Safety Policies

SY43 Laboratory and Research Safety Plan

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Diann Stedman, 814-865-6547,

Policy Steward: 

Director of Environmental Health and Safety



To establish a policy for the management of laboratory and research hazards at all locations of The Pennsylvania State University (except the Hershey Medical Center and the College of Medicine.) The University Chemical Hygiene Program is administered by Environmental Health and Safety through the Laboratory and Research Safety Plan (LRSP). 


Occupational Health and Safety Administration 29 CFR 1910:

Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories Standard 1910.1450

Hazard Communication Standard  1910.1200

Personal Protective Equipment Standard  1910.132

Eye and Face Protection Standard  1910.133

Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030

Respiratory Protection Standard 1910.133

Control of Hazardous Energy Standard 1910.147

Air contaminants Standard 1910.1000

Occupational Noise Exposure Standard 1910.95

Ethylene Oxide Standard 1910.1047

Formaldehyde Standard 1910.1048

Medical and First Aid Standard 1910.151

Machinery and Machine Guarding 1910 Subpart O


This program applies to employees, visitors, and students at all locations of the Pennsylvania State University, (except for the Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine.)


Laboratory- A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed.

Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)- PELs are regulatory limits based on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air. They may also contain a skin designation. OSHA PELs are based on an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) exposure.

Action Level- Action level means a concentration designated in 29 CFR Part 1910 for a specific substance, calculated as an eight (8)-hour time-weighted average, which initiates certain required activities such as exposure monitoring and medical surveillance.


University departments/work units operating laboratories and research areas are required to ensure that each lab/research area has:

  1. Appointed a Laboratory/Research Safety Officer (LRSO) to implement the University’s Laboratory and Research Safety Plan,
  2. Implemented the LRSP, including adoption of general departmental precautions and guidelines for safe use of chemicals, and
  3. Instructed laboratory/research personnel, including employees, visitors, and students on proper safety procedures. Documentation of this training must be maintained in the LRSP.

Laboratory and Research Safety Plan(LRSP)

The University has developed a LRSP to promote the safety of employees, students and visitors working in laboratories and research areas.  The plan provides guidelines for prudent practices and procedures for the safe management of chemicals and other hazards possible in the laboratory/research setting, and for work practices regarding equipment and personal protective equipment that are capable of protecting individuals from potential health hazards.  The Plan was written in accordance with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories (the OSHA Lab Standard).

Laboratory/Research Safety Officer (LRSO)

Each laboratory/research Principle Investigator/Supervisor shall either act as, or assign, an individual in his/her laboratory/research area the responsibility for overseeing safety within his/her area. In areas where chemicals are used, this person also serves as the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

The LRSO is responsible for implementing the LRSP in his/her respective laboratory.  The LRSO is also responsible for instructing personnel on proper laboratory procedures, including, but not limited to, properly labeling all chemicals, ensuring access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all laboratory/research chemicals, specifying personal protective equipment, conducting regular safety inspections, and managing hazardous waste disposal in accordance with the University’s hazardous waste policy, Hazardous Waste Disposal, SY20.

The LRSO is also responsible for ensuring that employees, visitors and students are not exposed to chemicals beyond the permissible exposure limits (PEL) provided for each potentially hazardous substance by OSHA.  Some extremely hazardous substances (provided in 29 CFR Part 1910) require monitoring and medical surveillance if exposure exceeds the provided Action Level (see "Definitions").  By keeping chemical exposures below the specified PEL and Action Levels, laboratory workers can prevent adverse effects of hazardous substances in their work areas.

Medical Attention for Chemical Exposure

The University will provide all employees working with hazardous chemicals an opportunity to receive medical attention if they exhibit symptoms of exposure to a hazardous chemical in the laboratory or experience a spill, leak, or other occurrence resulting in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure.


Budget Executives and Budget Administrators

  • Ensure that responsibilities assigned within the LRSP are carried out within their administrative work unit.
  • Monitor implementation of this policy within their work unit.

Environmental Health & Safety Office

  • Develop LRSP, including appropriate chemical hygiene policies and practices.
  • Provide resources and assist work units in implementing the LRSP.
  • Develop and provides related training materials.
  • Provide training.
  • Audit compliance in laboratories.
  • Periodically review and update the LRSP, as needed.

