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Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane

Laboratory Safety

More than 500,000 workers are employed in U.S. laboratories. The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological, physical, and radioactive hazards, as well as musculoskeletal stresses. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. Over the years, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has promulgated rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for personnel. In addition, Washington State has an OSHA-approved laboratory safety plan. Topics related to laboratory safety include:

  • Biological agents
  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Chemical agents
  • Ionizing radiation

WSU’s Laboratory Safety Program strives to develop a culture of safety that will minimize the risk of injury or illness to laboratory workers by assisting principal investigators and laboratory managers with the development of a comprehensive, specific safety program.

Required Training Content

The OSHA Laboratory standard requires that individuals who will be working with chemicals in the laboratory be provided with sufficient training to enable them to conduct their work safely. Training must be provided prior to the time when individuals begin their duties involving chemicals and whenever there is a significant change in the types or quantities of chemicals used. Departments and, ultimately, principal investigators, lab managers or lab supervisors are responsible for ensuring that all individuals working in their laboratories have been adequately trained.

The general training topics required by the Laboratory standard are:

  • Laboratory safety, including the content of the OSHA Laboratory Standard.
  • Hazard communication training
  • Location and availability of the Laboratory Safety and Chemical Hygiene Plan (i.e., Chemical Hygiene Plan).
  • How to read a safety data sheet (SDS), including the location and availability of known reference material on the hazards, safe handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals.
  • Measures that laboratory workers can take to protect themselves from chemical hazards, including control measures, personal protective equipment, standard operating procedures, and emergency procedures.

WAC 296-823-100 requires that employees who may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials that may contain bloodborne pathogens complete bloodborne pathogen training. Examples of bloodborne pathogens are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus.

COVID-19 Resources







Laboratory Support

Chad Trent
Industrial Hygienist
– Respiratory program administrator

Megan Chastain
Scientific Assistant

Ze Liu
Scientific Assistant

Olga Shiva
Scientific Assistant