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Learning Objectives for College Students

Safety considerations should be woven into every part of the chemistry curriculum, from basic familiarity with common hazards for undergraduate students to the ability to predict and prepare for hazards of unknown materials at the graduate and professional level.

Assessing student mastery of chemical safety learning objectives should be a component of all laboratory experiences, including being a component of cumulative comprehensive examinations. Safety training should be treated as a critical component of preparing students to be successful as chemical professionals.

This page lists objectives that faculty and staff should expect undergraduate students to become familiar with. The goals of these guidelines are to:

  • Help students develop an understanding of the principles of chemical safety
  • Enable students to apply these concepts when working in a laboratory
  • Foster a culture of safety in which students apply the RAMP concept to their laboratory experiences
  • Encourage the scientific community to keep safety a high priority

The objectives are organized according to the RAMP framework. They are intended to be suggestive, as a department establishes its own academic laboratory safety program. Concepts should be integrated and assessed throughout the curriculum.

Recognize the Hazards

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Assess the Risks of the Hazards

  • Know that risk is the probability of suffering injury or harm from exposure to a hazard
  • Assess the risks of specific hazards
  • Determine the relative severity of a specific hazard and to give an estimate of the likelihood of exposure under certain circumstances

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Minimize the Risks of the Hazards

  • Identify ways in which the risk can be lowered
  • Be familiar with control measures, including:
    • Engineering controls (equipment such as hoods, ventilation systems, and safety interlocks)
    • Administrative controls (procedures, processes, and training)
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Know common methods to minimize hazards and the limitations of those protective measures
  • Be aware that all laboratory research has risks and that careful planning and preparation are required to mitigate them

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Prepare for Emergencies from Uncontrolled Hazards

  • Prepare for emergencies by being able to explain how to respond to common emergencies that could occur in laboratories, such as fires, explosions, chemical exposures, injuries, and chemical spills.
  • Explain the selection and proper use of emergency equipment (e.g., fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, safety showers, spill kits, first aid kits, fire alarms, and fire blankets)
  • Know the importance of reporting laboratory incidents and the lessons that can be learned from the incidents
  • Understand the value of training, knowing the locations of all emergency equipment, and considering what one would do in the event of emergency

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Detailed Objectives

Recognize the Hazards

(About the Recognize principle of RAMP)

Basic Terminology and Concepts

  • Differentiate between hazard and risk.
  • Define acute toxicity and chronic toxicity. Cite examples of each.
  • State the general effects that corrosives have on the skin.
  • State the general hazards associated with flammables commonly used in the laboratory.
  • Correlate a compound’s structure and properties with potential flammability.
  • Explain the statement “The dose makes the poison.”
  • Explain why reducing the scale reduces the risk.
  • Describe the different classes of lasers.

Labels, SDS, and PPE

Basic Laboratory Safety

Regulatory Agencies and Regulations

Assess the Risks of the Hazards

(About the Assess principle of RAMP)


  • Interpret the information given on a manufacturer’s label or an in-house prepared label for a chemical substance.
  • Use hazard information to prepare labels, as per GHS 2012, for secondary containers.

Information from Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

  • Locate the CAS Registry Number for a chemical.
  • Locate an SDS for a chemical.
  • Identify the occupational exposure limits (OELs) using TLV and PEL values.
  • Differentiate between flash point and autoignition temperature.
  • Define and explain the relevance of upper and lower explosion limits for a substance.


  • Conduct a laboratory safety inspection.
  • Identify common safety concerns upon casual examination of a laboratory.

Risk Assessment

Minimize the Risks of the Hazards

(About the Minimize principle of RAMP)

General Concepts

  • Explain why the “buddy system” is used in laboratory environments.
  • Explain why various flammable and combustible materials should be available in limited quantities in laboratories.
  • Discuss the considerations that must be taken into account when measuring flammable materials and transferring them from one container to another.
  • Explain the reasons for following established and written protocols and/or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for laboratory activities and experiments.
  • Explain the reasons for good housekeeping in the laboratory.
  • Demonstrate good housekeeping by maintaining a clean and orderly workspace.
  • Identify and demonstrate the appropriate use of PPE for a given laboratory activity.
  • Identify and demonstrate the appropriate use of common laboratory safety equipment (e.g., safety shower, eyewash station, fire blanket, fire extinguisher).
  • Describe and demonstrate methods to prevent spills, including situations involving falling containers, or when transferring and transporting chemicals.
  • Describe and demonstrate the appropriate use of common laboratory devices for heating (e.g., Bunsen burners, hot plates, alcohol burners, candles, heat guns, laboratory ovens).
  • Describe the precautions for using the following equipment: microwave ovens, ultrasonic cleaners, centrifuges, vacuum pumps, refrigerators, and freezers.
  • Describe the precautions needed when using any electrical equipment, including inspection of cords and connections, grounding, and switches.
  • Describe the basic precautions for the following laboratory operations: chromatographic techniques, distillations, refluxing, recrystallization, extraction, and stirring.
  • Describe the basic precautions for working with reactive materials, peroxides, and other high hazard chemicals.


