Chemical Hygiene Officer

The responsibilities of this position require the District Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) to:

  • Develop and implement the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and the safety program for the district, including professional development and safety training, reporting, and other functions noted here;
  • Ensure that employees have received appropriate safety training that is grade and discipline-specific to the courses being taught and has been properly documented for insurance and liability purposes;
  • Ensure that employees have access to the Chemical Hygiene Plan, SDS (safety data sheets) and other suitable reference materials in order to provide a safer teaching and learning environment;
  • Work with administrators and teachers to develop and implement the district approved safety program and make adjustments as necessary based on an abundance of safety and risk mitigation;
  • Monitor the procurement, use, and disposal of chemicals used in the schools’ science and STEM laboratory programs. This can include creation of a ‘banned’ or an ‘approved’ chemical listing;
  • Assure that inspections of equipment and space in the laboratory are performed when appropriate and that accurate records of OH&S physical inspections are maintained;
  • Provide technical assistance to schools and employees on the Chemical Hygiene Plan based on legal and professional standards found in OSHA, NFPA, NIOSH, and others; (see reference links below)
  • Assure that the Chemical Hygiene Plan is reviewed at least annually and revised as needed, so that it is always in compliance with current legal requirements and safer, professional standards-based practices;
  • Make decisions regarding requests to use chemicals identified as explosive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, highly toxic, or otherwise unsuitable for general school laboratories;
  • Determine the need for personal protective equipment beyond that specified for general laboratory use based on the activities being performed and ensuring that there is PPE for all individuals in the lab;
  • Implement appropriate training with regard to chemical hygiene for all district employees whose normal work locations include laboratory areas;
  • Provide regular, formal chemical hygiene and housekeeping inspections;
  • Provide regular, formal inspections on safety infrastructure including eye wash stations, drench showers, fume hoods, ventilation systems, fire prevention equipment, and PPE supplies;
  • Complete an annual physical inspection in each chemical store room and laboratory, prep area and facility in the science department and file this inspection document with OSHA before July 1 each year;
  • Coordinate requests for acquisition, use or disposal of chemicals identified as explosive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, highly toxic, or otherwise unsuitable for general school laboratories;

More information about the role and responsibilities of a CHO/EHO can be found here:

Laboratory Safety: OSHA Laboratory Standard OSHA’s Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450), referred to as the Laboratory standard, covers laboratories where chemical manipulation generally involves small amounts of a limited variety of chemicals.  This ‘Lab Standard’ applies to all hazardous chemicals meeting the definition of “laboratory use” and having the potential for worker exposure.  This means school laboratories and prep rooms.   (since January 1991)

  • OSHA states the employer is required to appoint a chemical hygiene officer. You cannot use an outside consultant – must be an employee.
  • OSHA defines the Chemical Hygiene Officer as “an employee who is designated by the employer, and who is qualified by training or experience, to provide technical guidance in the development and implementation of the provisions of the Chemical Hygiene Plan.”
  • In those schools where the employer has not appointed a CHO, the superintendent of schools has the responsibility. Most superintendents are unaware of this fact, and lack the technical and safety precursor qualifications needed for such a position but are default CHO’s …. And are accountable for all of the responsibilities listed above.

References for Safety Codes, Laws, and Recognized Authorities in this area: