Cameron Students posing for a picture on Campus

General Student Guidelines

Procedures & Precautions Regarding CHEMICAL HAZARDS & HAZARD COMMUNICATION

It is important to know about the products and chemicals you are working with so you can protect yourself from overexposure and know procedures to take in the event of an emergency. The Oklahoma Hazard Communication Standard provides the following methods to identify potential chemical hazards.


Read everything on the label; it is there for a reason. Information found on a label includes:

  • chemical components
  • hazard or toxicity data, including a description of the hazard such as flammable or corrosive, and routes of entry
  • directions for proper use, storage, handling, and disposal
  • directions for treatment/first aid following accidental exposure or misuse
  • spill control procedures
  • recommended protective equipment

Every container in the work area must be labeled with the chemical or product name, the chemical constituents of the product, and an appropriate hazard warning. All containers should be labeled with this information upon receipt from a vendor - if they are not, contact your instructor or the EHSO to determine why or what can be done. Labels on containers should not be defaced or removed while the chemical is still in the container.

If a chemical has a damaged or missing label, alert your instructor so that appropriate labeling can occur.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

Manufacturers are required to submit safety data sheets (SDSs) for products sold to the University. SDSs contain detailed information about the hazards of the chemical. SDSs also contain a 24-hour emergency number should additional information be required.

An SDS should be available for every hazardous chemical present in the work area. If one is not available, ask your instructor or contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) at 581-2222.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Diamond

The NFPA Diamond is a symbol system designed for facilities to inform emergency responders of the types and quantities of hazardous materials stored or used in a facility. Three of the four diamonds provide a rating of the hazards in health (blue), flammability (red), and reactivity (yellow). The rating is from 0 (least hazardous) to 4 (most hazardous). The fourth diamond (white) provides special information such as radioactivity or water reactivity.


Basic laboratory safety rules are as follows.

  1. No running, jumping, or horseplay is permitted in laboratories.
  2. All biohazardous, hazardous, and radioactive materials must be properly labeled and stored. Chemical fume hoods or biological safety cabinets are not appropriate storage locations. Use flammable and acid storage cabinets and explosion-proof refrigerators when appropriate.
  3. Stairways, hallways, exits, and access to emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, safety showers, and eyewash fountains must be kept clear.
  4. No eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or smoking is allowed in areas where hazardous materials are stored or used.
  5. Always thoroughly wash your hands before eating or smoking, on completion of work, and after manipulating radioisotopes.
  6. Do not store food or drinks in refrigerators, freezers, or containers designated for chemical, biohazardous, or radioactive storage.
  7. Compressed gas cylinders must be secured at all times, including during transport and when empty. Cylinder caps must be in place when the cylinder is not in use.
  8. Do not work alone in a laboratory.
  9. Laboratory coats and other protective clothing worn in the laboratory area are not to be worn outside the laboratory.
  10. Sandals, open-toed, or perforated shoes should not be worn in the laboratory. 
  11. Do not pipette by mouth.
  12. Never dispose of a hazardous, biohazardous, or radioactive substance down the drain or in the trash.
  13. Radioactive material usage areas and animal facilities must have controlled access that is strictly enforced. Laboratory areas should not be left unattended unless the area has been secured.
  14. Report any accidental exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or injection), injury, or spills to your instructor immediately.


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen regulation covers employees with occupational exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious material, including human tissues and human cell lines used in laboratory procedures.

While the regulation does not cover students unless they are paid, students should follow the precautions outlined by the regulation to ensure protection from potentially infectious materials. These precautions include the following.

