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Employee Information & Training

All laboratory researchers and their supervisors (Principal Investigators included) must be trained according to the requirements of the Laboratory Safety Standard. Colleges and non-academic departments that engage in the laboratory use of hazardous chemical, physical or biological agents are responsible for identifying such employees. The employees must be informed about their roles and responsibilities as outlined in this standard, as well as hazards associated with their work and how to work safely and mitigate those hazards.

DEHS provides web-based training modules on the basic information and training topics described below on the 'Training' page of the DEHS website. At a minimum, new laboratory employees should complete the modules "Introduction to Research Safety", "Chemical Safety", and "Chemical Waste Management".

DEHS provides web-based training modules on the basic information and training topics. At a minimum, new laboratory employees should complete the modules "Introduction to Research Safety", "Chemical Safety", and "Chemical Waste Management".

In addition, each laboratory supervisor is responsible for ensuring that laboratory employees are provided with training about the specific hazards present in their laboratory work area, and methods to control such hazards. Such training must be provided at the time of an employee's initial assignment to a work area and prior to assignments involving new potential exposures, and must be documented. Refresher training must be provided at least annually.

Volunteers conducting research in University laboratories, in addition to completing the training described below, must complete the Volunteers and Visitor's Laboratory Use Agreement. If the volunteer is a minor, a parent or guardian must also sign the agreement. A minor who is paid to work in a research laboratory must file an Application for Child Labor Exemption with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry


It is essential that laboratory employees have access to information on the hazards of chemicals and procedures for working safely. Supervisors must ensure that laboratory employees are informed about and have access to the following information sources:

The contents of the OSHA Laboratory Safety Standard

"Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories" and its appendices (29 CFR 1910.1450). A copy of this federal standard can be found in Appendix A of this Laboratory Safety Plan.

The University of Minnesota's Laboratory Safety Plan

This generic LSP is available to all employees on the Department of Environmental Health and Safety's web site ( and in the Learning Resource Centers of the various campus libraries. Individual department Laboratory Safety Plans are available within those departments

The Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)

PELs for OSHA regulated substances can be found in Appendix B. Also included in Appendix B are the ACGIH Threshold Limit Value (TLV) list, a list of OSHA health hazard definitions, lists of "select carcinogens" and reproductive toxins, and chemicals having a high degree of acute toxicity.

Signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals.

Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries (LCSSs) are included on pages 235-413 of the 1995 edition of Prudent Practices ( LCSSs are similar to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), but are tailored to the hazards of laboratory use of those chemicals. The LCSSs include toxicity information, and signs and symptoms of exposure to the chemicals.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

MSDSs are available online through links from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety's web site. Hard copies of MSDS for many laboratory chemicals are also available from DEHS or departmental safety offices. Individual researchers are encouraged to keep hard copies in an easily accessible location for materials that are used in large quantities, which are used frequently, or which are particularly toxic.

Information on chemical waste disposal and spill response

The University of Minnesota guidebook, Hazardous Chemical Waste Management 5th edition provides detailed information on proper waste handling procedures.

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Employee training programs will include, at a minimum, the following subjects:

Methods of detecting the presence of hazardous chemicals;

Methods include visual observation, odor, real-time air monitoring, time-weighted air sampling, etc.).

Basic toxicological principles;

Principles include toxicity, hazard, exposure, routes of entry, acute and chronic effects, dose-response relationship, LD50, threshold limit values and permissible exposure limits, exposure time, and health hazards related to classes of chemicals.

Prudent laboratory practices;

Prudent laboratory practices include general techniques designed to reduce personal exposure and to control physical hazards, as well as specific protective mechanisms and warning systems used in individual laboratories. Appropriate use of fume hoods is to be specifically addressed. As noted in Chapter 2, the text Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals (National Research Council, 1995) details general procedures to be followed in U of MN laboratories.

Description of available chemical information;

Container labels, Material Safety Data Sheets, etc.

Emergency response actions appropriate to individual laboratories;

Lists of emergency phone numbers, location of fire extinguishers, deluge showers, eyewashes, etc.

Applicable details of the departmental Laboratory Safety Plan;

Details should include general and laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedures.

An introduction to the Hazardous Chemical Waste Management guidebook.


Update training is required for all laboratory researchers and supervisors / principal investigators (PI's) at least annually. Departmental Research Safety Officers (RSOs) are responsible for coordinating and tracking update training. Often, RSOs may arrange for departmental-wide update-training sessions, focusing on results of laboratory audits, and highlighting issues that may need improvement. Videos from DEHS's library may be borrowed to supplement these training sessions. Individual PI's may conduct research-group-specific safety reviews to supplement or even stand in place of departmental update sessions. However, documentation (paper or electronic) of safety training must be maintained according to the requirements outlined in Chapter 10 of this Lab Safety Plan.

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