Health and Safety




About WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC (the Workers’ Compensation Board) is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors. It is funded by insurance premiums paid by registered employers and by investment returns. In administering the Workers Compensation Act, WorkSafeBC remains separate and distinct from government; however, it is accountable to the public through government in its role of protecting and maintaining the overall well-being of the workers’ compensation system.

WorkSafeBC was born out of a compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers or fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-

fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to a safe and healthy workplace, and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits to workers injured as a result of their employment.

WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line

The WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line can answer your questions about workplace health and safety, worker and employer responsibilities, and reporting a workplace accident or incident. The Prevention Information Line accepts anonymous calls.

Phone 604 276-3100 in the Lower Mainland, or call 1 888 621-7233 (621-SAFE) toll-free in British Columbia.

To report after-hours and weekend accidents and emergencies, call 604 273-7711 in the Lower Mainland, or call 1 866 922-4357 (WCB-HELP) toll-free in British Columbia.


Health and Safety



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WorkSafeBC publications


Many publications are available on the WorkSafeBC web site. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and associated policies and guidelines, as well as excerpts and summaries of the Workers Compensation Act, are also available on the web site:

Some publications are also available for purchase in print:


604 232-9704

Toll-free phone:

1 866 319-9704


604 232-9703

Toll-free fax:

1 888 232-9714

Online ordering: and click on Publications; follow the links for ordering

© 2006, 2008 Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia. All rights reserved. The Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C. encourages the copying, reproduction, and distribution of this document to promote health and safety in the workplace, provided that the Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C. is acknowledged. However, no part of this publication may be copied, reproduced, or distributed for profit or other commercial enterprise, nor may any part be incorporated into any other publication, without written permission of the Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C.


2008 edition

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

Laboratory health and safety handbook. -- 2006 ed.

Publisher’s original name, Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, also appears on publication.

Includes bibliographical references: p. ISBN 0-7726-5652-5

1. Laboratories - Safety measures. 2. Hazardous substances - Safety measures.

3. Industrial safety. 4. Industrial safety - British Columbia. I. WorkSafeBC. II. Workers’

Compensation Board of British Columbia.

Q183.A1L32 2006





Introduction 1

Understanding general health and safety requirements 1

Prepare written safe work and emergency procedures 2

Provide worker training and education 2

Carry out workplace inspections 2

Investigate accidents 3

Provide first aid equipment and services 3

Management meetings to review health and safety activities 4

Staff safety meetings/occupational health and safety committee 4

Records and statistics 4

Making your laboratory safe 5

Identify and assess hazards 5

Implement control measures 5

Exposure control plan 5

Personal protective equipment 5

Eye and face protection 5

Hand protection 6

Body protection 7

Foot protection 7

Respiratory protection 7

Prepare for emergencies 8

Spill clean-up 8

Emergency washing facilities 8

Fire protection 9

Proper waste disposal 11

Glass and sharps 11

Organic solvents and flammable waste 11

Biohazardous waste 11

Radioactive waste 11

General do’s and don'ts 12

Working alone 12

Smoking and eating 12

Pipetting 12

Contact lenses 12

Personal hygiene 12

Housekeeping 13


Laboratory Health and Safety Handbook

- iii -

Understanding WHMIS 14

Labels 14

Supplier labels 14

Chemical identification and workplace labels 15

Material safety data sheets (MSDSs) 16

Worker education and training 16

Controlling chemical hazards 17

General chemical hazards and precautions 17

Special hazards 20

Compressed gas cylinders 20

Peroxide formers 20

Labelling 22

Storage 22

Detection of peroxides 22

Azide hazards 22

Picric acid 23

Perchloric acid 23

Venting 23

Heating perchloric acid 24

Storing 24

Spill clean-up 24

Other potentially explosive compounds 24

Designated substances 25

Fume hoods 26

Using fume hoods safely 26

Labelling 26

Monitoring airflow 26

Design and construction requirements 27

Location of controls 27

Ducting 27

Storing chemicals 27

Storage facilities 27

Special storage requirements 28

Incompatible chemicals 30

Cleaning up chemical spills 32

Handling chemicals 32

Containers 32

Transporting chemicals 32

Permitted quantities 33

Labelling 33

Controlling biological agents 34

What is a biological agent? 34

How do laboratory infections occur? 34

Aerosols 34

Employers’ responsibilities 35

Vaccinations 35

Medical evaluation 35

Measures to minimize or eliminate exposure 35

Engineering controls 35

Personal protective equipment 36

Safe work practices 36

Standard precautions 37

Housekeeping practices 38

Waste disposal 38

Labelling 39

Biological safety cabinets 39

Classes of BSC 39

Class I 39

Class II 40

Class III 40

Certification requirements 40

Operating guidelines for class II biological safety cabinets 41

Decontamination 42

Sterilization 42

Indicators 42

Disinfection 43

Biological spills 45

Biological spill kit 45

Spill clean-up 45

Physical hazards 46

Musculoskeletal injury (MSI) 46

Cryogenic liquids 48

Radiation 49

Ionizing radiation 49

Dose limits for ionizing radiation 49

Employer’s responsibilities 49

Radiation safety tips 50

Non-ionizing radiation 51

Animals 51


Laboratory Health and Safety Handbook

- v -

Using laboratory equipment 53

Safeguarding of equipment 53

Local ventilation and flushing of equipment 53

Vacuum breaks 53

Centrifuges 54

Electrophoresis apparatus 54

Additional information 54

Appendix A: Safety tips for compressed gas users 55

Appendix B: Laboratory safety checklist 58

General laboratory safety 58

Administrative matters 58

Housekeeping 58

Equipment 58

Personal protective equipment 58

Emergency washing facilities 59

Fire protection 59

Waste disposal 59

WHMIS requirements 60

Controlling chemical hazards 60

Administrative matters 60

General chemical hazards and precautions 60

Special hazards 60

Peroxide formers 60

Azides 61

Picric acid 61

Perchloric acid 61

Storing chemicals 61

Safe handling and clean-up 62

Fume hoods 62

Controlling biological agents 62

Administrative matters 62

Engineering controls 63

Personal protective equipment 63

Safe work practices 63

Housekeeping 63

Waste disposal 63

Biological agents 63

Labelling 64

Biological safety cabinets 64

Decontamination 64

Biological spills 64

Physical hazards 64

Musculoskeletal injury (MSI) 64

Cryogenic liquids 65

Radiation 65

Ionizing 65

Non-ionizing 65

Animals 65

Laboratory equipment 66

Safeguarding of equipment 66

Local ventilation and flushing of equipment 66

Vacuum breaks 66

Centrifuges 66