Standard operating procedures (SOPs) incorporating safety and health considerations must be developed and followed when laboratory work involves the use of hazardous chemicals, especially "particularly hazardous substances", which include select carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and acutely toxic chemicals. SOPs are written instructions that detail the steps to be performed during a given experimental procedure and include information about potential hazards and how these hazards will be mitigated. SOPs should be written by laboratory personnel who are most knowledgeable and involved with the experimental process.

Consider the following information when developing an SOP:

  • Type, quantity, and nature of the chemical used. Note that the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) lists important information regarding potential hazards that will need to be considered, such as toxicity, flammability, reactivity, warning properties, and symptoms of exposure.
  • Location of use, including fume hood or other containment devices. Include specifically designated work areas for "particularly hazardous substances."
  • Experimental procedures that include safety measures to reduce exposure.
  • Available safety equipment, including personal protective equipment.
  • Waste collection, storage, and disposal requirements.
  • Decontamination procedures.

If a new chemical is produced during the experiment, an SDS may not be available. Every effort should be made to evaluate potential hazards based on analogy to similar compounds or expected structural features of the chemical. When the potential toxicity is unknown, it must be assumed that the substance is "particularly hazardous."

Circumstances requiring prior approval from the PI/Laboratory Supervisor must be addressed in laboratory-specific SOPs. These circumstances are based on the inherent hazards of the material being used, the hazards associated with the experimental process, the experience level of the worker, and the scale of the experiment. Some examples of circumstances that may require prior approval include working alone in a laboratory, unattended or overnight operations, the use of highly toxic gas of any amount, the use of large quantities of toxic or corrosive gases, the use of extremely reactive chemicals (e.g., pyrophorics, water reactive chemicals), or the use of carcinogens.


Submit SOPs to REHS for review and documentation. For certain hazardous chemicals or specialized practices, consideration must be given to whether additional consultation with safety professionals is warranted or required.

Keep your updated SOPs in your lab's Chemical Hygiene Guide.

SOP-Specific Training

All researchers using a specified chemical or process must be trained on the relevant SOP, and this training must be recorded. Training can be documented by completing the signature page at the end of the SOP. SOPs must be available to all laboratory personnel.

Chemicals For Which Safe Work Practice Standard Operating Procedures Are Available (word docs)

Directions - save SOP to your computer, then update and tailor for your specific process. Have the PI review it and then contact REHS for final approval.


Campus Health Safety Specialists, or call (848) 445-2550