Controlling exposure to hazardous and highly toxic materials in the laboratory were discussed. Factors necessary for creating an environment where highly toxic chemicals can be handled safely were considered. These included proper planning and providing employees with adequate and appropriate equipment. It is noted that even with these resources, a safe work environment cannot be achieved unless management can instill in the employees a positive attitude toward safety. An employee's acceptance and commitment to a safety program is said to be influenced in part by his background, training, and experience; however, the attitude of management, especially that of the supervisor, is considered to be the most influential in instilling a positive attitude toward safety in the employees. Planning was very important when working with highly toxic materials. The author recommends that tasks involving toxic materials be outlined, and procedures that could involve contamination and potential exposure should be identified. The proper equipment should be available. Laboratory fume hoods are considered to be the primary defense against highly toxic chemicals. Highly toxic agents such as aflatoxins or dioxins should be handled only within enclosed systems. Good personal protective equipment (safety glasses, laboratory coats, protective gloves, and a refrigerator) is considered to be the second line of defense against toxic agents. Laboratory operations that most frequently result in contamination included opening of closed vessels, transfer operations, mixing or blending, using syringes, centrifuging, vortexing open vessels, and spills and accidents.
Symposium on Control of Workplace Hazards in the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, March 11-12, 1981, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio