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Standard Operating Procedures

RSOs note and delete: Subsections 1, 2, and 3 present the topic headings for the detailed Standard Operating Procedures already included in Appendices D, E, and F. Ask PI's to review these subsections and appendices and train staff on all the SOPs which pertain to the chemicals and procedures used in the laboratory. Work with particularly hazardous or unique chemicals and/or procedures may not be covered by the SOPs listed below. In this case, the PI must ensure the researchers follow written SOPs that describe the work to be conducted, and the safety measures to mitigate any hazards. Procedures and written safety precautions included in laboratory notebooks may serve as laboratory-specific SOPs. Ensure the PI's keep these individual SOPs in the laboratory and train employees on their contents.

As noted in Chapter 1, Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring there are written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the research protocols conducted in their area. The SOPs must identify the hazards of the protocol, as well as measures to be taken to mitigate those hazards. The references listed below may provide enough detail to serve as the SOPs for some research protocols. Other protocols may require more tailoring, as described in Section 5 of this chapter.

Chemical Procedures

  1. Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (Appendix D)
    Laboratory standard operating procedures found in Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals (National Research Council, 1995) are adopted for general use at the University of Minnesota. Departmental Research Safety Officers have hard copies of this text, and the entire contents are accessible on the web. Note especially the following topics which are covered in Chapters 5 and 6 of Prudent Practices:

    Chapter 5 Working with Chemicals
    • Introduction
    • Prudent Planning
    • General Procedures for Working with Hazardous Chemicals
    • Working with Substances of High Toxicity
    • Working with Biohazardous and Radioactive Materials
    • Working with Flammable Chemicals
    • Working with Highly Reactive or Explosive Chemicals
    • Working with Compressed Gases

    Chapter 6 Working with Laboratory Equipment
    • Introduction
    • Working with Water-Cooled Equipment
    • Working with Electrically Powered Laboratory Equipment
    • Working with Compressed Gases
    • Working with High/Low Pressures and Temperatures
    • Using Personal Protective, Safety, and Emergency Equipment
    • Emergency Procedures

  2. Controlled Substances
    In conducting research with controlled substances, University authorized employees must comply with federal and state laws and regulations regarding their uses, including registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), storage requirements, inventory maintenance and substance disposal. A condensed guide to federal regulations as well as policies and forms pertaining to controlled substances are available on the Controlled Substances webpage.

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  1. The American Chemical Society's "Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories"
    ACS's "Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories" is another useful text. This manual presents information similar to that found in Prudent Practices, but in a considerably condensed format.

  2. Hazardous Waste Management
    Extensive and detailed policies regarding hazardous waste management are specified in the University's guidebook "Hazardous Chemical Waste Management, 5th edition". Please refer to this text for approved waste handling procedures (

  3. Emergency Procedures for Chemical Spills
    The procedures listed below are intended as a resource for your department in preparing for emergencies before they happen. If you are currently experiencing an emergency such as a chemical or blood spill, please contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 612-626-6002.

    Complete spill response procedures are described in the Hazardous Chemical Waste Management guidebook ( However, the quick reference guide is included for convenience in this Laboratory Safety Plan.

    Special Note on Broken Mercury Thermometers

                                                            Quick Reference Guide

    • Leave the spill area; alert others in the area and direct/assist them in leaving.
    • Without endangering yourself: remove victims to fresh air, remove contaminated clothing and flush contaminated skin and eyes with water for 15 minutes. If anyone has been injured or exposed to toxic chemicals or chemical vapors, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately

    • Close doors and isolate the area. Prevent people from entering spill area.

    • From a safe place, call the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) (612) 626-6002 during working hours, 911 after hours (Twin Cities Campus 911 operators will contact on-call EHS personnel).
    • Report that this is an emergency and give your name, phone and location; location of the spill; the name and amount of material spilled; extent of injuries; safest route to the spill.
    • Stay by that phone, EHS will advise you as soon as possible.
    • EHS or the Fire Department will clean up or stabilize spills, which are considered high hazard (fire, health or reactivity hazard). In the case of a small spill and low hazard situation, EHS will advise you on what precautions and protective equipment to use.

    • Until emergency response personnel arrive: block off the areas leading to the spill, lock doors, post signs and warning tape, and alert others of the spill.
    • Post staff by commonly used entrances to the area to direct people to use other routes.

    After an accident, supervisor(s) must complete and fax in reporting forms within 24 hours. Workers' Compensation policy and reporting forms are available on the web (Appendix J).

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Biohazardous Procedures

All researchers working with human blood or body fluids, or other pathogens must follow the University's 'Exposure Control Plan', and complete Bloodborne and Other Pathogens Training, available on the web. All researchers working with infectious material including attenuated lab & vaccine strains (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, prions), biologically-derived toxins, rDNA, and artificial gene transfer must follow requirements of the University's Biosafety Program detailed in the Biosafety Manual and on the Institutional Biosafety Committee's website.

