Research Policy Handbook


Chemical Hygiene Plan and Chemical Hazard Communication

Policy Contact

Now in Policy Details

Summarizes key components of the Chemical Hygiene Plan for Laboratories, an element of Stanford's Chemical Hazard Communication Policy.

1. Introduction

Federal, state, and local regulations require employers to inform employees about the potential hazards of chemicals to which they may come in contact in the workplace or laboratory. Stanford's Chemical Hazard Communication Policy expands this requirement to include students and the University's Chemical Hygiene Plan addresses these requirements in laboratories.

The Chemical Hazard Communication Policy and Program applies to all workplaces and is included within the University's overall program of Injury and Illness Prevention (Research Policy Handbook document 7.2). For laboratories, the relevant part of the University's Chemical Hazard Communication Program is the Chemical Hygiene Plan. The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) provides for and supports the procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment, and work practices for protecting laboratory personnel from potential health hazards of using hazardous chemicals in the laboratory and to comply with California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA)

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) works with academic departments and faculty to develop local programs for the safe use of chemicals.

It is Stanford University policy that information concerning the particular hazards which may be posed, and the methods by which they can use these materials in a safe and healthful manner, be available to all faculty, staff, and students who use hazardous chemicals in either the workplace or in laboratories.

2. Chemical Hygiene Plan for Laboratories

Stanford has developed and implemented a written Chemical Hygiene Plan, found as a PDF below in "Related Items", which includes the following elements:

A. Designation of Responsibility for Implementation

PIs/Laboratory Supervisors are responsible for the health and safety of laboratory personnel doing work in his/her laboratory.

Provisions for personnel working autonomously are described in section 10.3 of the CHP.

The University has designated a Chemical Hygiene Officer within the Department of Environmental Health & Safety to administer and oversee the institutional implementation of the CHP. The Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health & Safety is the cognizant administrator of environmental health and safety programs at the University.

B. Information and Training

Per Section 10.0 of the CHP, laboratory personnel are to receive chemical safety information and training, both general and laboratory-specific, at the time of initial assignment to the laboratory, and prior to assignments involving exposure situations, work with Particularly Hazardous Substances, and hazardous operations.

Information on the provision of general and laboratory-specific chemical safety training is available.

C. Standard Operating Procedures

PIs/Lab Supervisors are responsible for establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) relevant to health and safety for laboratory activities he/she directs involving hazardous substances.

SU’s Laboratory Chemical Safety Toolkit provides guidance on prioritization of SOP development, templates for creating SOPs, and generic SOPs for the major classes of hazardous substances.

D. Control Measures

Methods used to minimize exposures to hazardous chemicals includes a hierarchy of control elements including substitution, engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment as described in Section 3.0 of the CHP.

E. Prior Approval and Consultation

Prior approval by the PI/Lab Supervisor is required for chemical usage involving SU Restricted Chemicals (i.e., Toxic Gases regulated by Santa Clara County and Dimethylmercury) as described in Section 5.1 of the CHP.

Laboratory personnel should consult with PI/Lab Supervisor on higher risk chemical usage and operations so that special safety precautions can be taken where appropriate as described in section 5.3 of the CHP.

F. Fume Hood Operations

SU’s Laboratory Chemical Safety Toolkit provides information on the application and safe use of laboratory-type fume hoods.

Performance and certification criteria for fume hoods are available below in "Related Items".

G. Medical Consultation, Exams and Surveillance

Stanford University’s Occupational Health Center (SUOHC) is a campus-based medical clinic that offers evaluation and treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses, work-related preventive medical services, and OSHA and departmentally-mandated medical surveillance programs for university staff. 

Laboratory personnel who work with hazardous chemicals will be provided the opportunity to receive medical attention/consultation when:

  • symptoms or signs of exposure to a hazardous chemical develop
  • exposure monitoring reveals an overexposure
  • a spill, leak, explosion or other occurrence results in a hazardous exposure (potential overexposure)
  • a regulatory standard triggers medical surveillance

SUOHC is located at:

Environmental Safety Facility (ESF) 480 Oak Road, Room B15 Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: (650) 725-5308 Fax: (650) 725-9218

Additional information on the SUOHC is available at:

H. Additional Protections

Section 5.3.b of the CHP directs Principle Investigators/Lab supervisors to provide for additional protection to laboratory personnel for work with particularly hazardous substances (i.e., select carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and substances that have a high degree of acute toxicity).

3. Additional Requirements of the University's Overall Hazard Communication Program

Warning Labels

Per Stanford University’s Hazard Communication Program and 8 CCR 5194, containers of hazardous substances received from a manufacturer or leaving the University shall be labeled to inform personnel of:

  • The identity of the hazardous substance
  • Appropriate hazard warnings
  • Name and address of the manufacturer, importer or responsible party

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

A MSDS is a detailed informational document prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical.  It describes the physical and chemical properties of the product. MSDS’s contain useful information such as toxicity, flash point, procedures for spills and leaks, and storage guidelines.

Stanford University personnel may access MSDSs at

Hazardous Chemical Inventory/Life Safety Boxes

University laboratories, departments, and shops are required to maintain an inventory of hazardous substances present in their areas.

View information on The University’s chemical inventory program.

As part of the University’s overall hazard communication program, Life Safety Boxes are established outside each laboratory and shop; these boxes contain a report of the quantities of each main hazard class present in the room, a room map indicating the location of hazardous materials in the room, and emergency contact. Stickers indicating the hazards the present in the work area are affixed to the Lab Safety Box.


Stanford University’s Department of Environmental Health & Safety Chemical Safety Website which includes: