Laboratory Health and Safety Plan

To be sure you are in compliance with regulatory requirements, refer to the EHS Virtual Manual and EHS Safe Operating Procedures.


Laboratories are ubiquitous work areas at the University, providing special equipment and chemicals for teaching and research. Because the level and range of hazards vary considerably, it is necessary that every laboratory develop a health and safety plan to minimize accident and injuries and provide safety guidelines and procedures to individuals working in these facilities.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) provides a number of Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide additional and useful information.

More information can be found at the UNL Environmental Health and Safety and US Dept of Labor OSHA. In addition, the EHS Virtual Manual contains an assessment section where you can identify which safety programs need to be reviewed for individual lab hazards.

General Safety

Ordering, receiving, storing, and using chemicals in the laboratory is a daily activity. Unsafe practices, especially when doing something routine, can result in accidents. This section describes procedures for properly handling chemicals. All laboratory workers must know the following proper work practices that will minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals:

  • Do not taste or directly smell chemicals
  • Ensure that equipment that discharges toxic chemicals is vented into exhaust hoods, not into areas where the air is recirculated (e.g., cold rooms)
  • Do not use dry ice or liquid nitrogen in cold rooms or small rooms without adequate ventilation
  • Inspect gloves and glove boxes before use
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or apply cosmetics in areas where laboratory chemicals are present
  • When working with chemicals, wash hands thoroughly before eating or leaving the laboratory
  • Do not store, handle, or consume food/beverages in the laboratory areas or in laboratory refrigerators, and do not store chemicals in offices
  • Label food items used for experimental purposes as “For Research Only”


  • A fact sheet on understanding MSDS information is included as in this safety manual and in the employee information and training section of the chemical hygiene plan from EHS.
  • The MSDS (available from the chemical manufacturer or HMP) includes information on the hazards of a specific chemical.
  • MSDS for a large number of chemicals are found in MSDS-ONLINE.
  • All labs must provide instructions on obtaining MSDS information.

Laboratory, Sample Preparation and Storage Areas

Sample preparation and storage areas are often used by both field and laboratory personnel. Staff and students working in these areas must be made aware of chemical and physical hazards. Supervisors who are responsible for these personnel will ensure that appropriate training classes and information have been provided. In addition, literature and signage related to hazards in these areas will be clearly posted so that individuals can assess whether they are trained to deal with these hazards. (EHS SOP Door Posting for Emergency Purposes).

Laboratory Housekeeping

Clean, well-maintained work areas minimize hazards and enhances work efficiency.  Keep the area as clean as the work allows throughout the day and all working surfaces should be cleaned at the end of each work day.  Obtain only supplies and equipment needed for the immediate project, and return immediately after use.

Maintain a chemical inventory and store only the amount of material expected to be used in a reasonable amount of time (General Guidance for Chemical ordering, receipt, distribution, use & storage Maintain specific labeling for any solutions or products that may be produced using chemical or biological reactions (Chemical Container Labeling ) .  Date peroxide forming chemicals with the date received and the date opened (EHS SOP, Use and Storage of Peroxide-Forming Chemical).

It is the responsibility of the laboratory to provide all equipment needed to safely conduct procedures and appropriately handle chemicals. (Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures ) .  It is also the responsibility of the laboratory to provide the appropriate containment equipment in case of a spill of hazardous materials (Preplanning for and Responding to Hazardous Chemical Spills ).

Know how to manage laboratory wastes properly.  Ensure that proper collection containers for biohazards, sharps, and paper trash are placed near the point of use and are adequate of size, and do not over fill collection receptacles.  (NOTE: Need to include a statement about the EHS disposal room located at 136A.  While this is not used for chemical disposal, some lab wastes can be disposed of in this room such as batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and aerosol cans.)

Most laboratory wastes require special handling.  Ensure that all wastes that are not general refuse (e.g., radioactive, chemical, and biohazardous wastes) are prominently labeled and that custodial staff are trained not to remove these materials from the lab. Certain chemicals, pre-approved by EHS, can be diluted and disposed of in the sanitary sewer system.  All radioactive, biohazardous, and chemical wastes not listed on the Sewer Disposal List are considered to be hazardous waste and must be disposed of by EHS (Hazardous Material Collection Procedures .)

