Laboratory Safety

Chemicals

How to Recognize Hazards

There are many resources available to find out how dangerous a material is and what protection is needed.

  • A safety data sheet, or SDS (formerly called MSDS), is a document, provided by a chemical manufacturer, which contains information about material components, hazards, and emergency response. Manufacturers usually post SDS’s on their web sites.
  • The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), is a universal approach to defining chemical hazards, criteria to compare these hazards, and hazard communication. Hazardous chemical labels and SDSs will present information in alignment with the GHS.
  • Technical data sheets provided by manufacturers are also a good source of guidance.

How to Minimize Hazards

Segregate chemicals by hazard class when storing, moving, and disposing. Perform a hazard assessment and write a Standard Operating Procedure for hazardous chemicals and processes. Assess the need for and wear appropriate personal protective equipment but remember that PPE is only one part of working safely with chemicals.

Keep a current inventory. Never dispose of any chemical in the trash or down the drain. This includes chemicals that are mixed with biomedical waste. To schedule a pickup of your hazardous waste chemicals, use HITS.

Emergency Response

Prepare a plan for emergency management. Call 911 if there is an emergency. Flush exposed skin with water for 15 minutes. Never proceed to clean up a spill if you do not know the hazards associated with the chemical or if you are unsure of how to clean up the spill. Contact EH&S for spill assistance at 813-974-4036. Report all incidents to EH&S within 24 hours.