Household Hazardous Waste Household Disposal Locations Wastemobile Business Hazardous Waste Hazardous Waste Directory Industrial Materials Exchange (IMEX) Financial Help Report a Violator
Hazardous & Toxic Chemicals Natural Landscaping & Pesticides Floods EnviroStars Policy Young Children & Families Choose Safer Household Products Resources for Schools
Library Publications
Spanish Vietnamese Russian Somali Chinese Korean Ukrainian Other Languages

Rehab the Lab

Home >> Resources for Schools >> Rehab the Lab

Rehab the Lab: Science Classroom & Lab Safety Reference and Checklist

The Science Classroom and Lab Safety Reference and Checklist is a resource designed to help schools comply with health and safety practices required by code and incorporate recommended guidelines to ensure prudent practices. The Reference is designed for online use or to be downloaded and used as a checklist during annual safety inspections.

(abbreviations defined below)


WAC or other Reference
Containers of non-hazardous substances (e.g., distilled water) shall be labeled to avoid confusion. (All containers must be labeled regardless of the contents). Required   WAC 296-800-17025
A mercury barometer is allowed, but not recommended. Mercury shall be disposed of in compliance with EPA and ECY regulations. Mercury-free barometers are available, e.g.: the "Eco-Celli" barometer.   Recommended

RCW 70.95M
WAC 173-303

Formaldehyde should not be in K-12 schools.  Laboratories using formaldehyde solutions must comply with the OSHA Occupational Standard for Formaldehyde. Biology specimens stored in formaldehyde should be decanted and held in a formaldehyde-free alternative. e.g., Flinnsafe, Carosafe, propylene glycol, or alcohol solution.  Formaldehyde disposal shall adhere to the ECY Dangerous Waste Regulations.   Recommended

WAC 296-856
29 CFR 1910.1048
WAC 173-303
Prudent Practices 11.C.1

Glassware should be free of all cracks, chips, sharp edges and other defects.   Recommended Prudent Practices 4.E.9
Biology specimens should be stored in sealed containers to prevent evaporation of liquid contents and resulting IAQ issues. Specimens preserved in hazardous or dangerous chemicals, e.g., alcohol, should be stored in locked cabinets. A flammable cabinet may be required.   Recommended Prudent Practices 5.E.1


All laboratories shall have a written clean-up plan for spills.  All laboratories shall have a spill clean-up kit or materials for absorbing spills identified and readily available to students and staff. Required  

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 2.F
Prudent Practices 6.C.10.6

Waste shall be disposed in accordance with ECY regulations. No waste or chemicals shall be poured down the drain or put in the garbage without approval from local sewer or solid waste authorities. Required   WAC 173-303
Prudent Practices 8.B.6.2


Instructors shall wear PPE when using corrosive, toxic, reactive, or irritating chemicals and during hazardous activities as required by L & I WISHA rules. Required  

WAC 296-800-160
WAC 296-155
Prudent Practices 7.C.3

Fume hood shall be used when using known or suspected carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, and chemicals which are fast acting/highly toxic, listed as toxic via skin absorption or inhalation, or chemicals with a TLV or PEL of 50 ppm or less. This determination shall be based on information provided by material? (MSDS or SDS) safety data sheets. Required  

WAC 296-841-20010
Prudent Practices 9.C.1

Eye protection, safety glasses, and face shields shall meet ANSI requirements. Students shall wear PPE when using corrosive, toxic, reactive, or irritating chemicals and during hazardous activities. Required  

ANSI Z87.1 WAC 246-366-140
RCW 70.100
WAC 296-800-160
WAC 296-155-215
Prudent Practices 6.C.2.2

A sink with soap and paper towels shall be available in the lab for hand washing. Required   WAC 296-800-23025
Emergency eyewash and shower stations shall be provided when there is a potential for exposure to corrosives, strong irritants or toxic chemicals. They shall be located within 50 feet or ten seconds walking distance from all lab science work stations. Required  

WAC 246-366-140(2)
WAC 296-800-15030
ANSI Z 358.1
Prudent Practices 7.F.2.5

Emergency showers shall deliver water to cascade over the user's entire body at a minimum rate of 20 gallons (75 liters) per minute for 15 minutes or more. Required  

