Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Guidelines for Preparing SOP's

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written procedures explaining how to safely work with hazardous chemicals or safely complete a hazardous process.

Different methods can be used to write an SOP

SOPs may be written according to:

Hazardous Chemical
Ethidium bromide, acrylamide, methylene chloride, formaldehyde

Process Involved
Distillation, extraction, column chromatography

Hazardous Chemical Class
Flammable liquids, corrosive materials, cryogenic materials

Each SOP should contain the following information

Contact Information: PI name, location of use/process (building and room #), and contact information.

Process Information: Describe the process that is being conducted. For a hazardous chemical, name the hazardous chemical that the SOP is being developed for. For a process, describe the process, list all chemicals that will be used in the process. For a hazardous chemical class, describe the hazards associated with a particular group of chemicals and list the chemicals being used in the laboratory.

Describe the Potential Hazards of the Process or Chemical: Include physical and health hazards such as, fire, explosion, burns to skin, toxic fume generation, and suspected carcinogen. Include information about acute health effects and chronic health effects.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Identify the required level of personal protective equipment and hygiene practices needed for each hazardous chemical, process, or hazard class. Eye protection must be made available to all employees and visitors to the lab. Skin and body protection involves the use of PPE to protect against chemical exposure.  Personal protective equipment includes, but is not limit to: gloves, aprons, lab coats, safety glasses, chemical splash goggles, and face shields.

Engineering Controls: Describe the engineering controls that will be used to prevent or reduce employee exposure to hazardous chemicals. This includes ventilation devices such as fume hoods, glove boxes, biosafety cabinets, and etc.

Special Handling Procedures and Storage Requirements: List storage requirements for the hazardous chemicals involved in the SOP, including specific storage areas, storage according to compatibility and policies regarding access to chemicals. Special procedures such as dating peroxide forming chemicals upon receipt and opening and testing for peroxide formation after the appropriate date.

Spill and Accident Procedures: Indicate how spills or accidental releases will be handled and by whom. List the location of appropriate emergency equipment such as spill kits, eye wash and drench shower locations,and fire extinguishers. Identify the location of emergency response phone numbers and list First Aid measures to be taken in the event of an accident.

Waste Disposal Procedures: All hazardous waste must be containerized and disposed of through the EH&S office.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Location: Lab personnel must have access to the SDS for each chemical used in the laboratory. Also, indicate the location of other pertinent safety information such as equipment manuals and chemical references.


What is a Chemical Hygiene Plan and Standard Operating Procedures?

OSHA recognized the need for a regulation that focused on the unique nature of laboratory work; thus, the Laboratory Standard (29CFR1910.1450) was developed. This performance oriented rule is intended to provide laboratories with the flexibility of implementing safe work practices and procedures specific to their workplace while at the same time reaching the important goal of reducing workplace accidents and injuries. The written Chemical Hygiene Plan is the core of the laboratory safety standard and affords flexibility in providing the type of worker protection appropriate for a specific workplace.

According to the Lab Standard, the Chemical Hygiene Plan must be capable of protecting employees from health hazards associated with work conducted in that laboratory. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is the mechanism by which safety and health considerations are conveyed to the laboratory worker. Standard Operating Procedures, developed by the principal investigator, should establish appropriate work practices, methods of control, measures for the use and maintenance of personal protective equipment, and special precautions for work with particularly hazardous substances or processes.

How do I prepare a Standard Operating Procedure?

The first step to completing a Standard Operating Procedure is to IDENTIFY the particularly hazardous chemicals and procedures in your laboratory. A chemical is considered particularly hazardous if it is an allergen, acutely toxic, a reproductive toxin, a carcinogen, a regulated chemical, or is physically hazardous (e.g. extremely flammable, highly reactive, cryogens). Identify hazardous operations being conducted in your lab: for instance, use of centrifuges, use of compressed gas cylinders, equipment that employs the use of flammable liquids, or pressurized systems.

The second step to completing a SOP is the EVALUATE the hazard.  Consult Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to determine the hazards of the chemicals you will be working with. Contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer for assistance. Ask yourself questions. What are the conditions of use? What quantity of material will be used? Is exposure above an OSHA PEL possible? Is the material a health, contact, or fire hazard? How much and what type of waste will this produce?

The third step to completing a SOP is to establish appropriate CONTROL methods. Appropriate control methods include: specifying the use of engineering controls such as fume hoods and gloves boxes to prevent exposures, implementing “designated use areas” for particularly hazardous chemicals, specify personal protective equipment requirements, encourage sound work practices by developing housekeeping policies, inspection policies, and laboratory rules and expectations.

What do I do with completed Standard Operating Procedure?

Ensure that lab personnel are trained, understand, and implement the procedures as directed in the SOP. Incorporate newly developed SOPs into your laboratory Chemical Hygiene Plan. You should forward copies of your completed SOPs to the Chemical Hygiene Officer. Remember, your CHP needs to be reviewed at least annually. This review must be documented.