Laboratory Safety

Learn best practices for the safe handling of chemicals in laboratories.

Laboratory Safety

It is important to handle chemicals safely in a laboratory, whether it is a commercial laboratory involved in quality control or a teaching laboratory in an educational institution.

Poor management of laboratory chemicals may lead to undesirable consequences such as:

  • Fires;
  • Chemical burns;
  • Explosions;
  • Occupational diseases;
  • Chemical poisoning; and/or
  • Environmental pollution.

Risk Control Measures

To ensure the safe handling of laboratory chemicals, consider the following risk control measures at each stage of the chemical's life cycle.


Life Cycle Stage

Examples of Risk Control Measures


  • Purchase less hazardous chemicals whenever safer alternatives exist.
  • Purchase the minimum quantity based on expected usage.
  • Train employees to receive chemicals safely upon delivery.


  • Store chemicals by compatibility (e.g. by hazard type).
  • Store chemicals in proper facilities (e.g. fire-rated storage cabinets).
  • Store gas cylinders upright and secure them to prevent toppling.
  • Affix proper GHS labels on chemical containers.
  • Equip storage area with emergency response equipment (e.g. spill control kits).


  • Plan a safe transfer method or route (e.g. avoid crowded areas).
  • Use a cart or trolley when moving bigger or heavier quantities of chemicals (e.g. use cylinder cart for moving gas cylinders).
  • Choose receiving containers that are compatible with the chemical being transferred.
  • Label receiving containers correctly.


  • Ensure laboratories are adequately ventilated.
  • Handle toxic chemicals inside the fume cupboard.
  • Equip employees with appropriate PPE (e.g. safety goggles, gloves, apron, covered shoes).
  • Return chemicals to their original locations after use.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after using chemicals.


  • Segregate chemical wastes by compatibility.
  • Store chemical waste in durable, leak-proof containers that are compatible with its content.
  • Label waste containers to indicate waste type, key constituents, associated hazards and recommended PPE.
  • Follow proper waste disposal procedures.
  • Engage a licensed toxic industrial waste (TIW) collector to collect the chemical waste.


For More Information

Refer to the WSH Guidelines for Laboratories Handling Chemicals (PDF).