Laboratory Health and Safety

Laboratory Health and Safety

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

CS-115-01 Advancing Safety Culture Academic Research Laboratories: Next Steps

L. Gibbs, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Situation/Problem: Many academic research organizations are attempting to evaluate their respective safety cultures. How does one evaluate the safety cultu​​re within a laboratory research organization? What is the starting baseline? What are critical variables? What tools can be developed to help advance the safety culture in an academic research workplace? These are many of the questions currently being pondered throughout higher education.

Resolution: The basis of most organizations is they have cultural norms that have been established over time and at some point change is desired to advance on a scale of expected improvement. Stanford University undertook an extensive self-evaluation of its laboratory safety culture in 2013-2014, resulting in identification of a number of areas where improvements in laboratory safety culture could be made. A series of recommendations were made by this Laboratory Safety Culture Task Force. 

Results: This presentation will present results of a case study that identified critical variables related to laboratory safety cultures and values, and describes a program to advance a culture for the conduct of safe science at Stanford. Data from surveys developed as part of the evaluation as well as from ethnographic interviews and process inputs will be presented. Outcomes to date will be provided as well as the efficacy of various outreach and support approaches. Described will be the review process, baseline safety culture evaluation, results to date on next steps in the advancement of laboratory safety culture, and musings regarding future directions for the program.

Lessons Learned: Safety culture requires constant management, monitoring and nurturing to assure advancement of a robust safety culture. The organizational uniqueness of academic research universities creates significant and differing challenges from more hierarchical organizations. Critical to initiating sustainable safety culture advancement is a good understanding of the cultural and organizational variables to influence a strong, positive laboratory safety culture.

CS-115-02 Implementing GHS in Labs

A. Mims, C. Davis, Eli Lilly & Company, Indianapolis, IN

Situation/Problem: The challenge is how to interpret the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for labelling and classifying chemicals in laboratories regulated under the OSHA’s Lab Standard. The OSHA lab standard requires additional worker protections for work with Particularly Hazardous Substances (PHS). These include select carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and substances which have a high degree of acute toxicity. This case study provides an example of GHS implementation at a global company where U.S. regulation is in the implementation stage, while the European Union and other nations have already adopted similar rules.

Resolution: Teams of HSE professionals in partnership with lab employees have worked together to create a toolkit of information describing the process to identify PHS materials, rules for handling in the laboratory, and timelines for implementation.

Results: Updated information accessible from the GHS toolkit includes: GHS Compliant Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP); Job Aids for identifying PHS materials using GHS; Train the Trainer PowerPoint for key aspects of GHS; GHS Compliant Lab Training; GHS Compliant Generic Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for research compounds; Labels and commonly used lab items compliant with GHS; Lab Posters, and - Employee challenge test for identifying GHS pictograms

Lessons Learned: Although GHS is regulated under OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard, there are also implications to the OSHA Laboratory Standard. Utilizing multidisciplinary teams to identify challenges and solutions is an efficient method to approach the issue and drive resolution. Though this effort is in implementation stages, early feedback suggests that a simple approach can be effective.

SR-115-03 Evaluating Staff Recognition of Chemical Hazards in the Laboratory Environment

T. Barton, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

Objective: In order to assess risk effectively, staff must first be able to recognize hazards. This study was performed to assess laboratory management’s proficiency at identifying the chemical hazards to which workers were exposed in their labs.

Methods: Annually, researcher staff from approximately 150 research laboratories self-declare the hazards to which their employees are exposed using an institutional database known as the Work Hazard Assessment Tool (WHAT - modeled on the LHAT system used by the University of California). These declarations provide the researcher with an outline of the training, controls, and administrative tasks to be performed by lab staff. In the Chemical Safety section of the WHAT, each PI or lab manager must declare the chemical hazards present in the lab. This references hazard categories such as work with flammable liquids, formaldehyde solutions, water-reactive compounds, pyrophoric compounds, etc. Laboratories are also required to maintain an inventory of chemicals handled in their labs using Chemtracker software. I evaluated the researcher’s proficiency at identifying chemical hazards by cross referencing their WHAT declaration with their inventory of hazardous chemicals. This was done by searching each lab’s inventory for specific chemicals or by sorting by hazard class. Hazard class determinations made by Chemtracker were verified against MSDS hazard declarations and laboratory interviews to ensure that chemical hazard class designations and laboratory chemical applications were appropriate for the purposes of this evaluation.

Results: More than 40% of the research labs included in this study failed to declare at least one category of chemical hazard. Work with water-reactive chemicals and handling formaldehyde solutions were the most commonly over-looked chemical hazards. This suggests that lab managers may be overlooking regulatory requirements and may not be providing staff members with adequate chemical training and storage requirement information.

Conclusions: The professional experience of laboratory research management is not necessarily sufficient to ensure that effective hazard communication is provided to laboratory research technicians and other staff members. Deficiencies in hazard awareness may lead to incorrect assumptions about laboratory risks and inadequate measures intended to mitigate these risks.

