Chapter 4 - Introduction to Hazardous Materials Management and EH&S

In the 1970's, the bewildering variety of chemicals used at StanfordUniversity appeared to defy any effort to quantify their risk orstandardize their handling. Back then, these problems were left toresearch scientists on the assumption that they knew more about thehazards and proper handling of these materials than anyone else.However, in the 1980's, a whole discipline of hazardous materialsmanagement was born. This field developed safety information, standardprocedures, and a whole constellation of laws and regulations addressingthe acquisition, storage, and use of chemicals.

In response to a growing regulatory load, Stanford faculty now rely onDepartment of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) staff to inform andadvise them on safety procedures and compliance. With everyoneparticipating, hazardous materials management at Stanford will continueto improve. We all have a role to play in making the hazardousmaterials management system better.

You may wonder if there is any end to the number of standards andprocedures that governments keep serving on laboratories and shops. Yetan honest regard for personal and institutional safety lies behind allthese rules. Part of EH&S' job is to make sense of the rules and todistribute the compliance burdens as equitably as possible. This chaptershows how you can achieve, with a minimum of effort, a safe everydaylaboratory environment that stays in compliance with the changing worldof health and safety regulations.