WAC 296-800-15030
ANSI Z 358.1
Prudent Practices 7.F.2.5.1

Eye-wash stations and emergency showers shall be handicap accessible and operable "hands-free" so that the user can hold both eyes open. Hand-held showers and eye-wash equipment do not meet current L & I WISHA rules (except as auxiliary or extra protection). Required  

WAC 296-800-15030
ANSI Z 358.1
Prudent Practices 7.F.2.5

Eye wash stations shall provide 0.4 gallons (1.5 liters) per minute for 15 minutes or more. In some areas with high water pressure, flow regulators may be required on the eye wash stations. Required  

WAC 296-800-15030
ANSI Z 358.1
Prudent Practices 6.F.2.5

Emergency showers and eye wash units shall be inspected and tested for proper operation annually. Plumbed emergency eye washes must be activated weekly.  Written documentation of tests shall be maintained on site. Required  

WAC 296-800-15035
Prudent Practices 7.F.2.5

Fire retardant lab coats shall be used as required by L & I WISHA PPE rules when appropriate for a specific project or demonstration. Required  

CFR 1910.132(d)(1)
Prudent Practices 6.C.2.6.2

A first aid kit shall be provided and adequately stocked in the lab area. Required  

WAC 296-800-15020
Prudent Practices 2.F.2

Appropriate gloves, matched to the hazard, shall be provided and worn when the potential for hand contact with chemicals exists. Required   WAC 296-800-16065
Closed toe shoes shall be worn at all times in the laboratory. (No sandals or perforated shoes.) Required   WAC 296-800-16060
A non-asbestos fire blanket should be provided, identified, readily available, and visible to students and staff.   Recommended Prudent Practices 6.C.10.9
Safety shields on the demonstration table should be used for demonstrations wherever the possibility of explosion exists.   Recommended Prudent Practices 7.F.2.2
Ethidium Bromide is hazardous via skin contact or ingestion. Gloves and eye protection shall be worn when handling it. Only purchase Ethidium Bromide in kits and, when done using it, dispose as toxic hazardous waste.   Recommended

WAC 173-303-090,170

Jewelry should not be worn if personal safety would be jeopardized.   Recommended Prudent Practices 7.C.8.4.2
Loose hair should be restrained so that personal safety is not jeopardized.   Recommended Prudent Practices 7.C.8.4.2


There shall be an on-demand, mechanical ventilation system providing additional air exchange as required by codes for chemical areas such as photo darkrooms, storerooms and chemistry labs. (This is in addition to the building HVAC system). Required  

WAC 51-52/IMC 401, 403
WAC 296-841-20010
WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 9.C
NFPA 45 Chapter 8

All hazardous chemical fumes and vapors shall vent directly to the outside to prevent return into the building or the building HVAC system. Required  

WAC 296-62-13620
WAC 296-841-20010 (2)
WAC 51-52/IMC 501
Prudent Practices 9.C

Make-up air shall be of ample quantity to replace the exhausted air and shall be tempered when necessary.   Required  

WAC 296-62-13625
WAC 51-52/IMC 501
Prudent Practices 9.C

Only UL approved heating devices shall be used in laboratories. Required   IFC 605
Electrical receptacles shall be properly grounded. GFI devices shall be provided on all electrical receptacles within six (6) feet of sinks and other grounding sources. Required  

WAC 296-24-95705
NFPA 70/NEC 210-8(b)
NFPA 45-5.6
Prudent Practices 7.C.1.1

All electrical equipment shall be properly grounded. Portable electrical equipment shall be double-insulated or provided with a UL-listed ground prong. Required  

WAC 296-800-28040
WAC 296-24-95705
WAC 296-24-95709
Prudent Practices 7.C.1.1

Electrical extension cords shall be UL-listed, and the wire size shall be appropriate for the applied use. Required  

WAC 296-800-28040
WAC 296-24-95707,95709
IFC 605
Prudent Practices 7.C.1.1

There shall be at least one fume hood for each laboratory where hazardous chemicals are used.  A demonstration hood is also recommended with clear sides so students can view demonstrations from three sides. Required  

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 7.C.1.2
29 CFR 1910.1450 App A

All fume hoods shall exhaust directly to the outside, away from all occupied areas and air intakes in order to prevent exhaust from reentering the building. Required  

WAC 296-62-13620
WAC 51-52/IMC 501
Prudent Practices 9.C.2

Fume hoods in school buildings shall comply with AHERA asbestos regulations. Required   AHERA
All electrical devices such as switches, lights and motors used in the fume hood shall be explosion-proof. Required  

Prudent Practices 7.C.1.2

Electrical panel circuit breaker switches for the lab shall be accessible and the breakers labeled. A clear and unobstructed means of access with a minimum width of 30 inches and a minimum height of 78 inches shall be maintained from the operating face of an electrical panel board. Required  

WAC 296-800-28022
WAC 296-800-28025
WAC 51-54/IFC 605.3, 8509
NFPA 70/NEC 110.26

Fire extinguishers (ABC type) shall be provided.  Fire extinguishers shall be identified and readily accessible to staff and students. The instructor shall be trained in fire extinguisher use. Demonstration or hands-on training shall be provided during safety orientation. Required   WAC 296-800-30005, 30010, 30025
Prudent Practices 7.F.2.3.1
A fire alarm system shall be provided.  Alarm pull stations shall be identified and readily accessible to staff and students. Required   WAC 296-800-31070
Prudent Practices 7.F.2
Master gas shut-offs shall be provided, the location clearly visible, accessible, and indicated by means of a sign. Master electricity and water shut-offs are recommended. Directional signs should be provided to safety items in all lab areas. Required  

WAC 51-56/UPC 12.1151-54
IFC 2703.2.2.13503.1.3,
WAC 296-806-20008, 20012

Fume hood air velocity should be 60-125 LFM checked quarterly with a velocity meter.  Written documentation of all tests should be maintained on site.  The exhaust capture path should direct contaminants away from the user. With the sash raised to 12 inches, the air flow should measure at least 60 LFM.   Recommended

WAC 296-828-20005
ASHRAE 10-1995
ANSI Z 9.5
29 CFR 1910.1450 App A(C)(4)
Prudent Practices 9.C.2


Chemicals shall be organized and stored to separate incompatible groups.  Labels shall clearly denote the identity of the container’s chemical contents, warnings about its health and physical hazards, and the date received. Required  

WAC 296-800-17025
Prudent Practices 5.E.2,
Prudent Practices – Table 5.1

Food items (for human consumption) shall not be permitted in chemical laboratories or storerooms (including lab refrigerators). No eating, drinking or gum chewing shall be allowed in labs to prevent poisoning through ingestion. All food items to be used for experiments shall be labeled "Not for human consumption." Required  

29 CFR 1910.141 (g) (2) & (4)
Prudent Practices 6.C.2.3

Chemical storerooms shall be lockable and inaccessible to unsupervised students, and have self-closing doors.   Doors shall have a one-hour fire rating. Required  

WAC 51-54/IFC 2703.8.3.2
WAC 51-50/IBC 414.2.4
Prudent Practices 2.D.2

Chemicals marked only with teacher codes (e.g., A, B, C,…), for student testing/analysis, shall not be allowed in permanent storage. All containers shall be stored in a way that allows identification of their contents. Required   WAC 296-800-17025
Prudent Practices 5.E.2
All flammables shall be stored in approved flammable storage cabinets with self-closing doors.  Flammables (red labels) and acids and bases (white labels), shall be stored separately. Fire departments recommend not venting flammables cabinets. Required  

WAC 296-24-33009
Prudent Practices 5.E.5

Elemental mercury, mercury thermometers, mercury compounds and other mercury-containing devices shall not be in Washington State schools. Required   WAC 246-366-140
RCW 70.95M
Only explosion-proof refrigerators shall be used to store volatile chemicals. Non explosion-proof refrigerators or other electrical devices shall not be located in areas with vaporous or flammable chemicals. Required  

29 CFR 1910.307

Prudent Practices 7.C.3
Chemicals should not be stored in fume hoods for over 24 hours.   Recommended

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 9.C.2
29 CFR 1910.1450 App A(D)

