CHAPTER 1: Why Must I Read, Follow, and Understand this Safety Manual?

1.1 Introduction - Why do We Have this Manual?

1.1.a To Provide Safety Guidelines & Policies. The St. Olaf College Chemical Hygiene & Safety Manual is intended to provide prudent guidelines and policies that, when properly followed, are capable of protecting employees from harmful exposure to, and health hazards associated with, hazardous chemicals.

1.1.b To Comply with and Meet Regulatory Requirements.This Manual is intended to meet the requirements of:

  • the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) “Laboratory Standard” (29 CFR 1910.1450), formally known as "Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories; Final Rule” (reproduced in Appendix B),
  • the Minnesota Employee Right To Know Act (MERTKA), and
  • other relevant standards summarized in Section 1.5.

1.1.c To Evaluate the Workplaces for Hazards. MERTKA requires employers to evaluate their workplaces for the presence of hazardous substances, harmful physical agents, and infectious agents and to provide training to employees concerning those substances or agents to which employees may be exposed.  Written information on agents must be readily accessible to employees or their representatives. 

Employees have a conditional right to refuse to work if assigned to work in an unsafe or unhealthful manner with a hazardous substance, harmful physical agent or infectious agent.  Labeling requirements for containers of hazardous substances and equipment or work areas that generate harmful physical agents are also included in MERTKA.

1.1.d To Eliminate Hazards or Reduce Risks. The guidelines and policies found in this Manual are designed to eliminate hazards or at least (if followed properly) reduce risks to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all laboratory workers, students, visitors, and the surrounding community:

(1) Administrative Controls.
(2) Engineering Controls.
(3) Personal Protective Equipment.
(4) Standard Operating Procedures.

1.1.e To Avoid Exposure Limits or Action Levels. This Manual is intended to provide policies and procedures that, when followed properly, will safely limit laboratory workers' exposure to OSHA-regulated substances.

(1) Laboratory workers must not be exposed to substances in excess of the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) specified in OSHA Rule 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances. 

(2) Certain substances have “Action Levels” - air concentrations below the PEL - that nevertheless require that certain actions such as medical surveillance and workplace monitoring take place.

1.1.f To Ensure the Medical Surveillance of Employees. An employee's workplace exposure to any regulated substance must be monitored if there is reason to believe that the exposure will exceed an Action Level or a PEL.  If exposures to any regulated substance routinely exceed an action level or permissible exposure level there must also be employee medical exposure surveillance.