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Creating A Lab Safety Manual & Notebook

Lab Safety Manuals, Protocols and Notebook Overview

All COEN research and teaching labs should have in place a set of lab safety manual (LSMs) and lab safety notebook to provide basic training to the users of the lab.  Exempt are labs that rely only on computers for their work and whose environments resemble an office setting.

While it is ultimately up to the Principal Investigator or Instructor to decide how best they want to implement safety training in their lab, a great deal of effort has gone into facilitating this exercise by creating standardized general safety manuals, templates for lab-specific safety manuals as well as linking to University-wide documents and tools. It is hoped that labs will take advantage of the guidance and content provided on this page to facilitate the publishing of effective, thorough and consistent lab safety training.

Lab Safety Manual Set

A lab safety manual set consists of two components, a general lab safety manual and a lab-specific safety manual. The general manual is intended to provide high-level safety information for COEN labs and has been reviewed and approved by the COEN Safety Committee and EHSS Lab Safety Officer.  The lab-specific manual is intended to provide safety information that is pertinent to only your lab. This set of safety manuals is intended to be part of a broader training set that may include task-specific protocols and online training.

Below is a breakdown of the topics covered in each lab safety manual:

General Lab Safety Manual:

  • Emergency Response
  • General Lab Practices
  • Hazard Mitigation
  • Electrical Safety
  • Chemical Emergencies
  • Waste Management
  • Lab Safety Resources

Lab-Specific Safety Manual:

  • Safety Checklist for Your Lab
  • Lab Operations and Hazards
  • Laboratory Evacuation

Creating Your Set of Lab Safety Manuals

First download and review the general lab safety manual to familiarize yourself with its content. Next, download the template for the lab-specific safety manual. Instructions are provided in the comment field of the template to provide guidance for each topic as needed. Note that research and teaching labs use different sets of safety manuals.

Research Labs

Teaching Labs

Lab Protocols and Procedures

If your lab has processes that require personal protective equipment, engineering controls or administrative controls, you must have a written protocol or procedure to describe the hazards and steps needed to safely perform that work and make that part of the training for the lab workers and students doing those tasks.

While some procedures can be very simple, many require thought and effort to be effective. Please click here for the Lab Protocols webpage for protocol methodology, examples and templates.

Assembling The Lab Safety Notebook

The lab safety notebook should include the lab safety manual set plus several other important documents. The following is a list of items to be inserted in the notebook, filling from front to back.

  1. Your lab-specific safety manual (this is created by the PI/instructor using the template link above)
  2. The general lab safety manual (download this from from the appropriate link above, depending on whether your lab is a research lab or teaching lab).
  3. Divider labeled “Lab SOPs and Protocols” (see more on dividers below)
  4. All protocols and procedures used in your lab’s work (the PI/instructor is responsible for creating these)
  5. Divider labeled “Emergency Response Info”
  6. Your lab’s Emergency Contact sign (contact PI or instructor for this)
  7. Boise State Emergency Response Guide
  8. Workers Compensation Flow Chart (use for BSU employees only)
  9. Divider labeled “Training Records”
  10. Your lab’s training records. Note: if your PI chooses to keep training records elsewhere, complete the form here and insert in place of training records.
  11. Divider labeled “Chem. Inv. / MSDSs”
  12. Chemical Inventory Flow Chart, download here
  13. Your lab’s chemical inventory (you provide this)
  14. Your lab’s MSDSs (you provide these)

Notebook Organization

Check with the COEN Safety Liaison or your department admin to see if they have materials below. You will need to determine how large of a notebook you will need. As a point of reference, the standard content, excluding the lab safety manuals, protocols, chemical inventory and MSDSs, will be about 50 pages. So add the pages of your LSM set, additional training, chemical info, etc to that number to get an idea of how large of a notebook to use.

  • 3 ring binders (1.5″, ~250 pp. capacity, 2″ white  ~330 pp. capacity, 3″ ~ 400 pp capacity)
  • Orange notebook cover and spine inserts to identify Lab Safety Notebook

Possible Need for Additional Notebooks:

If you have many protocols or SOPs and a large chemical inventory in your lab, you may need to purchase additional binders to store the chemical sections of the notebook. It is recommended that lab training through incident/accident content (items 1-10 above) and any training records be put in the first notebook and chemical inventory and MSDS go into additional notebooks as needed.

Adding Cover Inserts to Notebook(s)

Notebook Cover InsertDownload the form here to make an insert  for your lab safety notebook and replace the text XYZ LAB with the name of your lab name. Print out and slip into notebook window.

Notebook Spine Insert- Download the lab safety notebook spine file here.  Cut along the faint grey lines and slip into your notebook with “L” in Laboratory at the top.

Chemical Notebooks: If the chemical section of your lab’s notebook is large and requires it’s own notebook, use the cover insert here and spine insert here.

Dividers: One way to streamline labeling dividers is to make printed labels that can be applied over the divider tab. Click here for the Word document that is designed to work with the OfficeMax stick-on labels described below.

Notebook Location

The best place for the lab safety notebook is one where it can be grabbed quickly on the way out of the lab in the case of an emergency. Wall-mounted racks or open shelves near the lab exit are excellent places for lab safety notebooks. In the case of chemically-intensive labs, be sure you have enough racks or shelf space for 2 or more notebooks, as the MSDS sections may take more than one.

Notebook Materials

Below is a list of materials that may be ordered if a department is to provide Lab Safety Notebook materials.

  • 3 Ring Binders
    1.5″ white w/ viewing window         OfficeMax  p/n 21937567 (~250 pp. capacity)
    2″ white w/ viewing window            OfficeMax  p/n21925712 (~330 pp. capacity)
    3″ white w/ viewing window            OfficeMax p/n 21925687 (~ 400 pp capacity, not recommended due to size & weight; better to use additional binders)
  • Dividers, 5 tab                                    OfficeMax p/n 20802972
  • Clear Divider Tab Labels, 0.5″ x 1.75″   OfficeMax  p/n 21903120 (optional)
  • Notebook Cover and Spine Inserts:
    Fireworx Colored Multi-Use Paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, Combustible Orange, 65 lb Cover,  OfficeMax p/n 21142522