Do not let materials accumulate in laboratory hoods. The safety of this workspace and the ventilation provided is compromised when excessive chemicals and equipment are kept in this space (Laboratory Hood/Cabinet Identification and Use).  

Use care when handling laboratory glassware (EHS SOP, “Ground Glass and Glassware Cleaning Safety ”, and dispose of all broken glassware and containers in specially designed glass disposal containers (Sharps (Non-Infectious) - Handling and Disposing ) .

Health Monitoring

In order to detect potential health impacts resulting from exposure to chemicals, laboratories should administer a health-monitoring program. In conjunction with this program, all individuals associated with the field activities are encouraged to undergo yearly physical examinations. The examinations should include a medical and work history.

The following medical parameters may be evaluated during the physical examination:

  • Complete personal, family, and environmental history
  • Comprehensive physical examination
  • Complete laboratory blood screen
  • Urinalysis
  • Chest X-ray (once every 3 years)
  • Resting electrocardiogram
  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Tonometry (35 years of age and older)
  • Audiometric screening
  • Vision and color blindness testing
  • Hemocult testing


Laboratory chemicals are one of the most common hazards in a laboratory. It is a UNL requirement that you maintain a chemical inventory for every individual laboratory and post this inventory on the entrance for emergency purposes.


Always take steps to protect yourself and others. Use chemical fume hoods and PPE, follow protocols, and label and dispose of materials as detailed in UNL guidelines.

  • Plan your work and make safety a component of that plan. Prepare yourself and your work area for the task at hand.
  • Be prepared to respond to an emergency. Know the location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc. Post emergency telephone numbers and room numbers next to each telephone. Access to a cellular phone for laboratory personnel is recommended.
  • Understand the nature of the compounds/agents with which you will work. Scan the labels of bottles for warnings and read MSDS information when necessary. Understand special handling requirements, incompatibilities, need for PPE, and how to handle emergencies that may result.
  • Follow all safety procedures. Do not become complacent simply because nothing has ever happened.
  • Store, handle, and dispose of chemicals/agents by the appropriate protocols. Follow good housekeeping, replace leaking containers, dispose of contaminated items promptly, and keep all chemicals in labeled containers. Wash your hands when experiments are completed.
  • Report unsafe conditions and practices that you encounter, including any symptoms of overexposure that you may experience. The Safety and Facilities Committee will investigate any problems brought to their attention.
  • If you are unsure how to proceed with an experiment or procedure, ask the laboratory safety manager or responsible faculty member for guidance.


The following procedures will ensure responsible chemical procurement:

  • Preplan all laboratory activities and carefully estimate the amount of each chemical needed
  • Order chemicals in the smallest quantity necessary to fulfill the estimated need; it is expensive to dispose of excess chemicals
  • When possible, substitute chemicals that are the least hazardous for the task to be performed
  • Determine whether proper storage and adequate ventilation is available
  • If pertinent information is unavailable, contact the manufacturer before ordering new chemicals
  • Add MSDS to inventory notebook
  • Prepare the work area for the arrival of the chemical (for example, identify a proper storage location, ensure that proper labeling exists on the container, post appropriate signs, obtain and check PPE)


Ordering, Receipt, and Distribution of Chemicals , Use of Compressed Gas Cylinders in Laboratories

  • Date all chemicals when received by the laboratory and record an expiration date if given.
  • Peroxide forming chemicals must be dated when they are received and also when first opened. These chemicals must be disposed of within one year of purchase or six months after opening, whichever comes first. Testing for peroxide formation by HMP or with peroxide testing strips is necessary after six months of storage of these chemicals.
  • Observe all warnings on the receiving package. If the chemical is not properly labeled, do not accept it. Review and observe information on the safe handling and storage of the chemical.
  • Deliver all hand-held hazardous chemicals in shock-resistant carrying containers or buckets.
  • Do not stack boxed chemicals beyond two levels on a delivery cart.
  • When transporting gas cylinders, the cylinder must be lashed to the cradles of the hand cart with the cap of the cylinder screwed on.
  • Enter the new chemical name, the amount, and other required information in the laboratory chemical inventory. Update the inventory that is posted on the outer side of the hallway door.


