Chemical Hazard Control Plan

Chemical Hazard Control Program


This program outlines the minimum set of guidelines for the safe laboratory use of hazardous chemicals at WMU to prevent overexposures. This program does not cover the laboratory use of radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, or bloodborne pathogens.  The guidelines contain sections on common practices, handling, and storage, engineering controls (fume hoods), administrative controls, and personal protective equipment and hygiene. This subprogram does not supersede the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) standards entitled “Personal Protective Equipment” and “Respiratory Protection” but compliments those standards as they pertain to laboratory use of hazardous chemicals. WMU's Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Program and the Respirator Program can be found on WMU’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) – Programs and Plans website.


This program applies to Western Michigan University employees who perform or supervise activities in laboratories.


Fail-Safe: An experiment that is being monitored by a device to shut down the experiment if, for instance, a loss in water pressure or electricity to the experiment could cause a fire, explosion, or release of a highly toxic gas.


A. Common Practices

1. Respect and understand the safety and health hazards associated with the chemicals and equipment in your laboratory.

2. Ensure that unattended experiments are fail-safe.

3. Refrain from pranks, practical jokes, or unprofessional behavior.

4. Use proper equipment that is in good condition. For example, never use chipped or cracked glassware.

5. Shield pressurized or vacuum apparatus and safeguard against bumping or overheating.

6. Guard all equipment with belt and pulley drives, gears, or shaft couplings.

7. Assume that chemicals that do not have information available on safety and health hazards or are of unknown composition are highly toxic. Refer to the Highly Hazardous Chemicals Program.

8. Only heat perchloric acid above ambient temperatures in a fume hood designed to prevent explosion in the case explosive perchlorates form.

9. Wash hands prior to eating, smoking, or sticking part of the hand or a writing tool into the mouth.

10. Prohibit children and unauthorized individuals from entering laboratories.

B. Chemical Handling and Storage:

1. Store chemicals by compatibility, not by alphabetical arrangement.  Oxidizers should be separated from organics, air/water reactants must be kept dry and cyanides should be stored away from acids. Refer to safety data sheets for incompatible storage.

2. Store large containers on lower shelves.

3. Store volatile toxic substances in ventilated storage cabinets adequate for the purpose, or in hoods when storage cabinets are unavailable.

4. Use explosion-proof refrigerators/freezers or designated cold rooms when volatiles must be stored in a cooled atmosphere.

5. Date containers of peroxidizable, unstable, shock-sensitive chemicals with the date received and the date opened. See Appendix A for reactive chemicals.

6. Use bottle carriers or carts for transporting chemicals that are in glass containers.

7. Close caps securely and avoid storing chemical containers in hard-to-reach areas.

8. Pour chemicals carefully and never add water to concentrated acid.

9. Ground and bond all-metal containers and those non-conductive containers (e.g., glass or plastic) holding more than five gallons when transferring flammable liquids.

10. Do not place flammable substances within a drying oven.

11. Cylinder storage

    a. Store cylinders in well-ventilated areas with their protective caps screwed on.

    b. Secure (e.g., strap or chain) the cylinder to reduce the chance of the cylinder being knocked over.

    c. Individually secure cylinders with regulators. Only cylinders with valve protection caps securely in place may be safely chained in groups.

    d. Store cylinders away from heat or high traffic areas.

    e. Separate cylinders of flammables and oxidizers.

    f. Store empty and full cylinders separately. Storage of large quantities of cylinders must be done in an approved gas cylinder storage area.

    g. Use appropriate handcarts to move cylinders. Cylinders must be secured to the cart during transport and the valve cap secured.

    h. Highly toxic gases should not be moved through the corridors, particularly during business hours.

    i. Always consider cylinders as full and handle them with corresponding care.

12. Labels, as received from the supplier, shall remain undefaced on the container.

13. Label all products from experimental reactions with the date and identify laboratory notebook numbers.

14. Check the integrity of containers. Observe compatibilities, for example, hydrofluoric acid must not be stored in glass and some oxidizers should not be stored in plastic containers.

C. Engineering Controls:

1. To avoid significant inhalation exposures, controls such as substituting a less volatile or a less toxic chemical or substituting a liquid or solid chemical for a gaseous one are the best means of control.

2. If a substitution is not practical, use well-functioning local exhaust ventilation such as a fume hood.

3. For extremely toxic chemicals such as those classified as poison gases by the state or federal agencies (e.g., arsine, phosgene) the use of closed systems, vented gas cabinets, fail-safe scrubbing, detection, or other stricter controls may be required.

4. Chemical handling in a fume hood:

    a. A fume hood is not designed for the storage of chemicals or mechanical devices. Storage diminishes the hood's ability to entrain contaminants.

        i. Restrict uses of a hood used for chemical storage to activities compatible with the quantities and properties of the stored chemicals, and the reduced airflow capabilities.

        ii. Do not handle toxic chemicals in a hood packed with equipment or chemicals.

        iii. Minimize movements in front of the hood as the body causes air turbulence that could carry contaminants out and into the breathing zone.

        iv. Call EHS for waste disposal information. Do not dispose of waste by evaporation in a fume hood.