  • Prepare a safety checklist for experiments using the RAMP concept.
  • Describe how to plan experiments to minimize the use and generation of hazardous materials.
  • Prepare and lead a short safety meeting appropriate to the laboratory setting.


  • Describe the various types of eye protection and the specific protection that each provides.
  • Describe and discuss skin protection measures (e.g., clothing, gloves, tools).
  • Describe the appropriate materials and construction for a laboratory coat.
  • Explain why glove material and construction must be considered when selecting proper PPE.
  • Given a glove selection chart, select the proper glove material and construction for a laboratory operation or potential chemical exposure.
  • Select and wear appropriate PPE while in the laboratory.
  • Describe the proper care of PPE.


  • Differentiate between a chemical hood and a biological safety cabinet.
  • Describe the proper use and operation of chemical hoods and ventilation systems.
  • Describe the use of a “snorkel” exhaust system.


  • Describe the precautions to take when using a laser.


  • Demonstrate the proper disposal of “sharps”.
  • Demonstrate proper procedures to prevent lacerations while handling glassware, either intact or broken.

Inventory, Storage, and Security

  • Explain how a chemical inventory management system may assist in minimizing laboratory hazards.
  • Describe the appropriate storage protocols for laboratory chemicals.
  • Describe methods to ensure the security of laboratory chemicals.
  • Describe the proper use of safety cabinets for the storage of corrosives and flammables.
  • Explain why incompatible chemicals must be separated when being stored.
  • Describe the steps needed to prevent incompatible chemicals from coming into contact with each other.
  • Describe the appropriate storage procedures for flammables and corrosives.
  • Describe the considerations to be taken into account, including the quantities on hand and needed, when ordering and receiving chemicals.
  • Describe the general considerations and physical requirements for storing chemicals.
  • Describe measures that should be taken to prevent theft of chemicals and equipment.
  • Describe measures that should be taken to secure high hazard materials in the laboratory.
  • Given a list of chemicals commonly found in an undergraduate laboratory, describe the proper storage location for each chemical.

Chemical Wastes and Disposal

  • Describe the appropriate protocols for handling and disposing of chemical wastes.
  • Describe the appropriate disposal methods for damaged glassware.
  • Explain why disposal of chemical wastes by pouring them down the drain or placing them in the trash can is generally not appropriate.
  • List the two main responsibilities of laboratory personnel in hazardous waste disposal.

Chemical Demonstration Safety

  • Outline the appropriate safety measures that should be taken for any classroom or public chemical demonstration.

Spills and Spill Prevention

  • Demonstrate the appropriate use of bottle carriers.
  • Use appropriate techniques to transfer gases, liquids, and solids from storage containers to laboratory equipment.
  • Describe and demonstrate how spills of solids and liquids can be minimized and contained during weighing operations.

High Hazard Materials

  • Describe safety concerns and controls for the use of compressed gases.
  • Describe safety concerns and controls for the use of cryogens.
  • Describe safety concerns and controls for the use of lasers, pyrophorics, and other high hazard materials.
  • Describe safety concerns and controls for the use of radioactive materials.
  • Describe safety concerns and controls for the use of infectious biological materials.

Prepare for Emergencies from Uncontrolled Hazards

(About the Prepare principle of RAMP)

General Preparation

Emergency Response

  • Respond appropriately per institutional policies to emergency situations in the laboratory (e.g., spills, fires).
  • Describe emergency exit procedures and specific locations of emergency equipment in the laboratory.
  • Participate in an emergency exit procedure for the laboratory.
  • Outline the appropriate response per institutional policies to various laboratory hazards, including chemical hazards (e.g., corrosives, poisons, flammables) and physical hazards (e.g., sharps, electrical circuits, wet floors).

First Aid

  • Describe institutional policy related to providing first aid for laboratory accidents.
  • Demonstrate basic first aid procedures for common minor laboratory accidents.
  • Demonstrate the proper use of a safety shower and an eyewash station.


  • Describe the components of the fire triangle and the fire tetrahedron.
  • Describe the classes of fires and the appropriate class and use of fire extinguishers for each class of fire.
  • Describe the result of flammable vapors catching fire and expanding according to the gas equation.


  • Demonstrate proper techniques for cleaning up incidental (small or minor) spills.
  • Demonstrate the appropriate use of PPE in responding to a minor chemical spill.
  • Demonstrate the proper use of a spill kit in response to a minor acid, base, or organic spill in the laboratory.
  • Describe the appropriate action to take in the case of a large (or major) chemical spill.
  • Describe the proper protocol for cleaning up a mercury spill from a broken thermometer.

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