Chapter 6 - Info and Training


Federal and state laws and Cornell University policy require all laboratory workers to receive Laboratory Safety and Chemical Waste Disposal training and be informed of the potential health and safety risks that may be present in their workplace. Documentation must be maintained to demonstrate that such training was provided and received. In order to assist laboratory personnel comply with this requirement, laboratory safety training must be obtained either through EHS (classroom or web-based sessions) or documented as having been received from an alternative source.
The OSHA Laboratory Standard requires employers to provide employees with information and training to ensure they are apprised of the hazards of chemicals present in their work area. The Laboratory Standard goes on to state that such information shall be provided at the time of an employee’s initial assignment to a work area where hazardous chemicals are present and prior to assignments involving new exposure situations. 

As per the OSHA Laboratory Standard, information that must be provided to employees includes:

  • The permissible exposure limits for OSHA regulated substances or recommended exposure limits for other hazardous chemicals where there is no applicable OSHA standard. 
  • Signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory. 
  • The location and availability of identified reference materials listing the hazards, safe handling, storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals found in the laboratory including, but not limited to, SDSs received from the chemical supplier.
  • The Laboratory Standard goes on to state this training shall include:

  • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical.
  • The physical and health hazards of chemicals in the work area.
  • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and PPE to be used.

The employee shall be trained on the applicable details of the employer’s written Chemical Hygiene Plan.

While the OSHA Laboratory Standard is specific to working with hazardous chemicals, as per the University Health & Safety Policy 8.6, laboratory employees must also be provided with the proper training and information related to the other health and physical hazards that can be found in their work environment, including the hazards described within this Laboratory Safety Manual.

It is the responsibility of Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors to ensure personnel working in laboratories under their supervision have been provided with the proper training, have received information about the hazards in the laboratory they may encounter, and have been informed about ways they can protect themselves.


6.1 Training Options (Top)

Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors have a number of options available to them to ensure laboratory employees under their supervision have received proper training. These options include:

  • Training programs provided by EHS
  • Training programs provided by outside vendors 
  • In-house training programs (provided by the Principal Investigator or laboratory supervisor) 
  • Training manuals and booklets 
  • Training videos
  • Web-based training modules

The keys to any training programs are:

  • The instructor providing the training is technically qualified to provide training on the particular subject. 
  • The training program(s) address the hazards present in the laboratory and describe ways employees can protect themselves. 
  • The training program and attendance must be documented using a sign-in sheet and these records must be readily available and accessible upon request.
  • Training sessions do not have to be hours or half-day sessions, they can be short, 15 minute, half hour, or how ever long it takes to achieve the training objectives.

Please note that one training class is usually not comprehensive enough to cover all of the hazards found within a laboratory. Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors will find that it is necessary to use a combination of the options available to ensure their employees are properly trained.

EHS Training Programs:

EHS offers a number of training programs on a regular basis – such as the monthly “Laboratory Safety Training” – and offers a number of programs “Upon Request”. For any “Upon Request” training class, EHS can come to your building or laboratory and provide the training program for your laboratory group. All EHS provided training programs and attendance sheets are kept on file at the EHS office and entered into the Cornell Learning Management System.

Outside Vendor Training Programs:

Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors can provide training programs to their employees through contracts with outside training companies or product vendors. A number of vendors are willing to provide free training programs upon request. If using an outside company or vendor, be sure to ask for documentation including training content, date of training, copies of handouts, and the sign-in sheet. All of this documentation must be kept on file.

In-House Training Programs:

In-house training can include department provided training, and training by Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors. Training sessions can be stand-alone classes, on-the-job training, or short (15 minute) trainings incorporated as part of a laboratory group meeting. The key is to make sure the training is documented with a sign-in sheet.

Training Manuals and Booklets:

Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors can utilize training manuals, booklets, webpage downloads, etc., as part of an ongoing training program by simply having laboratory staff review the material, be given an opportunity to ask any questions, and sign off that they read and understood the material.

Training Videos:

Principal Investigators and laboratory supervisors can make use of videos to supplement training of their employees. As with any training, it is important to document the training took place by using a sign-in sheet. When videos are used, the training sign-in sheet should have the date, time, location, and name and running time of the video, in addition to signatures of those people who watched the video.

Web Based Training:

Web-based trainings are offered through CU Learn for faculty, staff and students (including undergraduates and graduates).  Blackboard can be used by visitors, guests or CU affiliates (USDA, BTI). 


6.2 Cornell Learning Management System (Top)

The Cornell Learning Management System is a database created to help employees, students, trainers, supervisors, and safety managers track safety training and keep required certifications current via the Internet. Using your Cornell University Net ID as a unique identifier, you can access different types of training information. As a user, you can view current classes being offered, register for classes, and keep a record of the training classes you have taken. With supervisor or safety manager access, you can assign specific training courses to your employees and verify their training history, in addition to other features. For information, see the EHS Training webpage.


6.3 Laboratory Safety Certificate Program (Top)

The Laboratory Safety Certificate Program is a voluntary program designed to encourage laboratory workers to broaden their safety knowledge by completing a variety of training programs related to laboratory safety, and to recognize and reward their accomplishment by granting a Laboratory Safety Certificate.
To qualify for a certificate, the applicant must complete a specified number of required and elective courses within a given time period. The courses may be taken as live classroom sessions or completed on-line. For more information, see the Laboratory Certificate Program webpage.


6.4 Research Administration Certification Program (Top)

Cornell University’s Research Administration Certification Program (RACP), developed in collaboration with a cross-campus advisory committee, and coordinated through a partnership between Office of Sponsored Programs and Division of Financial Affairs, is a professional development opportunity designed to educate Cornell staff about sponsored programs administration.

The purpose of the program is to develop and maintain a skilled cadre of research administration professionals within the university and to promote a culture of compliance and integrity. This program is recommended for staff whose work supports sponsored projects, particularly those new to the field or new to Cornell University.

The curriculum provides a high-level overview of key concepts related to sponsored programs administration at Cornell. The five day core training program, offered three times a year, is spread out over five weeks, with class one day per week (9:00 am – 4:00 pm). Participants attend lectures and use problem-based learning exercises to engage in real-world issues. In addition to the core courses, 15 hours of electives are required within one year and continuing education is also required. Those who attend all five days of RACP, achieve passing grades on exams and complete the required electives, receive certification. For more information, see the Office of Sponsored Programs - Research Administration Certification Program webpage.

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​Other Resources ​
OSHA Lab Standard OSHA Lab Standard Appendix A​
OSHA Lab Standard Appendix B OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits Topics Webpage
University Health and Safety Policy​EHS Online Training Programs
EHS Training Webpage​ Research Administration Certification Program
Laboratory Certificate Program Webpage​ Division of Financial Affairs
Office of Sponsored Programs​