Lab Student Safety Education & Safety Exam

Revised MAR 2017, including a new video. Please read carefully.

Student planning to work in a chemistry laboratory need to learn basic safety principles before beginning. During laboratory work (as a student and as a professional) each person is expected to know:

  • general laboratory and life safety principles,
  • specific laboratory policies and procedures for each lab or work area
  • the hazards of the materials in use.

The materials mentioned below provide tools need to learn these topics. Specific instructions for instruments and equipment are taught in class as new topics and instruments are introduced. Rules that are specific to an individual class are published in the syllabus for that class.


Each laboratory student in Chemistry & Biochemistry (CHEM) is responsible for learning the basics of laboratory safety, including

  • life safety issues,
  • hazard recognition,
  • risk assessment,
  • hazardous materials management/storage and
  • emergency response.

Our safety education program presents reading materials, video presentations and personal contacts to assist students. Additional assistance is available, as requested by students. We guide the student to:

  • Recognize hazards,
  • Assess the risk of those hazards,
  • Minimize, manage, or control those hazards, and
  • Prepare to respond to emergencies.

The R-A-M-P acronym helps us remember the process for managing our exposures to hazards.

Reading Materials

LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS is available to all students via the UC San Diego Library -- click on the book title for information on library collection and other links to the textbook. Each chapter presents introductory and intermediate readings on a specific topic. Some chapters include advanced materials as well.

STUDY GUIDE:  Student Preparation for CHEM Lab provides our Teaching Laboratory policies. It coordinates with LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS. Other labs and other institutions have different rules and policies, so always be sure to check a local source when you start in a new lab.


  • Study the introductory level readings material in LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS and in the STUDY GUIDE. Use the study questions at the end of each section to check yourself.
  • Study the LAB RULES.
  • Consider attending a WORKSHOP before attempting the exam. Students who attend have reported this to be a valuable experience. Get answers to any questions and study with other students.
  • The Instructor's first lecture will introduce lab safety principles, emergency evacuation and topics necessary for the first weeks in class.
  • The Instructor will cover the INTRODUCTORY sections of LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS (156 pp) throughout the quarter.
  • The CHEM 7L LAB SAFETY EXAM will cover the Instructor's introduction and the Lab Rules. Subsequent class exams will cover the materials presented later. 

- CHEM 100A & CHEM 143A

To prepared for your LAB SAFETY EXAM:

- Advanced CHEM Labs

  • Advanced chemistry lab students will find LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS a valuable resource for advanced topics not addressed in introductory classes.
  • Students entering our program in advanced status will be asked to demonstrate knowledge of laboratory safety and the LAB RULES.

STUDY GUIDE:  Student Preparation for CHEM Lab provides our Teaching Laboratory policies. It coordinates with LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS. Other labs and other institutions have different rules and policies, so always be sure to check a local source when you start in a new lab.


Our Laboratory Rules cover items specific to our facilities, including our rules for safety eye protection, lab coats and shoes, laboratory glove use and moving chemicals between labs. Please note these items in particular:

  • Long PANTS (or their equivalent) are required to protect from splash contamination. Leggings are not pants and are NOT PERMITTED. Tight pants (skinny jeans) do not provide protection and may be interpreted as “leggings” for the purposes of this rule. Make sure you have at least one pair of pants with substantial air space between the fabric and your skin – especially below the knee. Other questions about what is “equivalent” should be referred to the Teaching Labs Safety Coordinator.
  • Closed SHOES that cover the whole foot and protect from spills and broken glass are required. Please note:  open shoes that leave the top of the foot exposed (such as loafers and ballet flats) are not allowed. Absorbent materials, such as canvas, are discouraged (and forbidden in some classes – see your class syllabus).
  • Lab coats are required in all labs:  purchase a coat that can be worn buttoned to the knee while sitting. Clothing must not extend beyond the coat sleeves.
  • Headphones & ear buds are forbidden in all labs, as they might interfere with instructions, alarms or warnings.
  • Arrive prepared to work on Day 1 of lab:  dress for lab work (pants, shoes, lab coat); bring your chemical splash goggles, notebook and pen. Lab coats and goggles are available in the campus Bookstore.

Study Together

Our WORKSHOPS (see CURRENT SCHEDULE) bring students together with the Staff to see and handle lab equipment, to learn procedures in a laboratory setting and to discuss any questions students may have. Students who have attended in recent quarters have found this helpful. Come for a few minutes or for the whole meeting (the second meeting is a repeat of the first; no need for both!). The worksheet we'll use is here. Request further assistance from your Lab Instructor, your TA and the Lab Staff.


Students in CHEM 7L, 7LM, 100A, 143A and143AM are required to demonstrate an understanding of general laboratory safety and familiarity with the CHEM Laboratory Rules. Students who do not take the on-line exam during the test period or who DO NOT DEMONSTRATE an understanding of general laboratory safety and familiarity with the CHEM Laboratory Rules may be dropped from the course with a grade of "W," where possible.

