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NC State University Safety Plan Program


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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. 

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
Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories

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


Intended Use of Safety Plans

  • Emergency planning and response:  used by emergency response personnel and communicates information about the major hazards in the area that may impact emergency response 
  • Inspections:  determine both the frequency of laboratory/facility inspections and if process safety reviews are required
  • Hazard Awareness:  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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 is also a training tool to help protecting employees from specific health hazards in work environment and to keep exposure below limits specified by OSHA.

Availability and Posting Requirements

This document provides the background information required to establish safe working practices for hazardous material/processes use and handling. The responsibility for implementation and enforcement of safe work practices is the responsibility of the principal investigator of each laboratory. This document functions as both a training tool and a reference source.  A printed version of the latest fully approved safety plan must be prominently available in the facility near the main means of egress.


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. These areas include:

  • General Area and Contact Information (cover sheet)
  • Safety Information for Controlling Exposures
  • Hazardous Processes or Procedures
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Attachments to include evacuation routes/maps
  • Chemical Inventories
  • Target Chemicals and Target Equipment Checklists
  • Department of Homeland Security Target Chemical Listings
  • Supervisor Self-Audit Checklist
  • Facilities Emergency Closure Planning Checklist
  • Supervisor Final Signature, Declarations and Assurances

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

  • Specific chemicals of use: all chemicals and associated by-products must be listed
  • 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 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
  • 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. Additional information on ventilation controls
  • 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; Additional guidance on storage
  • Emergency response/decontamination procedures: Indicate how spills or accidental releases will be handled and by whom.  Campus Police should be contacted if additional emergency assistance is required. Additional guidance on emergencies
  • Hazards – indicate the hazard category (the potentially affected body part) and the hazard type (source of hazard – burn, cut, heat, impact, etc)
  • Personnel protective equipment- indicate all PPE and hygiene considerations for each process; Additional guidance on PPE: examples include:

This section of the safety plan allows for direct uploading of files (MS Office 2003 version only)

1- Evacuation Plan/Map
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.
Additional guidance for evacuation planning
Additional guidance for persons with disability

2- Chemical Inventory
Complete the chemical inventory template; include any gas cylinders.  All submissions must use the MS Excel template provided; include the plan number, principal investigator name and lab location (building and room)

Safety Plan Checklists

1-     Target Chemicals – This checklist is used to determine the location and use of these chemicals plus provide a means of communication regarding safety issues associated with its use.

2-     Target equipment - This 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, additional guidance for Hazard Review

3-     Department of Homeland Security Chemical Anti-Terrorism Standard Checklist - 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.

4-     Security Checklist - The security checklist is a verification of the security and safety measures your area has taken to ensure the security of hazardous material.

5-     Final Signature Checklist: 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.

a.  Supervisor Self-audit Checklist Certification This form is used to acknowledge that everything in the safety plan is accurate and complete, the PI has or will fill out the self-audit checklist and verify they are doing what is needed to minimize hazardous waste.
b .Emergency Facilities Closure 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.


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.

Health and Safety Practices

Checklist for Employee Safety Training: Use this form to review with ALL new employees on their first day of work, prior to work activities. The supervisor, employee/student must sign the form. A copy should be given to the employee/student and the original should be returned to the departmental secretary.

Biological Agents

For the use of biological agents, toxins or recombinant work

  • Registration of Research with Microorganisms, Oncogens and Toxins
  • Reporting Recombinant DNA Research

Radioactive material or x-ray producing devices

For the application and approval to use Radiation related research

  • Radioactive materials (unsealed and sealed sources)
  • Radiation producing devices


Useful Information

Medical Consultation and Medical Examinations (Additional guidance on access)

NC State University shall provide employees who work with hazardous chemicals an opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow-up examinations which the examining physician determines to be necessary, when:

  • An employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical exposure
  • Exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the monitoring action level for an OSHA regulated substance
  • A spill, leak, explosion, or other event occurs, resulting in the likelihood of a hazardous exposure

Forms are available for Access to Medical Surveillance Services and Consultation