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1. What are the federal standards that govern biological and chemical hazards in a clinical lab? The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) was created specifically for non-production laboratories. Additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards as well as biological, physical and safety hazards. What are the required personal protective equipment measures that must be available and used by employees? Employers must provide PPE for employees in a variety of situations, including (but not limited to): Hardhats and earplugs for construction workers. Respirators and facial coverings for healthcare professionals with potential exposure to COVID-19. Safety goggles for employees who work with lasers or other eye hazards. (2) This section applies to any chemical which is known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency. Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which the employee may have been exposed in the laboratory, the employee shall be provided an opportunity to receive an appropriate medical examination. 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(1) requires that universal precautions be observed to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. This would include the handling of PPE that has become contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) in medical and/or dental facilities. Chemical Hygiene Plan means a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that (i) are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace and (ii) meets the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section.

2. There are many specific OSHA standards that apply to laboratories as well as other OSHA standards that apply to many aspects of laboratory activities. The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard was created for non production laboratories. Additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards as well as biological, physical and safety hazards. For hazards that are not covered by a specific OSHA standard, OSHA often has guidance on protecting workers from these hazards.

Personal protective equipment are equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses can result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment can include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

Two laws that have had the most impact on laboratories are OSHA’s Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, and RCRA, under which EPA regulates chemical hazardous waste. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the public law that creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave EPA authority to develop the RCRA program.

Lab safety is the responsibility of the employer and their employees. Rules must be laid down and policies have to be implemented to protect employees. But it is the employees’ responsibility to follow the rules and policies.

  
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