A passing score on the LAB SAFETY EXAM (75%, rounded to the nearest whole number) fulfills the safety requirement.

  • A safety exam in another department or at another institution DOES NOT fulfill this requirement.
  • On-line new employee training DOES NOT fulfill this requirement.
  • NO MAKE-UP EXAM is planned for those who skip, ignore or forget the on-line exam. Mark your calendar.
  • The second exam is a chance for students who have failed the on-line exam to keep a place in class.
  • Check your class syllabus to see whether the Safety Exam score is part of your course grade.

The exam is available on-line in TritonED during the first week of class. Each student is responsible for checking the CURRENT SCHEDULE and taking the exam within the time assigned to his/her class.

Waiting to study and then to find the exam has caused avoidable problems for many students. Study materials are provided on the web sites below and are available to everyone. Study the resources here without delay and mark your calendar to take the exam on time. Do not wait until the last minute, as this causes unnecessary grief for everyone involved.

In TritonED, follow the instructions to assure that your computer will run the sites (and the exam) correctly.

Students who do not yet have a UC San Diego student account with Educational Technology Services need to register and establish an account before they can proceed to the exam. This process takes a full business day.

 The exam is available on-line in TritonED during the first week of class. Each student is responsible for checking the CURRENT SCHEDULE (on this page) and taking the exam within the time assigned to his/her class. From your list of TritonED courses, choose the LAB SAFETY TRAINING page associated with your course:


Your course Instructor may have a different TritonED page for your lab course. The safety exam appears only in the LAB SAFETY TRAINING page.

The exam has a time limit of one hour (60 minutes), once begun. For best results, we suggest:
  • Study carefully before opening the exam.
  • Get your questions answered via email or at the WORKSHOP.
  • Be sure you have at least an hour free.
  • If possible, make sure you have a stable, wired (not wireless) internet connection.
  • Close all programs & restart your computer; allow the computer to do any necessary updates.
  • Open only the web browser & the TritonED site, so nothing interferes with your test.
  • Read carefully and answer thoughtfully.


Students who need ACCOMMODATIONS (such as an alternative test format or extra time) for documented hardship or disability must contact the Safety Coordinator before classes begin or as soon as possible.

CURRENT SCHEDULE: Safety Workshops and Exams


CHEM 7L, 7LM, 100A, 143A



 Date, Time

NOTICE:  safety program requirements & study resources emailed to students in introductory lab classes*

Via TritonLink to
UCSD email address

Week of Mar 26, 2017

optional, but highly recommended for all students*; drop in to any session for a short time or stay for the whole meeting; bring questions about your reading; meet staff

NSB 1103
choose one session

Tuesday, 4/4
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Wednesday, 4/5
8:00 – 10:00 AM


for all classes

Sunday, 4/2

ON-LINE EXAM  Closes**

for all classes

Wednesday 4/5
11:59 pm

optional, but highly recommended for students taking the second exam:  meet staff; work with other students; ask questions

NSB 1103

Thursday Evening, 4/6

6:00 8:00PM

all classes, for any student who failed** the on-line exam

 YORK 2722

Friday Morning, 4/7**

** No makeup time is planned for students who miss/skip/forget the On-Line Exam.

Print Calendar (.pdf)


We welcome students who are new to the CHEM Teaching Labs as

  • recent transfers,
  • returning students, or
  • extension (concurrent enrollment) students.

All such students need to demonstrate an understanding of general laboratory safety and familiarity with the our Laboratory Rules. Our Rules may differ somewhat from what any previous training you have received, as different institutions frequently have different local rules. See Resources (on this page).

TRANSFER or RETURNING. If you are enrolled in one of our introductory classes (CHEM 7L, 7LM, 100A, 143A), follow the program outlined on this page. If you are enrolled in one of our other lab classes, please contact the CHEM Teaching Labs Safety Coordinator as soon as possible, to avoid any delay in your studies.

EXTENSION (CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT).  Please contact the CHEM Teaching Labs Safety Coordinator as soon as possible, to avoid any delay in your studies.

STUDY MATERIALS for LAB SAFETY: General Lab Safety & the CHEM Teaching Labs Rules


Study the LABORATORY RULES (available here and in each lab) for our specific rules, especially about

  • safety eye protection (goggles and glasses)
  • lab coats, shoes and clothing
  • where & when to wear lab gloves
  • moving hazardous materials between laboratories.

LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS (by Robert H. Hill, Jr. & David Finster) is available in the UC San Diego Library (in both print and electronic versions). This text is designed to carry a student through the years of a chemistry curriculum. Each chapter has introductory, intermediate and more advanced materials.

  • CHEM 7L will be introduced to the elements in the introductory material throughout the quarter.
  • CHEM 100A, 143A and 143AM students are expected to recall (or review) the introductory materials and learn the intermediate materials.

STUDY GUIDE: Student Preparation for CHEM Lab coordinates with LABORATORY SAFETY FOR CHEMISTRY STUDENTS and outlines the policies students are expected to follow in our Teaching Laboratories.


