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Chemical Safety

Chemical Inventory

  • Each laboratory must create an inventory of every hazardous substance known to be present in the work space.
    Click HERE for an electronic format.
  • Chemical Inventories must be updated regularly. An updated copy shall be sent to Kim Bryner at kbryner@hsc.wvu.edu in order for all laboratory door caution signs to be current.
  • Chemical inventory must be placed in the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) Binder.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be available in hard copy form for review by all laboratory personnel. Every chemical listed on the Chemical Inventory MUST have an MSDS.
  • All laboratory personnel must know the location of both the CHP Binder and the MSDS binder.

Labels and Signs

  • All hazardous chemicals are required to be labeled. Absolutely NO abbreviations are to be used on chemical bottles. Laboratory personnel are responsible for ensuring that each existing container and any incoming containers are properly labeled.
  • The label must provide the following information:
    • Chemical Name
    • Any Hazards Warnings
    • Concentration
    • The Manufacturer’s Name
  • Include the following information for chemicals that degrade over time, peroxide formers, and air and water reactive chemicals:
    • Date received
    • Date opened
    • Date tested
  • Products that are not labeled will be considered hazardous until an identification and hazard evaluation can be completed. Any cost that incurs will be paid by the department from which the unknown chemical belongs.
  • Refrigerators used for chemical storage should be labeled with a "No Food or Drink to be Stored in This Refrigerator" sticker.
  • Microwaves used for chemicals should be labeled with a "Notice: The Storing and Preparing of Food/Beverages in this Device is Prohibited" sticker.
  • All chemical cabinets should be marked with appropriate labels such as "Flammables", "Corrosives", or "Radioactive Material/Waste"
  • The HSC Safety Department posts and maintains all laboratory door cautions signs. These signs are very important to First Responders. Therefore, any updates to Emergency Telephone Numbers and/or Chemical Inventory should be given to the HSC Safety Department immediately.

Procurement of Chemicals

All substances should be received in a central location. No container should be accepted without adequate identifying label. If any container or cylinder is leaking or damaged at the time of delivery, refuse it.

Hazard Class of Chemicals

  • Toxic
  • Flammable
  • Reactive
  • Corrosive (2 Subclasses)
    • acids
    • bases
  • Oxidizer
  • Low Hazard

Chemical Storage

  • Store in groups based on compatibility and not in alphabetical order.
  • Inventory the materials stored in the refrigerator frequently and defrost occasionally to prevent chemicals from becoming trapped in the ice formations.
  • Place hazardous materials on lower shelves.
  • Secondary containment for floor storage.
  • Follow specific storage guidelines for regulated and high hazard materials.
  • Do not store liquids above 5 feet.
  • Do not store solids with liquids.
  • Do not store items in working space of fume hoods.
  • Do not store hazardous chemicals in cold rooms.
  • Materials and their containers should be inspected routinely. Indications for disposal include:
    • Cloudiness in liquids
    • Material changing colors
    • Evidence of liquid in solids or solid in liquids
    • Signs of container leakage
    • Indication of pressure build up within container
    • Obvious container deterioration
  • Place acids in vented acid cabinets to reduce corrosion.
    • Separate Oxidizing acids from Organic Acids by secondary containers.
  • Never store peroxide formers (i.e..., ether) in a refrigerator.

Transportation of Chemicals

  • All chemicals should be labeled before being transported.
  • Secondary containment should always be used to contain substances if there is a break in the primary container.
  • Use a wheeled cart to transport chemicals around the building.
  • When chemicals are hand-carried, placed in a secondary container or acid-carrying bucket to protect against breakage and spillage.
  • Incompatible chemicals should never be transported on the same cart.
  • To avoid exposure to persons on passenger elevators, chemicals should be transported on freight elevators only.
  • Transport of chemicals (including gas cylinders) and equipment in crowded hallways when students are traveling between classes should be avoided.
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders
  • Cryogenic Liquid


  • These rooms are specifically designated for chemical storage, handling and/or utilization areas such as preparation rooms, storerooms, waste collection rooms, storage bunkers, or chemical laboratories are controlled access areas.
  • They are not to be entered by the general public. These rooms will not be used as meeting areas, lecture halls (except for pre lab lectures which outline procedures and safety precautions before a laboratory class) or public group demonstrations, displays and/or gatherings. (Appropriate lecture demonstration classrooms are available for that purpose). Tour groups are not to enter these areas. Children are not to enter these areas.
  • Access keys to these areas should be carefully monitored and issued to as small a number of people as possible.
  • Toxic chemicals will be segregated in a well-identified area with adequate local exhaust ventilation.
  • Chemicals that are highly toxic or liquid containers that have been opened will be in unbreakable secondary containers.

General Safety

  • Unauthorized experimentation and work in the laboratory is forbidden.
  • Unauthorized personnel are not permitted in a laboratory.
  • Always work in a Buddy-System when possible, especially if work is performed after hours.
  • Any personal injuries that occur in the laboratory must be reported to the faculty member in charge, After receiving such information, an Injury/ Illness Report form needs to be completed and submitted within 24 hours of the incident.
  • Vocal warning should be given to those working nearby in case of fire, explosion, spillage of dangerous chemicals, release of toxic fumes, etc. For more information on fire and/or spillage see Fire & Life Safety and Spill Response.
  • Each worker must know the location and proper use of fire extinguishers, safety showers and eyewash, MSDS, and first aid kits that are available in that section of the building in which he or she is working.
  • All water, gas, air, electrical, and other service connections must be made in a safe and secure manner. All worn, frayed, or damaged cords and plugs on all electrical equipment must be replaced by satisfactory cords and plugs. Electrical components, power cords, etc., should be kept off of the floor in case of flooding. All tubing for water must be securely fastened.
  • Reactions that are chemically or mechanically hazardous must not be left unattended. If a room contains a special hazard, a sign designating the presence and nature of the hazard must be posted on the door.
  • Good housekeeping is essential. See Housekeeping for more information.
  • Clear visibility from corridors into laboratories must be maintained. Only authorized warning signs and directories are permitted on the glass of the laboratory doors; no posters, etc., are permitted. Specific exceptions will be made where a dark room is required or protection from lasers is needed.
  • All spills must be dealt with promptly and appropriately. See Spill Response for more information.
  • Remove gloves before you exit the laboratory. See Personal Protective Equipment in Laboratories for information on how to properly remove gloves.