  1. Biosafety Manual
    The University's Biosafety Manual is made up of three components; researchers must implement all three components in their lab safety manual.
    • The Biosafety Principles and Practices section of the IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee) web page.
    • CDC/NIH's Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition
    • Individual lab-specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that:
      • specify the biohazards being used
      • identify the material handling steps that may pose a risk of exposure (sharps, injecting animals, centrifugation, aerosol production, transport, etc.)
      • describe equipment and techniques used to reduce the above risk of exposure
      • give instructions for what to do in case of an accidental exposure/spill
      • list wastes that will be generated and how to properly dispose of wastes

  2. Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
    The IBC is charged under Federal Regulations (NIH) and University of Minnesota Regents' Policy with the oversight of all teaching and research activities involving:
    • Recombinant DNA
    • Artificial gene transfer
    • Infectious agents including attenuated lab & vaccine strains
    • Biologically derived toxins
    See the IBC web site for procedures to apply for approval for the above work.

  3. Select Agents
    All research with organisms or toxins that are federally designated as select agents requires the lab to be registered with the Centers For Disease Control. See the Biosafety Section of the DEHS web site for a list of select agents and procedures for their use.

  4. Additional Biosafety References

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Radioactive Procedures

All researchers using radioactive materials at the University of Minnesota must:

The Radiation Protection manual contains information on a number of topics including license committees, the permitting process, purchasing procedures, transfer procedures, general safety, personnel dosimetry, waste management, emergency management (spill control), record keeping, and regulatory guides on occupational exposure and prenatal exposure.

Training is required for all personnel who require access to areas where radioactive materials are used or stored. This training can be completed on line (

General Safety Procedures

Other University of Minnesota Policies for Safe Practices in Laboratories are accessible in Appendix E of this laboratory safety plan.

  1. Lab Safety
    • Emergency Eyewash and Safety Shower Installation
    • Eye Protection/Personal Protective Equipment
    • Flammable and Combustible Liquid Quantities in U of M Laboratories
    • Controlled Substances
    • Greenhouse Policy-Fumigation/Smoke Generation Procedure
    • Labeling Chemicals
    • Lock Out/Tag Out
    • Respiratory Protection Program
    • Termination of Laboratory Use of Hazardous Materials

  2. Fire Safety
    • Flammable and Combustible Liquid Quantities in U of M Laboratories
    • Fire Safety at the University
    • Portable Fire Extinguishers-Type and Placement

  3. General Safety
    • Emergency Procedures
    • Eye Protection/Personal Protective Equipment
    • Extension Cords in University Buildings
    • Foot Protection/Safety-Toe Shoes
    • Holiday Decorations
    • Portable Fire Extinguishers-Type and Placement
    • Public Corridors
    • Respiratory Protection Program
    • Step Ladders-Care and Use
    • Temperature Standard
    • University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus Smoke-Free Indoor Air Policy
    • Supervisors Injury/Illness Investigation Form Working with PCBs

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Laboratory-Specific Standard Operating Procedures

Each PI must have written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the research protocols conducted in his or her laboratory. Like the Lab Safety Plan, the SOPs must be accessible to researchers. Keeping hard copies in the lab or having them on a computer in the laboratory fulfills the accessibility requirement. SOPs developed through DEHS will be posted periodically in Appendix H.

Laboratory-specific SOPs are valuable research tools that supplement the departmental Laboratory Safety Plan. The process of writing SOPs requires an individual to think through all steps of a procedure and perform a risk assessment before beginning work. The SOP provides a written means to inform and advise researchers about hazards in their work place, allows for standardization of materials and methods, and improves the quality of the research. A well-written SOP can be used to comply with the federal Laboratory Safety Standard, which states that the Laboratory Safety Plan must include:

"standard operating procedures relevant to safety and health considerations to be followed when laboratory work involves the use of hazardous chemicals."

SOPs should include exposure controls and safety precautions that address both routine and accidental chemical, physical or biological hazards associated with the procedure. A laboratory safety information sheet is available in Appendix F. This checklist, which prompts researchers to identify hazards and safety measures for the protocol, can be attached to existing procedures which may lack safety information. A template for writing new SOPs is available in Appendix I and guidance for writing biologically-related SOPs is available on the Biosafety section of the DEHS website.

General Emergency Procedures

The procedures listed below are intended as a resource for your department in preparing for emergencies before they happen. If you are currently experiencing an emergency such as a chemical or blood spill, please contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 612-626-6002.

For University employees who have been exposed to bloodborne or other infectious pathogens, please follow the procedures below under "Needle Stick." For all other emergencies call 911.

Planning for Shutdowns

Researchers should develop written procedures to deal with events such as loss of electrical power (affecting fume hoods, coolers etc.) or other utilities (water), or temporary loss of personnel due to illnesses such as pandemic flu. Guidance on factors to consider when developing shut-down plans is included in the Lab Hibernation Checklist in Appendix Q.

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