Working in the Lab

Before beginning laboratory research, all personnel must do the following:

  • Read the BE Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  • Update the Training Needs Assessment through the MIT Learning Center.
  • Receive chemical safety training either online or through classroom training. Use the MIT Learning Center to access web training or to sign up for classroom training.  Course to complete include:
    • General Chemical Hygiene 
    • Managing Hazardous Waste 
  • Complete Laboratory Specific Chemical Hygiene Training. This is generally provided the EHS Representative for the lab space where work will be conducted.
  • Submit the BE Clearance Form  to Mary Lindstrom, the EHS Coordinator for DMSE, in 56-341d (marylindstrom@mit.edu).

Safe Lab Practices

All personnel under the BE Chemical Hygiene Plan must practice safe laboratory practices as described below. Failure to comply these regulations may lead to dismissal.

  • No food, beverage, tobacco product, or medicine is to be inhaled, ingested, or injected in any laboratory. No food, beverage, tobacco product or medical wrappers or containers may be carried into or discarded in any laboratory.
  • Work only with materials when you know their flammability, reactivity, toxicity, safe handling, disposal, and emergency procedures.
  • You must have a copy of an approved Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prior to use of particularly hazardous substances. Particularly hazardous substances include reproductive toxins, substances that have and oral LD50 of less than 50 mg/kg, a skin contact LD50 of less than 200 mg/kg, an inhalation LC50 of less than 200 ppm/air, and select carcinogens (as defined by the OSHA health standards 29 CFR part 1910; see Appendix M, page 95). SOPs must include a description of the health hazard, flammability, reactivity, chemical incompatibilities, appropriate precautions, proper disposal, and action to be taken in case of exposure or a spill.
  • Substances designated as "particularly hazardous" must be labeled with a red dot sticker. Toxicity warning signs or symbols must be prominently visible on containers of particularly hazardous substances.
  • Laboratory coats and gloves must be worn when handling hazardous chemicals, BL2 or higher biologicals, and open sources of radioactivity.
  • Always remove gloves (even if you think they are clean!) before touching computer keyboards, computer mice, door handles and telephones. If it is necessary to keep a glove on to transport a hazardous material in the hallway, remove a glove from one hand in order to open doors or use a clean paper towel.
  • All procedures involving volatile materials or aerosols of a toxic or flammable nature must be performed in an exhausting hood.
  • To minimize the risk of eye injury, it is recommended that eye protection be worn on a regular basis. Certified safety glasses with side shields or goggles are absolutely required in the following situations:
    • When handling corrosive, particularly hazardous, or radioactive substances that could cause eye injury;
    • When performing chemical operations that could explode or implode;
    • When in a room where there is a reasonable danger of eye injury from flying particles/objects.
  •  Due to risk of flying objects, certified safety glasses are absolutely required in the following rooms: 56-638 (west half), 654 (east half), 663, 686, 670, 691, 16-775. Access to safety glasses must be available outside these rooms for use by visitors.​
  • Hazardous materials in breakable containers must be contained within a shatter-proof secondary container during transportation (e.g., when carrying ethanol down a hallway).
  • All hazardous waste containers require a red tag and all contents must be written out in English (no chemical abbreviations; red tags are available from the Safety Office, 3-4637). Waste containers must be stored in satellite accumulation areas. There can be no more than one container with the same type of waste in one satellite accumulation area. Lids to hazardous waste containers must always be kept closed, unless in use (one cannot leave an area with an open hazardous waste container).
  • All sharp materials (e.g. needles, glass pipettes, broken glass, and razor blades) must be disposed of in a sharps container (available from EHS). These must be sealed and placed in burn boxes for disposal. Sharps contaminated with hazardous chemicals must be collected in puncture-proof containers labeled with red tags.
  • Perform a safety check after each experiment. Make sure gas, water, flames, vacuum, and hot plates are turned off. Decontaminate your work area after using biohazards.
  • Wash hands before leaving the laboratory.
  • Exits and passageways must be kept clear at all times. Know the locations of fire extinguishers, emergency wash facilities, fire alarm pull stations, telephones and emergency exits.

Safety Data Sheets

The MIT Safety Office provides this site to find links to Data Safety Sheets. All laboratories under the BE CHP are required to have on file SDSs for all hazardous substances that are used.


Carcinogen Information

Agencies that List "Known" and "Likely" Carcinogens:
-  National Toxicology Program Carcinogen Report
-  International Agency for Research and Cancer