There should be a separate storage shelf, cabinet or area for water-reactive compounds (e.g., metallic sodium, potassium or calcium) and organic peroxides.   Recommended Prudent Practices 5.E.7
Chemical storage areas should be clean, well-organized and have sufficient space to allow segregation of incompatible chemicals and easy access to storage shelves and exit doors.   Recommended

IFC 2703.9.8

Prudent Practices 2.D.2
Chemical storerooms should have sturdy, well-supported shelves secured to the walls.  All shelves should have "earthquake" (or "spill-prevention”) lips on all shelf edges. Doors that close on cabinets do not replace the need for spill-containment "lips" on the front edge of shelves.   Recommended Prudent Practices 2.D.2
Chemical storerooms should have all hazardous chemicals stored at or below eye level (typically below 5' 6") with heavy objects stored on lower shelves. Higher shelves may be used for other items; e.g., glassware, equipment, paper goods, etc.   Recommended Prudent Practices 2.D.2
Chemical storage areas should be kept cool (between 55 and 80 degrees F) and dry (relative humidity between 30 and 60%).   Recommended Prudent Practices 2.D.2
Chemicals should be stored according to their properties, in compatible storage groups, not alphabetically.   Recommended Prudent Practices 5.E.2
All acids should be stored in approved acid cabinets.  Isolate flammable acids like glacial acetic acid from oxidizing acids like nitric and sulfuric acid. Non-metal cabinets are recommended to prevent corrosion of the cabinet. Vent acid cabinets to prevent build-up of hazardous vapors.   Recommended

IFC (2009) 2701.3.3.3
Prudent Practices 5.E


The chemical hygiene officer (e.g., science department chairperson or science teacher) shall develop and carry out a written CHP.  It should include an operation and maintenance program for laboratory fume hoods and other mechanical equipment in science laboratories. Required  

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 9.C.2

A written and documented lab safety orientation that includes components of the Chemical Hygiene Plan shall be provided for all staff and students. Required  

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 2.B

A telephone for reporting emergencies shall be located in or near the laboratory. Emergency telephone numbers shall be readily accessible. Staff shall be trained in emergency procedures. Required   RCW 28A.335.320
Prudent Practices 3.D.2.1
Lab floor plans shall be kept in the school office.  A listing of exits, chemicals, and storage place of chemicals shall be included for use by emergency responders. Exits shall be clearly marked and free of obstruction. Required  

29 CFR 1910.1450 App A
Prudent Practices App. A

Science laboratories shall have an inventory list of all chemicals.  This list must be updated periodically. (The recommendation is annually or more frequently.) Required  

WAC 296-800-17005
WAC 296-800-17010
RCW 28A.320.125(3)(b)
Prudent Practices 2.D.4

SDS shall be kept and readily available for all chemicals in the lab. Required  

29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4)(ii)
Prudent Practices 4.B.2

Science laboratories shall have a written CHP that is available to all students and staff members. It shall be reviewed annually and updated when necessary. (New science teachers shall review the CHP as part of their Employee Safety Orientation.) Required  

WAC 296-828-20005
Prudent Practices 2.B

Invisible hazards (radiation, chemical, electrical, laser, and heat) should be posted with warning signs or symbols when present.   Recommended

ANSI C95.2
OSHA Tech Manual Sec. III: Chap 6 (VI)(E)(1)
Prudent Practices 7.C.8.1

Schools should only store and use chemicals appropriate for their level of science instruction. The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County maintains a comprehensive database of school chemicals which includes exposure hazards, environmental toxicity, common experiments, grade suitability, and a grade-based hazard rating. Chemicals in the data base rated as “ban candidates” should not be used in K-12 schools.   Recommended

WAC 246-366-140
LHWMP School Chemicals List Database

Chemicals should be purchased in the smallest commercially available container or in an amount that will meet the school's needs for approximately five academic years, whichever is greatest.  All chemicals should be dated upon receipt into the lab or storage area.   Recommended

WAC 246-366-140
Prudent Practices 5.B.1
Prudent Practices 5.B.5

Prudent Practices 5.C.1

Download Science Classroom & Lab Reference Checklist (PDF)

Guide to Abbreviations and References

Other Resources

Last Updated: August 2014