Chemical Safety

Laboratory work often involves the use of hazardous chemicals.  Before using a chemical, lab workers must become informed about chemical hazards in addition to their safe handling, storage, and disposal.  Information about chemical hazards can be found below.


Chemical Hazards

Planning for Chemical Use

The key to using chemicals safely is to carefully plan your work.  Planning for chemical use includes:

  • getting the proper training so you understand the hazard of the chemical,
  • preparing yourself with all the necessary safety precautions,
  • developing and documenting a safe working procedure, and
  • learning the proper waste disposal procedures for any waste you might generate.

Laboratory situations which present unusual chemical hazards may require more specific planning, for example:

  • Working alone in a laboratory
  • Allowing laboratory operations to proceed unattended
  • Use of high toxic chemicals as defined by OSHA


Safety Data Sheets

Chemical Use Planning Form

Standard Operating Procedure


Safety Data Sheets

UVM labs are required to have copies of Safety Data Sheet in the lab safety notebook or on a lab computer in a digital file that is available to all lab personnel. Lab personnel should be trained to review SDS information before using a chemical in the lab. Safety Data Sheets may be audited during a lab inspection. 

The Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200(g), revised in 2012, requires that chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers must provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each hazardous chemical to users to communicate hazard information. Information contained in the SDS is required to be presented in a 16-section format. 

The SDS includes information such as the following:

  • Properties of each chemical;
  • Physical, health, and environmental health hazard information,
  • Protective measures; and
  • Safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical. 


Sections 1 through 8 of an SDS contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures (e.g. fire fighting).

Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other technical and scientific information, such as physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity information, toxicological information, exposure control information, and other information including the date of preparation or last revision. 

Hazard symbols and phrases should be consistent with the (United Nations) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The SDS Quick Link above links to a resource that may help you find a Safety Data Sheet for materials used in the lab.

Chemical Use Planning Form

The Chemical Use Planning Form (CUPF) is a required form to be filed out and stored in the Lab Safety Notebook. The information provided on each form can be used to communicate and train safe use of hazardous chemicals to lab personnel.

The Lab Supervisor and/or Lab Safety Officer should complete one form for each of the following:

  • A single hazardous chemical, or
  • A group of hazardous chemicals with the same exact hazard (if the chemicals are used in the same quantity and similarly). 


Chemical "groups" can be found on the Hazardous Chemicals of Concern List.  If a chemical is not included in this list, it is up to the laboratory supervisor to develop an individual Chemical Use Planning Form for the material.

When might more than one CUPF be recommended?

A lab might complete two (2) different Chemical Use Planning forms if they use a particular chemical in two different ways. For example, if a lab uses a 1% hydrochloric acid solution AND a 10% hydrochloric acid bath, a chemical use planning form may be filled out for each. The 1% solution used in perhaps a 100 ml quantity might be safely handled on the lab bench with 4 mil nitrile gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat while a more concentrated hydrochloric acid bath would require the chemical to be used with ventailation such as inside of a chemical fume hood wearing addional PPE, such as neoprene gloves, safety goggles (for the splash potential) and a lab coat and/or rubber apron.

Standard Operating Procedure

The CUPF documents how a hazardous chemical is to be safely used and handled in the lab.  If an assessment determines that the chemical is a high hazard, a laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedure may be required. The Chemical Use Planning Form serves as a record of specific recommendations for using these chemicals in particular situations and should be used as a tool for training new employees in the safe use of chemicals in your laboratory and your laboratory procedures.


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