A laboratory environment contains highly varied potential hazards to people who work there and to the environment. Potential hazards can be physical (fire, electrical), chemical (flammable, toxic, reactive, corrosive), biological, radiological, or any combination of these, over a wide spectrum of severity.
The regulatory framework of every Laboratory Safety Program includes worker safety (federal OSHA Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, commonly known as the OSHA “Lab Standard”) and environmental protection (federal EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). In New York City, the FDNY has promulgated specific regulations for fire prevention in labs (PDF).
At Lehman College, Laboratory Safety is a multifaceted program that includes worker training, hazardous/regulated waste management, annual lab audits, radiation safety, biological safety, and fume hood certifications. The program changes as laboratory activities evolve and new potential hazards are introduced. The goal is to ensure a safe laboratory work environment and to minimize the environmental impact of laboratory activities.
To minimize the risk of such events the University has developed the CUNY Laboratory Safety Manual (PDF).. This manual contains information on existing federal, state, and local regulatory standards regarding laboratory safety that campuses are obligated to follow, as well as to offer some valuable “best practices”.