Division Title
Your Role

Laboratory Workers

Select one of the links below for more information.


It is important that you have the required training before you start to work in the lab. Every laboratory worker is required to take Laboratory Safety Training annually. Also, if you work with certain biological materials, you may be required to take Bloodborne Pathogens training annually. These courses, provided by the Division of Occupational Health and Safety, are the minimum required training to begin working in a laboratory at the NIH. Please speak with your supervisor to arrange task-specific training. Additional course information is available here.


The table below outlines the mandatory training courses, who is required to take the course and when to take the course.


Course​​Who Should Take It​When to Take It

Introduction to Lab Safety​ (online)

​All laboratory personnel​Once, when you first start at NIH
NIH Laboratory Safety 101 (online)​All laboratory personnel​​Once, when you first start at NIH

Laboratory Safety Refresher Course (online)

​All laboratory personnel​Annually, following the classroom course
Lab Safety Refresher- LIVE (classroom)​All laboratory personnelAnnually- in lieu of online refresher​
​Working Safely with HIV and Other Bloodborne Pathogens for Non-Hospital Personnel (online)​All laboratory personnel working with bloodborne pathogens and/or as indicated by the NIH Biosafety Officer​Once, when you first come to NIH or as indicated by the NIH Biosafety Officer
Bloodborne Pathogen Refresher Course (online)​All laboratory personnel working with bloodborne pathogens and/or as indicated by the NIH Biosafety Officer​Annually, following the classroom course
Biological Safety Level 3 Training​ (classroom)​​All BSL-3 laboratory personnel and/or as indicated by the NIH Biosafety Officer​Annually
Biological Materials Shipper Training (classroom)​All personnel preparing shipments of biological materials​Biennially
​S.T.A.R.S. "Learn by Doing" Lab Safety Training (classroom)​All laboratory personnel 21 years old and younger

​​Once, when you first start at NIH

This course is only available in the summer.  Laboratory Safety at the NIH classroom course must be taken when STARS is not available.


You may find the following supplemental training resources helpful:

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GHS, Hazard Signage and Chemical Labeling 

There are currently three official methods for labeling chemicals in the United States; the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Hazard Identification System (NFPA Diamond) or the American Coatings Association's (ACA) Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS), and the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System (GHS). On March 26, 2012 OSHA adopted the GHS and incorporated it into the Hazard Communication Standard. The GHS will replace the NFPA and HMIS identification systems in workplaces. By December 1, 2013, all employers must train their employees about GHS. By December 1, 2015, all chemicals distributed in the U.S. must utilize the GHS labeling system.  By June 1, 2016 all U.S. employers must be in full compliance with GHS.

The GHS will utilize standardized pictograms, standardized hazard statements, and standardized precautionary statements to alert workers to chemical hazards.  



  • Pictograms are visual identifiers that will help employees readily recognize general hazard categories. A chemical may have multiple pictograms.
    * OSHA Pictograms.
    GHS Signs

Hazard Statements

  • Hazard Statements describe the nature of the hazard or hazards present and possibly the degree of the hazard for a chemical. A chemical may have multiple hazard statements. Each hazard statement is defined by OSHA and assigned a number. If you have personnel in your laboratory that do not speak or recognize English, you may use the assigned number of the hazard statement to identify the correct hazard statement in their language.

  • Hazard statements can be physical, health, or environmental hazards.
    * List of GHS Hazard Statements in English External Website
    * Hazard Statements in European Languages External Website

Flammable GHS Image

Precautionary Statements

  • Precautionary Statements alert employees to actions they must take to protect themselves from hazards associated with a chemical. Each precautionary statement is defined by OSHA and assigned a number. If you have personnel in your laboratory that do not speak or recognize English, you may use the assigned number of the precautionary statement to identify the correct precautionary statement in their language.
  • Precautionary statements cover prevention, response, storage and disposal of chemicals.
  • Precautionary Statements in English and European Languages Exit arrow
Under the GHS, all chemical mixtures and compounds made in the laboratory will be required to have the following elements:
  • Name, address and telephone number of person or company that prepared the mixture or compound
  • Product identifier (name or chemical formula)
  • Signal word, if applicable
    • Danger (more severe)
    • Warning (less severe)
  • Hazard statements
  • Precautionary statements
    • Prevention
    • Response
    • Storage
    • Disposal
  • Pictograms
If you need assistance to identify the correct signal word, hazard statement, precautionary statement or pictogram, please contact your IC Safety Specialist.  
Laboratory personnel should be familiar with all three labeling systems and be able to distinguish the differences between the systems. GHS numerical hazard ratings are, generally, the opposite rating of NFPA and ACA. For example, in the GHS system acetaldehyde has a flammable rating of 1 but in the NFPA system it has a flammable rating of 4.

The following resources will help you learn the differences between the three labeling systems:

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Biological Safety

Below are some links that you may find useful in addition to the DOHS biosafety website. If you need more specific information or help, please contact your Safety Specialist.

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Safe Lab Equipment

The following websites provide useful information on the safe use of lab equipment:




Additional Information


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Emergency Procedures

Use the links below to help familiarize yourself with NIH emergency procedures. Speak with your PI about lab specific emergency procedures.

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OSHA and Lab Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several laws and guidance documents that pertain to laboratory workers. The links below are a compilation of some of the pertinent resources from OSHA:

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