In your first lab meeting, your Teaching Assistant (TA) will introduce/review LAB SAFETY EQUIPMENT available in your lab. Each lab is different. Learn where each item is, how to use it and who is to use it:

  • Exit doors (each lab has two, but the second may not be obvious)
  • Emergency evacuation route
  • Emergency assembly area (different for each building on campus)
  • Chemical hoods
  • Emergency shower & eyewash
  • First aid kit
  • Fire/emergency blanket
  • Spill response kit
  • Telephone (if any)


As you prepared for each lab exercise, notice the materials that are new to you and check their hazards and properties before you come into the lab. Your primary source of information is the SAFETY DATA SHEET (SDS) prepared by the manufacturer of the material. In lab, be sure to check bottle labels as well.

SAFETY DATA SHEETS (SDS), formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), provide information about the composition and hazards of specific products. Make a table in your notebook to list: 

  • the materials you expect to use,
  • their hazards and properties, plus
  • the quantities you expect to need.

Use your table of materials as a quick reference while you work. SDS are produced by chemical manufacturers and are available through various sources.



If you learn best by watching video instruction, there are lots of sources. Check the Lab Safety Video tab in the Library Guide: Chemical Safety Information.

- General Lab Safety:

From Environment Health & Safety and the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department:

Also see: Lab Safety Made Simple (7 minutes), a humorous look at safety violations and their consequences. Includes a chance to see how much water is delivered by a lab safety shower. Find the differences between their rules and ours - and the common mis-spelling of "goggles."

- Chemical Hoods:

- NEW! GHS:  Globally Harmonized System of Classification & Labelling of Chemicals

Napo in... danger: chemicals!  (

Napo and his co-workers are involved in work with chemicals, including those that are irritants, flammable, corrosive, toxic or a danger to the environment. Short humorous sketches show how to prevent accidents by using safe working practices. The film draws attention to the importance of labelling chemical products, using the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Part of large series of films produced for the Film Consortium, Via Storia & the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work (

- Fire Blanket – The all-around safety tool:

- Lab Techniques

from Environment Health & Safety and the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department:

University of Alberta has a library of basic techniques in various video formats:  LABORATORY TECHNIQUES VIDEOS.


Ask for assistance or lab accommodations:


Score for the on-line exam becomes available to each student after the exam:  log into TritonED to check your personal gradebook (MY GRADES). A passing score on the on-line exam is 75% (rounded to the nearest whole number; e.g., 74.5 = 75%).

It is the responsibility of each student to obtain the exam score and, if necessary, present him/herself for the second exam. Safety exam scores may be used as part of a class grade; re-testing may have no effect on a failing exam score for the purpose of assigning a course grade (see your Instructor's course syllabus).

Results for the second exam (PASS/FAIL only) will be posted to TritonED as soon as they are available, usually late on the day of the exam.

For more information, contact Sheila Kennedy, C.H.O, Safety Coordinator, CHEM Teaching Labs.


2014 Howard Fawcett Chemical Health and Safety Award

The  Division of Chemical Health and Safety (CH&S) of the American Chemical Society recognized UC San Diego staff members with the Howard Fawcett Chemical Health and Safety Award:

  • Sheila Kennedy (Safety Coordinator, CHEM Teaching Labs) and
  • Joanna Boval (Director, Office for Students with Disabilities).

The annual Fawcett Award recognizes outstanding individual contributions to the field of Chemical Health and Safety. In 2014 CH&S recognized innovative solutions for assisting students with disabilities in the CHEM Teaching Labs.

2011 NIOSH Collegiate Safety Award

The Teaching Laboratories safety program of UC San Diego Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry was honored as the 2011 recipient of the NIOSH College and University Health and Safety Award. This award is given by the Division of Chemical Health and Safety (CH&S) of the American Chemical Society to recognize the most comprehensive laboratory safety programs in higher education at the undergraduate level.  UC San Diego joins other distinguished colleges and universities that have received this award which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH).

SAFE at UC San Diego – Safety Award For Excellence

Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) recognizes employees who are making UC San Diego a SAFE place with the Safety Award For Excellence. Several members of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department (both faculty and staff) have received this award in recent years:

  • Dr. Haim Weizman, Professor, Safety Committee Chairman & producer of lab safety videos.

  • Sheila Kennedy, C.H.O., Safety Coordinator for the CHEM Teaching Labs.

  • Dr. Murray Goodman, Professor, Health & Safety Coordinating Council Chairman.

  • Joseph Taulane, Goodman Lab, cited for support of the community and his lab, acting decisively to correct safety problems.

  • Dr. Jay Siegel, Professor, recognized for his proactive approach to hazard communication.


     If you have questions about Lab Student Safety Education or our Lab Safety Exam, please carefully review these pages, as well as the Teaching Laboratory FAQs. We teach, coach & test more than a thousand students in the first week of each quarter, so it’s helpful if we don't hear from everyone at once. If you think we have missed something, though, please do send an email & help us improve the process and the information.
~ Sheila Kennedy

In Chemistry & Biochemistry:

In Environment, Health & Safety,