Laboratory Requirements for Chemical Standard Operating Procedures

Laboratory Requirements for Chemical Standard Operating Procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires standard operating procedures covering health and safety considerations for any work with hazardous chemicals in laboratories.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) describes how your lab will safely handle a hazardous chemical, including the amount and concentration you will use, how to obtain or create the working solution, special handling procedures, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment.

Operations Requiring Approval

Prior approval must be obtained from the Principal Investigator (PI), laboratory supervisor or Instructor for designated activities that present specific foreseeable hazards to laboratory personnel.  Review the information below regarding chemicals that require an approved Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Laboratory personnel must be trained in the safe use of designated chemicals prior to beginning activities with them. Other general considerations regarding operations requiring prior approval:

  • Unattended Operations
  • Working Alone

General Chemical SOPs & Guidelines

Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) has developed the Chemical Hygiene Manual, SOPs, chemical safety guidelines and other EHRS published materials that provide general guidelines for chemical and physical hazards commonly found in University Laboratories. These are located on the EHRS website and throughout the Chemical Hygiene Manual and specify the minimum controls for the safe use of hazardous materials and equipment at the University.  Many of these documents can be used in the format provided without modification by the lab. Requirements for laboratory-specific SOPS are indicated below.

Refer to the EHRS Library for General Chemical SOPs & Guidelines.

Laboratory-Specific SOPs

Laboratory-specific, customized SOPs must be created for chemicals or procedures that pose unique hazards, including all chemicals meeting the criteria for high hazard substances (HHS) or when additional information on necessary actions that need to be taken to safely work with a chemical.   

Circumstances requiring prior approval from PI, laboratory supervisor or instructor must be addressed in laboratory-specific SOPs.   Laboratory-specific SOPs should be reviewed annually.    

A comprehensive hazard assessment of the laboratory must be conducted prior to developing and implementing laboratory-specific SOPs.  Refer to CHE001-SOP-Development of a High Hazard Operating procedure (HHOP) for additional information on developing a laboratory specific SOP and/or HHOP.

High Hazard Substances (HHS)

High hazard substances present extreme hazards to personnel and environment and requires the development and implementation of a Laboratory-Specific SOP even for a single event where they are used.  The High Hazard Operating Procedure (HHOP) template developed by EHRS serves as a tool to coordinate the information into succinct procedures, and facilitates review with and by laboratory personnel.

Refer to High Hazard Substance Requiring a High Hazard Operating Procedure (HHOP) for information and the criteria for determining which chemicals are classified as a HHS. 


The HHOP template may be used to document laboratory-specific SOPs.  Laboratories may use other formats as long as they include all the relevant information from all of the sections included in HHOP template.  In fact, EHRS encourages laboratories to incorporate safety procedures into their existing experimental protocols. As long as the protocol includes information for all of the relevant sections from the HHOP template in a user-friendly format, there is no need for a separate safety SOP unless it is useful to the lab for training purposes.

SOP-Specific Training

All laboratory personnel using a specified chemical or process must be trained on the relevant general chemical SOP & guidelines, laboratory-specific SOP and this training must be recorded. Laboratory-specific training can be documented by completing the signature page at the end of the SOP.


General chemical SOPs, laboratory-specific SOPs and applicable training records must be available to all laboratory personnel and upon request by EHRS, Regulatory agencies and other University personnel.   


Chemical Hygiene Manual

ACS "Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories” Document

ACS-Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories

ACS Chemical & Laboratory Safety-Hazard Assessment

ACS-Chemical & Laboratory Safety SOP Development

Chemical Safety Resources Library