Planning and preparation for prudent and safe use of hazardous materials at North Carolina State University (NC State) is predicated on the development of Safety Plans and the shared responsibilities of researchers, faculty, staff and students.

VIEW the New Safety Plan Webex  (conducted 1/18/2017) for a peek and explanation of the new system!

See the following links for further information:

Background of Safety Plans

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers the workplace safety and health regulations in the United States. The OSHA regulation entitled “Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories” (29 CFR 1910.1450, commonly referred to as the “Laboratory Standard”) requires the development of a “Chemical Hygiene Plan” which states how the University will implement the requirements of the Laboratory Standard to provide a safe and healthful work environment for its employees. NC State’s application of this standard is broader in scope and is applied to all areas that store and use hazardous materials and processes.  University Safety Plans are intended to fulfill these OSHA requirements as well as all other regulatory standards of local, state, and federal governing bodies.

Laboratory Safety Plans and the ACS Tutorial

The American Chemical Society (ACS) handbook is intended to be the foundation of each safety plan.  The University’s application of the material in the handbook is presented as ‘will’ rather than ‘should’.  The ACS handbook will be supplemented by material provided by Principal Investigators about specific chemicals and hazards in a work setting.

Who needs a Safety Plan?

A safety plan is required for all areas that use hazardous materials, hazardous processes and storage of these items.  Affected areas include, but are not limited to machine shops, Facilities Zone Shops, utility and facility chemical storage areas, agricultural locations (research farms, field labs, and extension locations) and laboratories (teaching and research).

What is a Hazardous Material?

For the purposes of safety plans, this term encompasses:

  • Physical hazards
  • Biological Materials
  • Chemicals – Office chemicals (white-out, glue and copying supplies) are exempt
  • Radioactive material or radiation producing devices
  • Hazardous processes: high voltage, high pressure


Intended Use of Safety Plans 

Emergency planning and response

Information is used by emergency response personnel, to communicate information about the major hazards in the area that may impact emergency response


Hazardous material information determine both the frequency of laboratory/facility inspections and if process safety reviews are required

Hazard Awareness

The plan acts as a resource for personnel working in an institutional setting to identify potential hazards

Training and Education of Staff

Each safety plan is intended to serve as an instructional tool for all individuals working in an area, to apprise them of potential hazards, as well as the procedures necessary to foster a safe work environment.  Location-specific hazardous material training is required prior to use of the area with annual refresher training.


Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP)

All NC State University personnel who handle and may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in research laboratories need to review the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). This document, along with your safety plan, covers all elements required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1450.

The Chemical Hygiene Plan is also a training tool to help protecting employees from specific health hazards in laboratories and to keep exposure below limits specified by OSHA.


Chemical Safety Guide (CSG) for non-laboratory chemical users

All NC State University personnel who handle and may be exposed to chemicals in a non-laboratory setting (e.g. filed labs and facilities zones hops) need to review the Chemical Safety Guide (CSG). This document, along with your safety plan, covers all elements required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Chemical Safety Guide training helps protect employees from specific health hazards in different work environments and keep exposures below the limits specified by OSHA.


Document and Posting Requirements

Safety Plans provide background information required to establish safe working practices for hazardous material/processes use and handling. The PI is responsible for implementation and enforcement of safe work practices and the plan functions as both a training tool and reference source.  A printed version of the current and approved safety plan must be prominently available in the facility near the main entrance/exit.


Content of a Safety Plan  

Although the Laboratory Standard provides some compliance flexibility, the Safety Plan program requirements at NC State must address specific areas:

General Area and Contact Information (cover sheet)

The Safety Plan database will compile plan ownership information into a quick reference cover sheet.  The cover sheet will include the Principal Investigator, the building and room locations, all affiliated personnel, general emergency information and contact phone numbers, as well as the plan approval and renewal dates.

Safety Information for Controlling Exposures

This section addresses specific hazard processes associated with your location/room.  For each process, expanded process and safety information is captured on:

  • Chemicals and associated by-products;
  • Potential hazards: Describe all potential hazards for each process (physical, biological or chemical). If the laboratory contains numerous chemicals, it is acceptable to define the hazard for a class of chemical such as corrosive, oxidizer, flammable, etc.  Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) and exposure signs/symptoms must be detailed if not available on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS);
  • Ventilation and engineering mechanisms: Describe all engineering controls used to reduce employee exposures to hazardous chemicals or physical agents, such as ventilation devices, aerosol suppression devices, shielding and safety features on equipment;
  • Special handling and storage requirements: List all storage requirements (i.e. segregation, flammable storage cabinets, etc) for hazardous materials in the area. Include specific storage locations, special containment devices, restricted access plans, designated area and additional information on the proper storage and handling of hazardous materials;
  • Emergency response/decontamination procedures: Indicate how spills or accidental releases will be handled and by whom;

Hazardous Processes or Procedures

Indicate the hazard category (the potentially affected body part) and the hazard type (source of hazard – burn, cut, heat, impact, etc).

Personal Protective Equipment

Indicate all PPE and hygiene considerations for each process, including Lab coats, face shield / protective eye wear, gloves and/or hazard process specific protective apparel.

Attachments, to include evacuation routes/maps

Every Safety Plan must include a schematic drawing of the laboratory, which shows equipment, aisles, egress, fire extinguisher, and emergency power shutoffs, if available.  These should be written protocols addressing evacuation procedures and emergency conditions requiring evacuation of the laboratory.  A schematic must be attached with the safety plan in the database.

Chemical Inventories

Chemical inventory should be completed with the provided MS Excel template, with the plan number, principal investigator name and lab location (building and room); gas cylinders should be included.

Target Chemicals and Target Equipment Lists

A Target Chemicals list is used to determine the location and use of these chemicals plus provide a means of communication regarding safety issues associated with its use.

A Target Equipment list allows Environmental Health to determine the location, the use of this material/equipment and to provide a means of communication regarding safety issues associated with its use.  The information is a first step in the Process Hazard Review.

Department of Homeland Security Target Chemical Listings

The Department of Homeland Security has enacted stringent chemical security regulations governing the control of select chemicals of interest.  If you have any of the listed chemicals of interest under your control, check the name of the applicable chemicals and enter the quantities you possess.  This information will be used by EHS to comply with DHS reporting requirements.

Supervisor Self-Audit Checklist

This form is used to acknowledge that everything in the safety plan is accurate and complete, indicating the PI has or will fill out the self-audit checklist and verify they are doing what is needed to minimize hazardous waste.

Facilities Emergency Closure Planning Checklist

In the event that an incident may interrupt your laboratory operations, preparation of an emergency shut down plan will familiarize faculty, staff and students with actions to mitigate the loss of research, property, or life.

Supervisor Final Signature, Declarations and Assurances

Principal Investigator verification and declaration of the information and practices included in the safety plan content, as well as prudent safety practices in his/her facility.


Affiliated Safety Plan Components

Safety Plans compile a litany of information for ease of reference. However, supplemental or supporting information may be needed for specific approvals or processes.

Employee Safety Training: All new employees on their first day of work or prior to work activities, should review the NC State Safety Orientation Checklist. The supervisor, employee/student must sign the form. A copy should be given to the employee/student and the original should be retained in the department.

Biological Agents require an application and subsequent approval for the use of biological agents in research.  Investigators must obtain separate approval, in addition to Safety Plan approval, from the Institutional Biosafety Committee.

Radioactive material or x-ray producing device applications and approval is required by the Radiation Safety Committee, prior to starting research.  This approval must be obtained in conjunction with an approved safety plan.