  • Lab supervisors of individual teaching and research labs will maintain a “working inventory” of chemicals and their quantity. The date of receipt of each chemical must be marked on its container in the laboratory.
  • Do not store incompatible chemicals together.
  • Keep numbers and amounts of chemicals stored in operating areas as small as possible.
  • Protect chemicals from direct sunlight. Store in labeled amber bottles when necessary.
  • Never return unused chemicals to stock bottles.
  • Properly discard contaminated or unwanted chemicals according to HMP protocols
  • Ensure that all containers are in good condition, properly capped, and properly labeled.
  • Containers must never be unlabeled, and no container should ever be labeled as waste or spent. The label “USED CHEMICALS” is preferred.
  • Store chemicals in well-sealed bottles (not in open vessels) or, if necessary, in light-protected bottles. Do not use eye-dropper bottles for long-term storage of corrosive or water-reactive chemicals.
  • Secondary containment for highly reactive or corrosive liquids is recommended.
  • Store nothing closer than twelve inches from the ceiling (twenty-four inches in areas with sprinkler systems).
  • Clean shelves often to ensure that they are free from dust and chemical contamination.
  • Do not overcrowd chemicals.
  • Remove empty bottles from stockroom shelves.
  • Securely fasten shelves to a wall or the floor. Ensure that the shelves are level and stable.
  • Store and use carcinogens in specially designated areas. These areas must be posted with warning placards.


Chemical Container Labeling

All solutions in a laboratory must be labeled and inventoried according to University standards.


  • All laboratories, storerooms and other areas where chemicals are stored must maintain a current chemical inventory to inform workers and emergency personnel of chemical hazards. The chemical inventory must be maintained and posted in all work areas
  • Post a hard copy of the chemical inventory for each chemical storage room near a hallway door or in the chemical manager’s office. List chemicals by chemical name, not formula or abbreviation, and the usual amounts on hand.


Hazardous Material Collection Procedures

Each lab unit that uses or generates hazardous chemicals will be responsible for their disposal as follows:

  • Unwanted chemicals will not be disposed of via the trash, sewer systems, evaporation, or other means without prior approval from HMP (402-472-4925).
  • To dispose of excess or unwanted chemicals, contact HMP for advice. Used chemicals should be collected in an appropriate container and labeled “USED CHEMICALS” (not waste chemicals). An accurate description of the contents of the container using chemical names (not formulas, chemical structures, or acronyms), approximate concentration or percent, and amount must be attached.
  • Do not collect incompatible used chemicals in the same container.
  • Containers to be used for storage must be compatible with the chemicals contained. Each used chemical container must be secondarily contained in an unbreakable container of sufficient volume to hold the contents of the primary container.
  • Materials to be disposed of by HMP or other UNL agency may be held in the material satellite accumulation area. A written log must be kept of materials being stored in this area. It must record the date, name and amount of chemical/material, and name of the individual placing the material into storage. The chemicals must be tagged according to HMP requirements. Only the laboratory safety manager or a designated person will be allowed to place materials in storage for disposal. When the storage container is full, it is to be sealed and the appropriate UNL agency notified to remove it.
  • Unused surplus chemicals can be added to the UNL surplus chemical inventory through EHS.



Each lab is required to incorporate general safety procedures into their working routine, such as the emergency procedures described in the safety manual, procedures for chemical spill control, and access to and care of appropriate protective equipment. But risk reduction when working with hazardous materials involves development of special procedures.

  • These procedures should be drawn up or reviewed before experiments with hazardous chemicals commence.
  • They should include proper procedures for handling the hazardous chemical, safety equipment requirements, rates of chemical exposure, methods to minimize exposure, and appropriate emergency or decontamination protocols and procedures for disposal of the used chemicals or materials at the end of the experiment.
  • It is recommended that lab groups develop written sets of standard procedures to be kept on file for reference in the laboratory.
  • It is recommended that students and staff do not work alone in the laboratory after hours. If working alone is unavoidable, additional safety precautions should be followed: (1) Notify your laboratory safety manager or supervisor of work duties that will be performed; (2) Never attempt new or untested experiments while working alone; (3) Do not work with especially hazardous chemicals; (4) Notify friend or family member of your work schedule and when you plan on returning home from the laboratory; (5) Be aware of emergency numbers and if necessary keep a cellular phone nearby while working.
  • When an experiment calls for incompatible materials, the laboratory where this experiment is to occur must prepare and implement special procedures to handle the risk. The supervising faculty and the laboratory safety manager are required to review and approve the experiment before it is conducted.


