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Lab Safety Training Guide




Purpose of This Guide (top)

This training guide provides basic information for working safely with laboratory chemicals and equipment. The guide is intended to supplement, but not replace, your department’s Chemical Hygiene Plan. The Chemical Hygiene Plan offers laboratory safety information and outlines how the department complies with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Laboratory Standard (see Appendix A for more information about the standard). More detailed information is available through the EHS web page, in the Princeton University Laboratory Safety Manual and in your departmental Chemical Hygiene Plan.


Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) (top)

The Princeton University Environmental Health & Safety Office serves the University community by providing technical support, information and training, consultation, and periodic audits of health and safety practices and regulatory compliance. The EHS staff comprises University employees working in a coordinated effort to address health and safety issues in four broad areas of expertise: general safety, chemical safety, radiation safety, and biosafety and sanitation.


Responsibility for Laboratory Safety (top)

Departmental Safety Manager
Each science and engineering department has appointed a Departmental Safety Manager to act as a liaison between the department and EHS. In most academic departments, the Department Manager has taken on this role. Individuals may contact the Department Manager or their supervisor to determine who acts in this role in their department.

The Departmental Safety Manager has responsibility for oversight of health and safety within the department and is a principal contact for faculty, staff and students to address health and safety issues or concerns. The Departmental Safety Manager works with faculty, management, and supervisory personnel in the department to identify potential hazards associated with their operations and activities. The main objective is to clearly identify and understand safety responsibilities, while providing the means and authority necessary to carry out those responsibilities.

Chemical Hygiene Officer
The OSHA Laboratory Standard requires the appointment of a Chemical Hygiene Officer. Each science and engineering department has a Chemical Hygiene Officer responsible for developing and implementing the departmental chemical safety program. In most cases, the Chemical Hygiene Officer is the same individual as the Department Safety Manager. Check with your department manager or EHS to identify the Chemical Hygiene Officer for your department. A list of Chemical Hygiene Officers is available in the Laboratory Safety Manual.

Supervisors and Principal Investigators
Supervisors and Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that laboratory workers attend Laboratory Safety Training provided by EHS and work safely. More specifically, supervisors and Principal Investigators are expected to do the following:

  • Ensure laboratory workers, including staff, students and volunteers, attend Laboratory Safety Training.
  • Ensure laboratory workers understand the potential health and physical hazards of the chemicals and equipment used in the laboratory;
  • Explain proper and safe procedures for handling, under all circumstances, the hazardous substances used in the laboratory;
  • Provide appropriate engineering controls and personal protective equipment to allow laboratory workers to work safely: and
  • Provide laboratory workers with the location and availability of the Departmental Chemical Hygiene Plan and reference materials, including material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
  • Review and approve work with particularly hazardous substances.

Laboratory Workers
Each undergraduate, graduate student, faculty and staff member working in a research laboratory is expected to:

  • Attend Laboratory Safety Training provided by EHS
  • Review the departmental Chemical Hygiene Plan
  • Follow procedures and laboratory practices outlined in the Chemical Hygiene Plan and this training guide
  • Use engineering controls and personal protective equipment, as appropriate
  • Report all accidents, near misses, and potential chemical exposures to your supervisor and/or Chemical Hygiene Officer


Princeton University Policies (top)

Environmental, Health and Safety Policy
Princeton University is committed to providing a safe and healthful environment for its employees, students and visitors and managing the University in an environmentally sensitive and responsible manner. We further recognize an obligation to demonstrate safety and environmental leadership by maintaining the highest standards and serving as an example to our students as well as the community at large.

For more information on Princeton University’s Environmental, Health and Safety Policy, please see Appendix B

Laboratory Security Policy
Safeguarding University resources from unauthorized access, misuse or removal is a duty of all faculty and staff. In laboratories, this obligation rests primarily with the Principal Investigator; however, all laboratory personnel have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions against theft or misuse of materials, particularly those that could threaten the public. Any extraordinary laboratory security measures should be commensurate with the potential risks and imposed in a manner that does not unreasonably hamper research.

At a minimum, the institution expects all laboratory personnel to comply with the following security procedures:

  • Question the presence of unfamiliar individuals in laboratories and report all suspicious activity immediately to Public Safety by calling 8-3134
  • After normal business hours, all laboratories must be locked when not in use

Laboratory building exterior doors are secured after normal business hours. To minimize the likelihood of unauthorized access, all after-hours building users should:

  • Avoid providing building access to unfamiliar individuals
  • Secure doors behind them
  • Immediately report any building security problem to Public Safety at 8-3134

Research or other activities involving the use of lab space, materials or equipment without the knowledge and approval of the responsible Principal Investigator is strictly prohibited. Violation of this prohibition may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.


Training (top)

In addition to Laboratory Safety Training, additional training from EHS may be required depending on the work and materials involved, including work with radioactive materials or radiation-producing equipment, biological materials, lasers, or use of respirators or self-contained breathing apparatus. See Appendix C: Training Matrix for guidance.


For more information (top)

For more information about working safely in your laboratory, consult your laboratory supervisor, principal investigator, Chemical Hygiene Officer or Departmental Safety Manager. If additional information is needed, contact EHS at 8-5294 or visit our web page at A list of additional health and safety reference materials is provided in Appendix E of this guide.

Section 1



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