  1. Universal precautions should be observed to prevent contact with human blood or other potentially infectious material. Universal precautions, as developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that all human blood and certain body fluids should be treated as if infectious for hepatitis B, HIV, and/or other bloodborne pathogens. 
  2. Hospital procedures require the use of “standard precautions” which includes wearing gloves for protection against blood and all body fluids, secretions, and excretions except sweat, regardless of whether or not they contain visible blood.
  3. Personal protective equipment should be used where the potential for exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials exists as follows:
    1. Gloves should be worn when hand contact with blood or other potentially infectious material is likely to occur.
    2. Face protection (masks and safety glasses or face shields) should be worn whenever splashes of blood or other infectious material to the eye, nose, or mouth can be reasonably expected.
    3. Protective clothing (gowns, surgical caps, shoe covers etc.) should be worn when exposure to those parts if the body may be anticipated.
  4. All garments should be removed as soon as possible if penetrated by blood or other potentially infectious material. Do not take them home to wash them. Notify your instructor if contamination occurs.
  5. All personal protective equipment should be removed before leaving the work area and placed in a designated area.
  6. Handwashing should occur immediately or as soon as feasible after removal of gloves, after contamination, and after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.
  7. Do not recap or remove contaminated needles.
  8. Contaminated sharps should be placed in appropriate containers which are puncture resistant, labeled or color-coded (red or red/orange), and leak-proof on the sides and bottom.
  9. Eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or lip balm, and handling contact lenses is prohibited in areas where exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials may occur.
  10. Food or drink should not be stored in areas where blood or other potentially infectious materials are present.
  11. Procedures should be used which minimize spraying, splashing, spattering, and generation of droplets of infectious material.
  12. No mouth pipetting should occur.
  13. Specimens of blood should be placed in a labeled or color-coded container which prevents leakage during collection, storage, transport, or shipping. 
  14. All equipment and working surfaces should be decontaminated after contact with blood or potentially infectious material.
  15. Students who have the potential for exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials are strongly encouraged to receive the hepatitis B vaccination series.


Eye Protection

Eye protection is required whenever there is the potential for flying particles or splash of a hazardous or infectious material. This applies not only to persons who work continuously in these areas, but also to persons who may be in the area only temporarily.

The type of eye protection required depends on the hazard. Regular eyeglasses are not sufficient. For most situations, safety glasses with side shields are adequate. Other additional protective devices should be used in the following situations.

  • Potential chemical splash - splash goggle with splash-proof sides.
  • Potential splash of highly corrosive material - face shield and splash goggles.
  • Flying particles - impact protection goggles.
  • Laser, ultraviolet, infrared, or intense visible light - specialized protection for the wavelength of light present.
  • If chemical vapors or liquids contact the eyes, these steps should be followed:
  • If wearing contact lenses, immediately remove the lenses.
  • Continuously flush the eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  • The instructor or laboratory supervisor should be notified and arrangements should be made to provide medical assistance.
  • Someone knowledgeable about the incident should accompany the injured person to the medical facility and a copy of any appropriate SDS(s) should accompany the victim if hazardous materials are involved.

After use, eye protection equipment should be cleaned prior to reuse.


Unless the worker is wearing a laboratory coat, loose or torn clothing should be avoided due to the potential for ignitability, absorption, and entanglement in machinery. Remove dangling jewelry and pull back excessively long hair, which can pose the same type of safety hazard. Finger rings or other tight jewelry which cannot be easily removed should be avoided because of the danger of corrosive or irritating liquids getting underneath the piece and producing irritation. Rings can also puncture gloves.

Laboratory coats should be worn when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Laboratory coats worn in the laboratory area for protection against hazardous or infectious material should not be worn outside the laboratory (this is especially true of cadaver laboratories).

Shoes must be worn at all times when working with hazardous or infectious materials. Sandals, open-toed shoes, and perforated shoes should not be worn because of the danger of spillage of corrosive or irritating chemicals and the potential of cuts from broken glassware.


Protective gloves must be worn when a potential skin exposure exists or where there is a potential for accidental spills or contamination. There is no glove currently available that will protect against all chemicals. Read the label, SDS, or literature provided by glove manufacturers to select the proper glove.

General recommendations are as follows.

  • For concentrated acids and alkalis or organic solvents, natural rubber, neoprene, or nitrile gloves are recommended.
  • For handling hot objects, gloves made of heat-resistant materials should be available and kept near the vicinity of ovens or muffle furnaces. A hot object should never be picked up with rubber, plastic, or asbestos gloves.
  • For handling very cold objects such as liquid N2 or CO2, special insulated gloves should be worn.
  • For handling potentially infectious materials, nitrile or powder-free latex gloves should be used.

Gloves should be inspected before each use for discoloration, punctures, and tears. Before removal, non-disposable gloves should be thoroughly washed, either with tap water or soap and water. Contaminated gloves should be removed in such a manner as to limit contamination of the hands from the soiled gloves. Hands should always be washed after removal of gloves, regardless of whether they have obvious contamination. Always remove gloves before leaving the immediate work site to prevent contamination of door knobs, light switches, telephones, etc.


The use of N-95 respirators is required when in the presence of known or suspected tuberculosis patients (surgical masks are not acceptable). Most hospitals and clinics provide disposable respirators for this purpose.

Particulate respirators should be used when dust is generated, such as during grinding operations. Respirator use for chemical exposures is usually not required if adequate precautions are taken.

Please contact the EHSO at 580-581-2222 if you are asked to wear a respirator. Fit testing the respirator and special training is required if respirators are worn.