Three basic methods of protection from chemical hazards exist: engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and administrative controls. Engineering controls are systems and equipment designed to prevent or decrease contact with a chemical. Examples include chemical fume hoods, ventilation fans, and secondary containers. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing that is resistant to specific chemicals and acts as a barrier between the wearer and the chemical he or she is handling. Administrative controls are limitations imposed by supervisors to ensure exposures are minimized or eliminated. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that appropriate controls are in place and used. EH&S should be consulted as needed.
Engineering controls are considered the most effective form of exposure control. Before beginning a process or procedure, consider engineering controls that will decrease chemical exposure or risk of harm.
Examples include grounding and bonding when transferring flammable liquids; using exhaust ventilation to decrease vapor concentration when using a volatile chemical; and storing hazardous chemicals in cabinets according to hazard class.
PPE should be worn for protection from hazardous chemicals whenever contact is possible. PPE includes: gloves, safety glasses, face shields, Tyvek suits, labcoats, etc. The use of powdered latex gloves is prohibited.
A respirator should only be used while engineering controls are being installed or upgraded, or when engineering controls are not a feasible option. If respirators are deemed necessary, EH&S must be contacted to determine the correct respirator and provide fit testing, training, and medical screening for users.
PPE must be selected according to the chemical hazard involved. Additional information on PPE is available in Chapter III, Laboratory Chemical Hygiene.
Administrative controls should be used to limit exposure durations. The most common example of administrative control is rotation of workers to minimize the length of time a worker is exposed to a certain chemical. This form of control should only be used under well-documented conditions and after engineering controls have first been considered or used.