A chemical is defined as hazardous if it satisifies any of the following three characteristics:

  • It is determined to be cancer-causing, toxic, corrosive, an irritant, a strong sensitizer (i.e., first exposure causes little reaction in human or animals but re-exposure results in intense reaction, usually a skin reaction), flammable, or reactive and thereby poses a threat to human health and the environment.
  • It is specially listed under the OSHA 29 CFR part 1910, Subpart Z.
  • It has been assigned a threshold limit value (TLV) by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH).


  • Inhalation – Gases and vapors, including water-insoluble compounds, may enter the body via the mouth, nose and lungs. Highly soluble compounds tend to irritate the nose and upper respiratory tract, while more insoluble forms may attack the deep regions of lungs (potentially) causing edema (accumulation of liquids). Some gases may enter the blood stream and circulate to other regions of the body.
  • Eyes – Eye contact with chemicals may cause anything from short-term irritation to blindness. Wear safety shields or goggles to guard against eye contact. The use of contact lenses be discouraged in the laboratory.
  • Skin – Some chemicals, especially those capable of promoting protein and lipid denaturation, may cause local site-of-contact reactions or penetrate the skin and be absorbed into blood circulation. Make it a habit to routinely wash hands before leaving the laboratory.
  • Ingestion – Small amounts of material may be ingested if you eat, drink, or smoke in the vicinity of chemicals. Other activities such as nail biting and licking fingers to turn pages of notebooks may also result in ingestion of chemicals. For some highly toxic compounds, even small amounts can have significant effects.


Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures SOP


Storage and Use of Flammable and Combustible Liquids

These chemicals can generate sufficient vapors to cause a fire in the presence of an ignition source. Materials that have a flash point below 100oF are “flammable,” whereas materials that have a flash point above 100oF are “combustibles.”

Examples of flammable liquids

  • acetone
  • benzene
  • methanol

Examples of combustible liquids

  • acetic acid
  • catechol
  • acetylsalicylic acid
  • anthracene


  • Depending on the density of a chemical, vapor trails can rise, sink, or travel horizontally to reach an ignition source, resulting in a flashback fire. Fire can also occur from reactions between flammables or combustibles and oxidizers. The following precautions must be observed when using these chemicals:
  • Keep flammable and combustible material away from any source of ignition (e.g., flames, heat, sparks, static electricity.
  • If possible, keep the volume of flammable liquids stored in glass containers to one liter or less.
  • Do not evaporate flammable liquid in a fume hood as a means of disposal. This is illegal.
  • Ensure that electrical equipment is in good repair and is properly bonded or grounded where flammable and combustible materials are present.
  • Segregate flammables and combustibles from oxidizing acids and other oxidizers.
  • Secure screw caps on containers immediately after dispensing flammable or combustible material. Do not leave open beakers of flammable or combustible liquids on a bench top. Flammables and combustibles should be placed in a hood as soon as possible after dispensing.
  • Ensure that there is proper bonding and grounding to avoid static charge when transferring combustibles and flammables between metal containers or dispensing from a large container or drum.
  • Store used flammable and combustible liquids in containers like the original, with an appropriate label giving the exact contents of the container.
  • Store flammables or combustibles requiring refrigeration in flame-proof refrigerators or freezers.


"Chemical Safety: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You!" , Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures SOP, Hydrofluoric Acid

These materials cause visible destruction or irreversible alterations in living tissue at the site of contact. Additionally, they may be defined as materials that cause a severe deterioration rate in steel or aluminum. Corrosive materials include acids and bases, oxidizing agents, and some dehydrating agents. Corrosives react with the skin and are particularly damaging to the lungs and eyes.