College/Campus Safety Officers

  • Coordinate implementation of the LRSP within the work unit.
  • Ensure required training is provided to employees, visitors, and students within the work unit.
  • Assist in the investigation of all injuries and incidents related to laboratories and research.

Principle Investigator/Supervisors

  • Are thoroughly informed of the contents of the LRSP and how it applies to their areas of responsibility and authority.
  • Work with all members of their lab or research group to complete the LRSP addressing all laboratory hazards.
  • Ensure Standard Operating Procedures are developed for hazardous chemicals/operations not covered in the LRSP.
  • Either act as or assign an individual in his/her laboratory the responsibility for overseeing safety within the laboratory. This person serves as the Laboratory/Research Safety Officer. 
  • Ensure employees, visitors, and students receive general Laboratory Safety training provided by EHS.
  • Ensure employees, visitors and students receive unit specific training on hazards not covered by general EHS safety training.
  • Ensure employees, visitors, and students read, comply and complete LRSP certification.
  • Investigate all injuries and incidents related to laboratories and research areas.
  • Notify employees, visitors, or students of hazardous chemical monitoring results, if any.
  • Inspect labs for safety compliance
  • Enforce use of engineering controls, safe work practices, and required personal protective equipment.
  • Make sure that hoods, exhaust fans and other safety equipment are functioning properly.
  • Maintain an adequate supply of personal protective equipment in the laboratory and correct misuse that would diminish effectiveness of the equipment.
  • Answer employee’s questions and concerns.
  • Forward unresolved questions and concerns to EHS for response.
  • Provide training and information on the LRSP including the Unit Specific Plan to all affected employees, visitors, and students. 
  • Review and update Unit Specific Plan annually.  Complete certification.
  • Make sure employees, visitors, or students who develop signs or symptoms associated with hazardous chemical exposure are given an opportunity to receive medical attention. Make available to employees permissible exposure limits for hazardous chemicals, information on signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals used, and Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals used. EHS is available to provide guidance.

Laboratory/Research Safety Officer

  • Monitor procurement, use, and disposal of chemicals used in the lab.
  • Ensure that appropriate self-inspections are maintained.
  • Provide input to PI’s/Supervisors on developing precautions and adequate facilities.
  • Know the current legal requirements concerning regulated substances, as provided through EHS resources.
  • Seek ways to improve the chemical hygiene program.

Employees, Visitors and Students

  • Receive general Laboratory Safety training provided by EHS and specific training provided by lab personnel.
  • Comply with all provisions of the LRSP Plan and conduct each operation in accordance with the LRSP procedures, including use of PPE and engineering controls, as appropriate.  Complete LRSP certification.
  • Develop good personal chemical hygiene habits.
  • Report to supervisor all accidents and potential chemical exposures immediately.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Director of Environmental Health and Safety.


Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

SY01 - Environmental Health and Safety Policy

SY04 - Employee Accidents - Reporting and Investigation

SY08 - Storage, Dispensing and Use of Flammable Liquids Policy

SY14 - Use of Radioactive Materials

SY15 – Radiation Producing Instruments

SY17 - Lasers

SY20 - Hazardous Waste Disposal

SY24 - Use of Biohazardous Materials in Research and Instruction

SY25 – Compressed Gas Cylinders

SY29 – Infectious Waste Disposal

SY34 – Hazardous Materials Shipping

SY39 – Hazardous Chemical Inventory Management

SY40 – Disposal of Pollutants in University Sanitary Systems

Most Recent Changes:

  • January 13, 2023 - Editorial change to Policy Steward.
  • August 18, 2022 - Changed Subject Matter Expert.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • November 1, 2021 - Editorial changes. Updates to the appropriate links in the POLICY and RESPONSIBILITIES section to reflect revisions to the EHS website.

  • November 18, 2016 - Editorial changes. Updates to the appropriate links in the POLICY and RESPONSIBILITIES sections to reflect revisions to the EHS website.

  • June 19, 2014 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
  • April 3, 2013 - New policy.

Date Approved: 

November 1, 2021

Date Published: 

November 1, 2021

Effective Date: 

November 1, 2021