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Hazard Reviews/Risk Assessment

Hazard reviews/Risk Assessment are used to determine if there are potential hazards and risks involved with a procedure. These evaluations are:

  • required by federal law
  • standard practice in industry
  • protect laboratory workers and facilities

When Should I Conduct a Hazard Review?
The PI/Laboratory Supervisor should review and give approval to proceed with a laboratory task whenever:
1.    There is a new procedure, process or test, even if it is similar to older practices.
2.    There is a change, substitution, or deletion of any of the ingredient chemicals in a procedure.
3.    There is a substantial change (25% or more) in the quantity of chemicals used.
4.    There is a failure of any of the equipment used in the process, especially such safeguards as fume hoods or clamp apparatus.
5.    There are unexpected test results, in which case a review of how the new result impacts safety practices must be made.
6.    When members of the laboratory staff become ill, suspect exposure, detect a chemical's odor, or otherwise suspect a failure of any safeguards.

How Do I Conduct a Hazard Review/Risk Assessment?
Step 1: Before you begin the hazard/risk assessment, you will need to know:

Step 2: You will also need to know what the exposure potential to these materials are, including:

  • Amount of material used
  • Dispersion Potential (Volatility, Dustiness)
  • Operating Temperature
  • Frequency of Use
  • Safety controls available

This information will not always be available for all the hazardous materials and processes in the procedure. It is possible to group these during a risk assessment based on prior knowledge

  • Assign categories of risk to some or all chemicals (carcinogens, reproductive toxics, acutely toxics, explosives, unstable processes, pyrophoric materials), apparatus and equipment.
  • Apparatus under high vacuum, heated oil baths, ultra-centrifuges, NMR equipment and high temperature ovens are classified as presenting a greater risk compared with other apparatus and equipment.
  • Vacuum distillations, Class III and IV lasers, radioactive materials, unstable or explosive chemicals, highly toxic, reproductive hazards and carcinogens are high risk.

Step 3: Evaluate the risk: Hazard + Exposure = Risk

The level of risk can be assessed using "What if ?"

  • There is a potential failure or misoperation of the procedure.
  • There is equipment failure, human error or external events including utility interruptions.

That if the assessment shows that the risk is too great?

  • Consider ways to lower the hazards, exposures or risks by:
  • Substitute hazardous chemical for a less hazardous alternative.
  • Reduce the quantity to lessen the intensity of any hazardous condition. Work with a few grams or a fraction of a gram.
  • Purchase and use dilute solutions instead of concentrated solutions.
  • Replace equipment requiring 120 volts AC with equipment that will run on 24 volts AC.
  • Reduce buildup of static charge by grounding the containers or apparatus involved.
  • Use lower temperatures instead of higher temperatures.

Use these forms to help in conducting a hazard assessment for your procedures:

Hazard Review/Risk Assessment forms the basis for developing a Standard Operating Procedure.

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