Chemical Hygiene Standard v. Hazard Communication

By: December 24th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

In 1987 OSHA created the Hazard Communication (HC) standard, which required all industries to take measures ensuring employee safety regarding hazardous chemicals.

But the standard failed to take into account the number of chemicals present in laboratories, which store hundreds of chemicals, often in small quantities. In some cases, the standard forced these labs to have as many as 900 MSDS forms on hand.

So, OSHA went back and made and exception for labs by creating the Chemical Hygiene Standard (CHS) in 1990. This standard contained most of the same material in the HC standard, but was designed specifically for labs to eliminate unnecessary documentation. Special consideration is given for chemicals in kit form.  They don’t need to be listed on the chemical inventory, and you don’t need an MSDS for them. In addition, any reagent that has leas than 1% of a hazardous chemical in it also does not need to be listed.

Many labs will play it safe and just do an MSDS for all chemicals to avoid an OSHA fine, but the important thing to remember is that CHS takes precedence over the HC standard for all labs. It’s not a matter of choosing between the two, so it’s important that your employees are trained on CHS, since it’s a requirement from both OSHA and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). That’s where a lot of labs get cited.

But abiding by CHS isn’t such a bad thing, since it was created specifically to cut labs a break in terms of paperwork. It might be a good idea to bring in the New Year by making sure your lab is in compliance.

Gile has a Chemical Hygiene Training DVD, which addresses CHS specifically. To purchase it, click here.


By Sandy Kalic on January 7th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I was regularly getting Lab Safety advisor emailed to me and have used it for several years as an educational information for my clinical staff. I have not received an email for several months and was wondering if I have been removed form the list. I would like to continue to receive this newsletter as we find it very helpful. Sandy Kalic
Eastern OHio Pulmonary

By David LaHoda on January 7th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Sandy: The Lab Safety Advisor list was rolled in the Medical Environment Weekly list, which covers similar occupational health and safety matters, and you should be receiving. If not not, click here to subscribe.

We are continuing to publish lab-specific safety material and training tips every week from Terry Jo Gile (a.k.a. the Safety Lady) on this site. Look for the “Safety Lady” banner on the home page on days when we feature her post, or open up the Lab Safety category on the home page to see the full list of Terry Jo Gile posts.


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