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.

Note: You may list multiple rooms on a single safety plan, as long as all spaces are located within the same building and managed by the same PI.

For information regarding the Safety Plan for the Tenants/individuals without NC State University email Click Here

VIEW the 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 risks/hazards in a work setting.

Who needs a Safety Plan?

A safety plan is required for all areas that use hazardous materials, hazardous processes/equipment 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, etc.

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 risks/hazards and required protective measures

Training and Education of the students and 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.  Task/location-specific hazardous material training is required prior to use of the area with annual refresher training.

State and federal regulatory compliance

Safety Plan is intended to assist PIs in fulfilling the OSHA requirements as well as other safety regulatory standards of local, state, and federal governing bodies.

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, and internally developed site/task-specific procedures must cover all elements required by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1450.

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

Hazard Communication Program (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) are covered under NC State University’s Hazard Communication Program (HCP).  This program along with your safety plan covers all of the elements required by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1010.1200).  Employees must take Hazard Communication Training for Non-Laboratories (EHPS-0S600). In addition to this online training employees shall receive training on the site specific chemical and hazards.  (Section 8 NC State University’s HCP).

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 or any other location known and readily accessible to those working in the lab.

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, Secondary Safety Contact, and all other affiliated personnel (authorized users), general emergency information and contact phone numbers, as well as the plan approval and renewal dates. This page also provides a link to a printable version of the plan and EHS annual lab inspection record.

Process section for Controlling Potential Exposures and Preventing Incidents

This section addresses specific risks and hazards associated with your location/room and your activities. Process includes a rather routine activity involving hazardous material and/or equipment, or an experiment or task that can pose risk to people or property. For each process, expanded assessment and safety information is captured on:

  • Chemicals and associated by-products;
  • List hazardous chemicals and equipment used in each process
  • Process description: Briefly describes the experiment/task and provides major safety and notices and proper procedures to prevent exposure and incident.
  • Potential hazards: Select and 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);
  • Hazard control: Provides a template for reading a pre-uploaded control measures based on the user’s selected hazards and includes a section for the user to add the additional required and task-specific hazard controls.
  • 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;

Personal protective equipment assessment for each process/task: For each process, indicate hazard type, part of the body affected, and all PPE and hygiene considerations including Lab coats, face shield / protective eyewear, gloves and/or hazard process specific protective apparel. Keep in mind that the minimum PPE for working around hazardous chemicals include a lab coat and eye protection along with long pants and closed toe shoes. This shall be supplemented, as necessary (hazard assessment), with the appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for the tasks to be performed.

Attachments, to include any additional internal safety documents

Attachment is an optional section of the plan, enabling labs to attach the internal safety documents, SOPs, copy of the chemical inventory, hazard reviews, emergency plans, and any other safety-related documents that needs to be documented and made available to all researchers.

Chemical Inventories

Chemical inventory should be completed and kept updated through a built in inventory tool. For most chemicals with an assigned CAS #, inventory list will upload and provide a direct link to SDS and additional health and safety information. Users can add/remove the chemicals on the inventory list. Major changes/update can also be achieved by submitting the inventory Excel sheet to EHS for upload

Hazardous Waste Information

In this section, PI declares type (chemical, biological, and radiological) and location (room #) where waste/unwanted material are generated.

Biological Hazards Information

Under this section, PI declares use of any microorganisms/materials containing microorganisms, attests IBC approval compliance, and identifies any potential human pathogen storage/use.

Target Chemicals and Target Equipment Lists

Target Chemicals and Target Equipment lists are used to determine the location and use of these chemicals and equipment and provide a means of communication regarding safety issues associated with their storage and use. By selecting a target chemical or equipment, a brief health and safety information regarding that specific selection will be displayed and added to your safety plan report. 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.

Self Assessment Checklist

This electronic form is a self inspection tool to aid the PIs, supervisors, and their employees/students in identifying those activities and conditions that need attention to achieve and maintain a safe work environment. This document also describes major state, federal, and university compliance requirements and available resources.

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. PI also attests the review of the Laboratory Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Closure Checklist.


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 complete the online NC State Safety Orientation Checklist training.

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.