Examples of corrosive agents

  • aluminum chloride
  • glacial acetic acid
  • sodium hydroxide
  • hydrogen fluoride

Observe the following precautions when handling and storing these types of chemicals:

  • Segregate acids from bases.
  • Store mineral acids in separate areas from organic acids and other flammable materials.
  • Use safety bottle carriers for transporting bottles of corrosives.
  • Store large bottles of acid in acid cabinets.
  • Wear personal protective clothing (e.g., gloves, face shields, etc.).
  • Add acid to water, never the reverse. Avoid violent reactions and splattering.
  • Ensure that a working safety shower and eyewash are readily available.
  • Use appropriate absorbents or neutralizers when cleaning spills of corrosives.


These are compounds that are life-threatening when small amounts are present as gas, vapor, or liquid.

Examples are

  • mercuric chloride
  • cyanogen bromide
  • nitrobenzene
  • sodium azide


  • Avoid contact.
  • Wear personal protective clothing.
  • Conduct experiments in the chemical fume hood when practical.


Carcinogens are materials known to cause cancer in humans or suspected to be capable of causing cancer in humans.

Carcinogens include

  • benzene
  • chloroform
  • carbon tetrachloride
  • hydrazine
  • mitomycin c

The following requirements must be observed when working with carcinogens:

  • A written experimental protocol must be developed before work begins. This protocol must include emergency and decontamination procedures.
  • Carcinogens are to be used and stored in specially designated areas only.
  • Carcinogen use and storage areas must be posted with signage that identifies the nature of the carcinogen.


Irritants are noncorrosive materials that cause a reversible inflammatory effect on eyes, skin, or respiratory system by chemical action at the site of contact, as a function of concentration or duration of exposure. Asphyxiants either deprive the tissue of oxygen or render the body incapable of maintaining an adequate oxygen supply.

Examples of irritants

  • ammonia
  • iodine
  • chlorine

Examples of asphyxiants

  • carbon dioxide
  • nitrogen, helium
  • nitrous oxide
  • carbon monoxide
  • cyanides

Precautions for use:

  • Avoid contact with skin and eyes.
  • Wear personal protective clothing.
  • Conduct experiments in the chemical fume hood when practical.


Use and Storage of Peroxide-Forming Chemicals ,For Oxidizers and Safe Storage: "Chemical Safety: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You!, Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures SOP, For Pyrophoric Chemicals: Pyrophoric Chemicals and "Pyrophoric (Air Sensitive) Chemical Safety"

These chemicals can release energy quickly and forcefully and can detonate. Some of the common classes of reactives, with examples and precautions for handling, are as follows:

Oxidizers are fire and explosion hazards when they come in contact with organic compounds or strong reducing agents. Examples 

  • areammonium dichromate
  • ammonium nitrate
  • ammonium perchlorate
  • calcium chloride
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • potassium permanganate

  • Store oxidizers away from flammable, combustible, and reducing agents (e.g., zinc, alkaline metals, etc.).
  • Store oxidizers in break-resistant containers when used in the laboratory (e.g., heavy-walled glass containers or glass that has been plastic-coated on the outside).
  • Before using oxidizers, consult MSDS to confirm that no incompatible chemicals will contact the oxidizer.

Water-Reactive Chemicals react with water to form heat and flammable or explosive gases. Follow the procedures outlined below when handling/storing these types of chemicals.


  • aluminum chloride (anhydrous)
  • benzoyl chloride
  • sodium or potassium metals


  • Keep water-reactive chemicals away from water.
  • Store water-reactive chemicals in a cool, dry area away from any type of water contact and in a sealed, secondary container.
  • In case of fire, use a carbon dioxide or dry chemical extinguisher or smother flames with sand.
  • Be especially cautious when using these chemicals in humid weather.
  • Check all apparatus and water hoses for potential leaks when used in an experiment incorporating water-reactive chemicals.

Peroxide-Forming Chemicals are usually unstable and are one of the most hazardous classes of chemicals regularly encountered in the laboratory. Many common laboratory chemicals can form peroxide when exposed to air, so even opening the container to remove some of its contents can allow the formation of peroxides to occur. Others are polymerizable unsaturated compounds that can initiate a runaway, explosive polymerization reaction.


