Chapter 3: Written Standard Operating Procedures

Revised January 2023

Written Procedures

Written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) relevant to health and safety concerns are required for laboratory operations involving hazardous chemicals. This document contains SOPs covering various chemical hazards. Laboratory supervisors are responsible for developing additional laboratory-specific SOPs that cover the hazards present in their laboratory. The laboratory-specific SOPs should supplement, rather than duplicate, the general SOPs contained in this document. A risk-based approach should be used to identify laboratory-specific SOP topics. These SOPs should target the use of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, and highly acutely toxic chemicals (see Chapter 9), frequently performed procedures, and chemicals that are used frequently or in relatively large amounts. SOPs for higher risk, non-chemical hazards should also be developed.

Laboratory-specific SOPs are an important component of the laboratory-specific CHP and are to be included in each laboratory’s written program. All laboratory SOPs must be approved by the laboratory supervisor. Both an SOP template and an example SOP are available to assist laboratories in preparing their own SOPs. The following links provide additional examples of SOPs that have been developed at other institutions. These example SOPs can be used to develop SOPs for University laboratories but they must be customized so that they are directly applicable to the University laboratory for which they are intended, and fully compatible with this Plan and the University policies.

SOPs can be incorporated into lab protocols or they can be written as separate documents. The format of the SOPs can vary depending on need. For example, the scope of an SOP can cover:

  • The generic use of a specific chemical or class of chemicals with similar hazards (for example, mineral acids).
  • The specific use of a chemical or class of chemicals (such as a specific laboratory procedure).
  • A generic procedure (such as distillation) that covers several chemicals.

Regardless of the format, the following issues should be addressed in lab procedures or SOPs:

  • Describe the procedure and identify the chemicals to be used (as well as any reaction products or intermediates that are of concern).
  • Identify and evaluate health and physical hazards associated with the procedure (for example, reactivity, flammability, routes of exposure, toxicity, target organs, and health effects).
  • Identify workers that may be susceptible to any of the chemicals used (such as pregnant workers when teratogens are to be used).
  • Select appropriate control methods for the identified hazards (Chapter 12 and Chapter 13).
  • Prepare for contingencies such as spills or unexpected reactions (Chapter 19).
  • Provide for safe storage and disposal of chemicals (Chapter 16 and Chapter 20).

Chapter 4: Safe Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids