Chemical labelling is an integral part of creating a safe work environment in the laboratory. Being able to identify key components of various containers in the lab quickly is necessary for proper waste handling, responding appropriately to emergencies or spills, and is best practice for all users and visitors of the lab to be able to identity what they are looking at.
Appropriately labeling containers in a lab is governed by the lab standard and is detailed in the UMass Chemical Hygiene Plan. All containers (which include beakers, vials, and flasks) with contents, should have the name of the contents written in full. In the case of boxes or other larger containers that hold multiple individual smaller containers of similar materials, the box or larger container can be labeled in lieu of labeling individual containers. The only exception to labeling containers with the full name of the material is if the lab contains a chemical abbreviation chart posted prominently in the lab that includes the list of abbreviations used associated with the appropriate chemical name.
This template (which can be downloaded from the link at the top of this page) can be used as a starting point for an abbreviation key. It includes many common abbreviations found in the lab, but is not a comprehensive list. Be sure to add any common abbreviations used or subtract ones not used in the individual labs, where applicable! There is also a spot to list the lab name (e.g. Smith Lab) and room number. There is also a blank table to start from scratch, if desired, or if there are too many abbreviations for one page. This table will then allow the lab to use chemical abbreviations (as long as they are listed in the table and the table is posted prominently in the lab). It is a good idea to hang these tables in multiple places in the lab, near the workstations.
If you have additional questions about labeling, please review our chemical labeling video or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.