San Diego Mesa College

Chemical Hygiene


Foundations of Chemical Hygiene

Hygiene is defined as conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease.  Therefore Chemical Hygiene relates to the maintaining of health and the prevention of disease by establishing practices and polices within a "laboratory" environment that will minimize employee and student exposure to harmful chemicals.

The foundations for proper chemical hygiene are established in CAL-OSHA Title 8, section 5191, "Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories

This regulation mandates that a written plan be developed to protect employees from health hazards of hazardous chemicals.  This Plan is required for areas that are engaged it the laboratory use of hazardous chemicals on a "laboratory scale".

So how do I know if I am to follow the policies set forth in the written Chemical Hygiene Plan?  Lets look at some of the definitions of the 5191 regulation:

  • Laboratory- "A facility where the 'laboratory use of hazardous chemicals' occurs.  It is a workplace where relatively small quantity of hazardous chemicals are used on a non-production basis."
  • Laboratory use of hazardous chemicals- “Handling or use of chemicals in which all of the following are met:
  1. Chemical manipulations are carried out on a ‘laboratory scale’;
  2. Multiple chemical procedures or chemicals are used;
  3. The procedures involved are not part of a production process, nor in any way simulate; and
  4. ‘Protective laboratory practices and equipment’ are available and in common use industry-wide to minimize the potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals.”
  • Laboratory scale-“Work with substances in which the containers used for reaction, transfers, and other handling of substances are designed to be easily and safety manipulated by one person. ‘Laboratory scale’ excludes those workplaces whose function is to produce commercial quantities of material.”


THE BOTTOM LINE:  If you are in a work area that requires individuals to uses multiple small quantities of hazardous chemicals or procedures, and have programs, policies, or equipment in place to minimize chemical exposure, you MUST follow the policies within the Chemical Hygiene Plan!

Chemical Hygiene Plan

The Chemical Hygiene Plan contains details about; standard operating procedures (chemical storage, disposal, container labeling, accident procedures), Control measures (engineering, PPE, hygiene practices), hoods and protective equipment, training, special precautions.

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