  • diethyl ether
  • tetrahydrofuran
  • cyclohexene
  • cellosolves
  • vinyl ethers
  • dioxane
  • diisopropyl ether (severe hazard)

  • Label peroxide-forming chemicals with the date received, date opened, and expiration date.
  • Disposal of these chemicals must occur one year from the date of receipt, even if the bottle/can was never opened.
  • Never allow peroxide-forming chemicals to become dry through evaporation.
  • Store peroxide-forming chemicals in airtight containers located in dark, cool, dry areas.
  • Peroxide test strips are available from Merck/EM Quant.
  • Buy peroxide-forming chemicals in the smallest amount possible.
  • Tag the chemical for removal by HMP before it expires (one year from the date of purchase or six months from the date of opening, whichever comes first).

Pyrophorics - In contact with air, these chemicals ignite spontaneously at 130oF or below. In some cases, friction may ignite these compounds.


  • Aluminum alkylhalides
  • aluminum dust
  • zinc metal/powder

It is recommended that these materials be used and stored in inert environments.


  • Segregate hazardous chemicals from other chemicals in well-identified areas equipped with local exhaust ventilation.
  • Store chemicals that are particularly hazardous, or hazardous chemicals that have been opened, in unbreakable secondary containers.
  • Store chemicals by reactive class (e.g., flammable with flammable, oxidizers with oxidizers).
  • Do not allow open flames, smoking, and localized heating in chemical storage areas.
  • Eliminate all sources of sparks from storage areas.
  • Store chemicals in well-ventilated, dry, cool areas.
  • Keep storage areas as clean as possible.


For information on the disposal of chemicals, see the “Chemical Hygiene Plan” from EHS. Direct any questions to HMP (2-4925).

  • No chemical will be disposed of via the trash, sanitary sewer, evaporation, or other means without prior approval from the HMP.
  • Each lab unit that generates hazardous chemicals will be responsible for their disposal.
  • Mixed used chemicals for disposal will be listed on a log sheet attached to the container, using the full written name of each chemical (no abbreviations or chemical formulas can be used), the concentration or percent, and the amount added to the container.
  • The mixed used chemical container must be secondarily contained in a container compatible with the used chemicals and capable of holding the entire contents of the original container. The container must be labeled with the words “Used” followed by what is in the container (i.e. Used Ethanol Solutions, Used Ethidium Bromide Gels).
  • Unwanted chemicals are disposed in cooperation with EHS (2-4925).
  • Chemicals to be picked up by EHS must be tagged.
  • The material needs to be in a container appropriate for the material involved (original container is preferred) with a tight-fitting screw cap. No corks or stoppers can be used.
  • Make special arrangements with HMP for pickup of large quantities from an approved central site.
  • Complete in-house disposal of small quantities of chemicals whenever possible in a safe manner using procedures approved by EHS.


Ethidium bromide is a strong mutagen and is used on a daily basis in many biological science labs. For this reason, its handling and disposal will be treated as a special case contact EHS for instruction of the mutagen.

  • Solutions with concentrations greater than 5 mg/L should be chemically degraded.
  • Solutions with concentrations at or less than 5 mg/L (as in wash solutions) can be discharged into the drain.
  • Gels containing ethidium bromide at any concentration must be collected in plastic bags (air dried, if possible) and tagged for EHS pickup.


Because these types of hazardous chemicals can cause special problems, procedures must be followed rigorously to prevent any type of exposure. Additional measures must be adopted because of the health and safety risks posed when handling acutely toxic chemicals. Staff members that are assigned to perform special operations or non-routine tasks that can involve potential exposure to especially hazardous chemicals must obtain prior approval from the supervising faculty and the laboratory safety manager. Especially hazardous chemicals include:

