemical Hygiene Officer Designation  

The Rice University Safety Officer will also serve as the University Chemical Hygiene Officer and can be reached at Extension 3800.

Additional protection provisions for work with particularly hazardous substances  

There are three classes of compounds that must receive special consideration, each defined by somewhat different criteria. (1) Select Carcinogens, defined as any substance that meets one of the following criteria: the chemicals that OSHA has specifically designated as carcinogens and written standards for (list attached); all chemicals included in the "Annual Report on Carcinogens" published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) as "known to be carcinogens" (list attached); chemicals listed under group I ("carcinogenic to humans") by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs (IARC) (see attached); or substances listed in either Group 2A or 2B by IARC or under the category "reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens" by NTP (lists attached). (2) Reproductive toxins, defined by OSHA as substances which affect the reproductive capabilities, including chromosomal damage (mutations) and effects on fetuses (teratogenesis); the MSDS for a substance in this category should provide awareness of this potential hazard. (3) Substances having a high degree of acute toxicity (definition included in attachment). All of these substances fall into a single category in the standard: particularly hazardous substances. For any such chemical, when it is used in a laboratory, the faculty member in charge must make provisions for additional protection.

Supervision and enforcement.  

The designated Chemical Hygiene Officer (University Safety Officer) will carry out such visits and inspections, unannounced and announced, as are deemed to be necessary and appropriate to ensure that the provisions of reference "c" and this Chemical Hygiene Plan are being complied with. The University Safety Officer shall investigate thoroughly all laboratory incidents where overexposure to hazardous chemicals may have occurred and/or where personal injury and/or property damage has occurred. Reports of such visits and inspections will be submitted in a timely fashion to the department chairs, divisional deans and university administrative officers concerned as well as directly to the President.

Record Keeping.  

The University Chemical Hygiene Officer shall as a minimum maintain written records as follows:

All visits to laboratories and inspections for the purpose of overseeing enforcement of this Chemical Hygiene Plan.

Reports of all laboratory incidents involving hazardous chemicals where personal injury and/or property damage has occurred. (Written reports of such laboratory incidents involving employee injury must be maintained for a minimum of thirty (30) years.)

A copy of all Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) received by the university from chemical suppliers.

Policy No. 833-91