High Hazard Chemicals

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in conjunction with the Laboratory Safety Committees, have identified certain chemicals as high hazard chemicals.  A chemical is considered “high hazard” if it has any health, physical or environmental hazards that require additional safety and/or environmental practices beyond those of a typical laboratory setting, as required by existing regulations or upon review of the hazards by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), relevant oversight committees, or other institutional entity.  The high hazard chemical program is two-tiered, based on a risk-based site assessment visit.

Site Assessment Visit

Laboratories that use high hazard chemicals are identified during periodic reviews of the chemical inventories on RIMS, during committee reviews of research, or during EHS’s Quarterly Research Safety Inspections.  When a laboratory is identified as using a high hazard chemical, Environmental Health and Safety performs a risk-based analysis of the procedure involving the high hazard chemical, called a High Hazard Chemical Use Authorization Site Assessment Visit, or “Site Assessment”.  During the site assessment, an EHS representative reviews the high hazard chemical use with the researchers, and determines how the program will be applied to that laboratory.

Chemical Information Sheets (CIS)

The majority of chemicals in the high hazard program have standard safety requirements that are universal regardless of the application of the chemical.  Municipal, state and federal regulations, industry best practices, and BU-specific procedures are outlined in Chemical Information Sheets (CISs).  CISs provide specific information on the hazardous properties of the chemicals, the training and administrative requirements to work with the chemical, information about locations where the chemical may be used or stored, the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to use when working with the chemical, the steps to take to dispose of the chemical, and procedures to follow in the event of an emergency involving the chemical.  CISs are specific to a high hazard chemical or a group of high hazard chemicals, and provide more detailed information than the typical Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).  CISs are written by EHS with review and technical assistance provided by the Laboratory Safety Committees and researchers working with the high hazard chemicals.

Laboratory- and Procedure-Specific SOPs

During the Site Assessment, EHS may identify an application that has a higher risk and therefore has additional safety requirements beyond what is spelled out in the CIS.  In that case, EHS will assist the researchers in writing a laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedure for that particular process involving high hazard chemicals.  Templates are available for standard procedures and for procedures involving animals.

If you have any questions regarding the High Hazard Chemical Program, contact your departmental safety advisor or Environmental Health and Safety.