  1. Carcinogens and Select Carcinogens
    • Numerous chemicals are classified as carcinogenic. Designate appropriate areas for the storage and use of these toxic chemicals.
    • Develop appropriate decontamination procedures in the laboratory.
  2. Reproductive Toxins
    • These materials increase the potential for mutation (mutagens) or tend to cause development of malformations (teratogens).
    • Mutagenic and teratogenic potential is listed in the MSDS for a compound.
    • Elimination of potential ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact is important. Follow the safety practices outlined throughout this document when handling reproductive toxins.
    • Women of childbearing age handling embryo toxins must review the use of these materials with their laboratory safety manager. If an embryo toxin is used on a continuous basis, its dangers and the handling precautions required must be reviewed annually.
  3. Acutely Toxic Chemicals

    Acutely toxic chemicals are substances falling into the following categories:
    • A chemical that has a median lethal dose (LD50) of 50 mg or less per kilogram of body weight when administered to albino rats weighing 200 g to 300 g each.
    • A chemical that has a median lethal dose (LD50) of 2000 mg or less per kilogram of body weight, when administered by continuous contact for twenty-four hours (or less, if death occurs within twenty-four hours) to the bare skin of albino rabbits (2-3 kg in weight).
    • A chemical that has a median lethal concentration (LC50) in air of 200 parts per million or less by volume of gas or vapor or 2 mg or less per liter of mist, fume, or dust when administered by continuous inhalation for one hour (or less, if death occurs within one hour) to albino rats weighing 200 g to 300 g.
    • Refer to the MSDS for the LD50 of a chemical.


  • Prepare a plan for these chemicals and obtain prior approval from the supervisor and the laboratory safety manager before ordering any especially hazardous chemical.
  • Store especially hazardous chemicals in a well-ventilated, restricted area, posted with warning signs.
  • Refer to the MSDS for information about the appropriate personal protection and containment devices to use before handling especially hazardous chemicals.
  • Obtain specific information from MSDS concerning proper handling before working with such chemicals.
  • Avoid skin contact by wearing gloves at all times and replacing the gloves often or whenever they become contaminated.
  • Wash hands, face, forearms, and neck thoroughly after working with especially hazardous chemicals. Ensure that all personal protective equipment is removed and placed in a separately labeled container.
  • Do not work alone when especially hazardous materials are used.
  • Notify supervisors immediately of all incidents of exposure or spills. Consult a qualified physician when appropriate.
  • Post warning signs and restricted access signs on all areas and equipment where especially hazardous materials are used (e.g., fume hoods, glove boxes, rooms, biosafety cabinets, etc.).
  • Do not store acid-sensitive toxic chemicals, such as cyanides and sulfides, with acids.
  • Do not store highly toxic liquids or solids in quantities greater than one liter or four pounds.
  • When determined necessary by the laboratory safety manager, obtain specific training from EHS.


Anyone who is intending to use radioactive material or radiation-producing devices are required to have the appropriate radiation safety training. Call Environmental Health and Safety (402-472-4925) or view the EHS website ( for training dates and other relevant information. For specific radiation use information refer to appropriate Safe Operating Procedures ( You may also contact the Assistant RSO with questions relating to radiation safety, use, or training (402-472-8676).

Instructions for Personnel Entering Laboratories Containing Radioactive Materials , Security of Radioactive Materials at UNL, Sewer Disposal List SOP, Items/Materials Prohibited From Trash Cans/Dumpsters

  • The procedures for handling radioactive materials are covered by the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) in the Radiation Safety Manual. Everyone working in a laboratory where radioactive materials are used must be trained at the appropriate level by the RSO (Ag Warehouse #1, East Campus, 2-2155) or provide documentation that demonstrates previous training. The levels of training are defined as: frequenter, trainee, user, and authorized user.
  • The procedure for purchase or transfer of radioactive material is defined by the Radiation Safety Manual.
  • Shielding appropriate for the type of radioactivity must be used when handling or storing radioactive materials.
  • Any spill of radioactivity must be cleaned up using proper procedures until monitoring or wipe testing shows only background levels. Protection of personnel during the cleanup and proper disposal of the radioactive waste is mandatory. Major spills require notification of the RSO.
  • Confine activities with radioactive materials to a designated and clearly marked area. Storage areas for radioactive materials must be clearly marked.

Environmental Health & Safety Link

EHS provides a number of Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide additional and useful information.

View SOPs