5. Perform chemical handling beyond the front six (6) inches of the fume hood to minimize contaminants escaping into the room.

6. Keep the sash of the hood as low as possible to increase the inward velocity of the air at the opening of the hood.

7. Call Maintenance Services and close the sash when the low flow alarm sounds or no flow is observed on a manometer.

D. Administrative Controls:

1. Minimize exposure time for individual employees.

2. Restrict access to areas where a hazardous chemical is used.

3. Ensure there is proper signage on lab doors to indicate special hazards within, a list of lab supervisors and occupants of the lab who should be contacted in the event of an emergency.

4. Forbid eating, drinking, chewing gum, and the application of cosmetics in areas where hazardous chemicals are.

5. Do not store food in the same refrigerator with chemicals, biohazards, or radioactive materials.

6. Prohibit mouth pipetting.

E. Personal Protective Equipment and Hygiene

1. Wear a lab coat or apron, cover feet (no sandals or open-toed shoes), and confine loose clothing and long hair.

2. Wear clothing that fully covers the legs and torso above the knees.

3. Gloves are essential when working with hazardous substances. All glove materials are not equally effective in protecting from chemical hazards.  Consult a chemical resistance chart or contact EHS for assistance in making an appropriate glove selection.

4. Personnel, including students, staff, and visitors in laboratories, must wear safety glasses, goggles, or face shields at all times. Goggles and a face shield are recommended when chemical splashes are possible.

5. Face shields, which cover the neck and ear areas, and goggles or safety glasses should be worn when conducting a procedure that may result in a violent reaction.

6. For eye contact with chemicals promptly flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. Then seek medical attention.

7. For skin contact with chemicals promptly flush the affected area and remove contaminated clothing. If symptoms persist after washing, seek medical attention.

8. When inserting glass tubing into stoppers, lubricate tubing and protect hands from being cut in the event of the tubing slipping and breaking.

9. Hands should be washed frequently throughout the day: before leaving the lab, after contact with any hazardous material, and before eating or smoking.

F. Waste Disposal

1. Dispose of all glass in disposal containers provided for glass after rinsing.

2. Dispose of all liquid and solid chemical wastes in appropriately labeled containers approved by EHS or provided by EHS.

3. Dispose of sharps in sharps containers.

4. Contact EHS for questions on chemical compatibility in disposal containers.


A. Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS):

1. Pick up and arrange for disposal of all hazardous chemicals. To request disposal containers or for pick up of waste chemicals, call (269) 387-5593 (Keith Pung).

2. Respond and clean up chemical spills beyond the capabilities of the laboratory workers.

3. Provide training and fit testing prior to any laboratory worker acquiring or wearing a respirator as required by the MIOSHA Respiratory Protection Standard. Medical clearance would also be required from a physician at the Sindecuse Health Center.

4. Survey fume hoods annually.

5. Provide technical assistance concerning personal protective equipment and compliance with the MIOSHA Personal Protective Equipment standard.

6. Provide technical assistance to Deans, Directors, laboratory supervisors, and workers concerning appropriate storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous chemicals.

B. Deans and Directors:

1. Ensure funding is available for required personal protective equipment (PPE), laboratory safety equipment, and respirator physicals.

2. Ensure that laboratories under their jurisdiction comply with the requirements of both the MIOSHA Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection standards.

C. Laboratory Supervisors:

1. Contact EHS for any procedure that requires the laboratory worker to wear some type of respiratory equipment.

2. Ensure the availability and enforce the use of appropriate PPE.

3. Remain cognizant of the chemicals stored and used in labs and their associated hazards.

4. Conduct internal inspections of labs for health and safety concerns.

5. Ensure that labels on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals are not removed or defaced.

6. Consult with EHS when any work entails heating perchloric acid above ambient temperatures.

D. Laboratory Workers:

1. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

2. Adhere to the guidelines outlined in this subprogram.

3. Remain aware of the hazards of the chemicals in the lab and how to handle hazardous chemicals safely.


Appendix A

References for reactive materials:

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety: Dangerously Reactive Liquids and Solids and their Hazards.

United States Department of Labor: Chemical Reactivity Hazards.

The Chemical Reactivity Worksheet is a free program you can use to find out about the reactivity of substances or mixtures of substances provided by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). The program is a database of reactivity information for more than 6,000 common hazardous chemicals.

CAMEO Chemicals also has a database of hazardous materials that is updated by the Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and

Bretherick's Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards. This thorough reference provides information on the stability of compounds and their reactivity in mixtures under a variety of conditions

Safety Data Sheets:

NIOSH pocket guide to chemical hazards

International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC)

Revised 4/19/2018