Lab Hazard Assessment
In order to determine the appropriate PPE required for protection of laboratory personnel, a hazard assessment must be completed and documented for each lab. Due to the complexity of hazards associated with lab work, a Lab Hazard Assessment Guide has been created to assist principal investigators and lab supervisors in identifying hazards and appropriate PPE for their labs.
Hazard Control Pyramid
Controlling exposures to hazards is fundamental in protecting lab personnel. Personal protective equipment should only be considered as the last line of defense in laboratory protection. A traditional hierarchy of protection is shown in the hazard control pyramid below. The most effective way to protect lab personnel from a hazard is to eliminate it altogether and substitute an alternative into the process. Obviously this is not always feasible. When hazards cannot be eliminated we turn to engineering controls such as fume hoods to protect personnel from various hazards. There is always a chance that engineering protections may fail, so we supplement them with administrative controls, such as standard operating procedures, and personal protective equipment to provide personnel with another level of protection.
Safety in the lab is everyone's responsibility. Lab personnel are responsible for understanding the information in the lab hazard assessment and wearing the appropriate PPE. Lab supervisors and PI's are responsible for ensuring the hazard assessment is accurately completed, up to date, and personnel are trained on the assessment. Departments are responsible for ensuring PPE is available to employees and is being used appropriately. For a more detailed breakdown of safety responsibilities review your lab's chemical hygiene plan.
WAC 296-800-160 requires that a hazard assessment be conducted and documented for all workspaces. Appropriate PPE must be selected based on this assessment and made available to employees wherever hazards exist. Employees must be trained in the proper use of the appropriate PPE, and equipment must be maintained in good condition. For more detailed information on the selection of PPE the PPE Program Description.
For questions concerning PPE or conducting a hazard assessment please contact your department safety coordinator or EHS.