CS-115-04 Reducing Researcher Exposures to Isoflurane during Animal Surgery

E. Mellas-Hulett, J. Labossiere, T. Buttolph, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Situation/Problem: Researchers performing surgery on animals are potentially exposed to waste anesthetic gases (WAG). The only U.S. OEL is the NIOSH REL of 2 ppm, which was established in 1977 for all WAG. Isoflurane was introduced into use in 1980 and was not included in the research for establishing the threshold. Established international OELs include: United Kingdom at 50 ppm, Sweden at 10 ppm (20 ppm STEL), and Ontario, Canada at 2 ppm. Prior to implementation of controls, exposure levels as high as 52 ppm have been found in labs performing surgery on small animals. Significant exposures have been observed at various steps in the surgery, with peak exposures ranging from 30 to 47 ppm. Different surgery suite set-ups and differing surgery procedures have complicated a universal solution. With a decrease in research funding, money to upgrade localized ventilation or purchase of control measures is limited. A low-cost scavenging system was needed to assist labs in reducing exposures to WAG.

Resolution: Risk was assessed for each step of the surgery process: filling the anesthetic gas vaporizer, induction of the animal, surgery procedure including scavenging or removal of WAG, and post-surgery. Potential exposure was measured using passive badges sampling at the breathing zone and the MIRAN SapphIRe Portable Vapor Analyzer sampling both at the breathing zone and area samples for various steps in the process.

Results: Low-cost changes to the surgery apparatus, such as providing a seal to the induction chamber, and changes in work practices, such as filling vaporizers in a fume hood, have reduced exposures to WAG. When financially able, localized ventilation (e.g. snorkels) is the best method to reduce WAG. Scavenging units with activated charcoal filters have also shown to lower exposures. A researcher-designed scavenging unit cost less than $200, which is more affordable than manufactured units at $1200-$4000. With control measures in place, exposures decreased to 0.22 to 2.6 ppm.

Lessons Learned: Localized ventilation or low-cost scavenging units provide the greatest protection to researchers from WAG during small animal surgery.

CS-115-05 ​Case Study: The OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center Chemical Hygiene Plan

D. Anderson, OSHA/Salt Lake Technical Center, Sandy, UT

Situation/Problem: Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) provides a multi-disciplinary team approach in support of OSHA’s complex and highly visible investigations. Its mission is to provide technical leadership, expertise and services in the evaluation and control of workplace hazards. The laboratory is accredited by the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs (AIHA-LAP) and analyzes over 400 analytes with an inventory of over 4500 chemicals.

Resolution: The risk of laboratory injuries can be reduced through adequate training, improved engineering, good housekeeping, safe work practice and personal behavior as required by the Laboratory Standard 29 CFR 1910.1450. Where hazardous chemicals, as defined by the Laboratory Standard, are used in the workplace, policies and procedures have been developed that protect employees from unacceptable exposure and keep OSHA regulated substance exposures below the limits specified in the permissible exposure limits (PEL) table listed in 29 CFR 1910, subpart Z. The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and associated documents state the policies, procedures, and responsibilities used to protect employees.

Results: This case study will look at the evolution of the OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center Chemical Hygiene Plan from over 150 pages that had to be manually updated annually to an umbrella document of 26 pages which serves as the gateway for training and accessing laboratory safety and health policies, standard operating procedures, work instructions, and other supporting documents.

Lessons Learned: SLTC employees now utilize the CHP to drill down and access safety and health polices, standard operating procedures, and job hazard analyses. Additionally, new documents are easily linked to the CHP as they are developed or updated without major rewrites of the entire document.

CS-115-06 EHS Issues of Digital Fabrication

D. Herrick, P. Greenley, J. Doughty, W. Mbah, MIT, Cambridge, MAA. Kalil, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA

Situation/Problem: 3D printers, laser cutters, waterjets, robotic arms, and other digitally controlled devices can enable people who do not have traditional machining skills to fabricate almost anything; this revolution has arrived at a lab or shop near you (or will soon). The equipment powering this “maker movement” presents a variety of potential hazards to users who may not be accustomed to recognizing, evaluating, or controlling EHS issues. In addition, ensuring the safe use of these evolving technologies challenges EHS professionals to become familiar with the often substantial and varied requirements for location, infrastructure, and controls which accompany digital fabrication processes.

Resolution: Types of equipment typically found in a digital fabrication shop and the anticipated infrastructure needs associated with their installation and safe operation will be reviewed.

Results: Administrative and engineering controls which have helped to minimize risk from hazards associated with digital manufacturing tools, whether these tools were facilitized into new construction or existing lab/shop space, will be presented.

Lessons Learned: Both EHS staff and tool users benefit from knowing about and discussing ways to recognize, evaluate, and control hazards associated with this exciting and rapidly growing area of work.​