Research Safety Responsibilities

The Division of Research Safety (DRS) is committed to assisting campus units in identifying and managing biological, chemical, and radiological hazards. DRS provides advice and technical assistance in using these materials safely and facilitates the campus community’s understanding of and compliance with required regulations.

In partnership with campus safety oversight committees, DRS develops, implements, and oversees comprehensive safety programs and policies designed to ensure the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and visitors; to protect the environment; and to facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements. However, unit heads, Principal Investigators (PIs), and supervisors remain responsible for promoting safety and ensuring regulatory compliance in their research area.

Information about environmental health and safety regulatory requirements and safety programs can be obtained from the Division of Research Safety.

Research safety programs and policies include, but are not limited to, the following:

General Laboratory Safety and Security

Biological, chemical, and radiological hazards should be identified and safely managed in compliance with regulatory requirements. Safe work practices that eliminate or effectively reduce the risk for exposure to harmful substances should be developed and established. When the risk cannot be eliminated, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided to control exposure. The laboratory should be kept clean and orderly, and eating and drinking should be prohibited from areas not officially designated as safe for food and drink. Working alone with hazardous materials should either not be allowed or must be adequately monitored. In addition, the laboratory should be kept locked when unoccupied and materials that are toxic, hazardous, or radioactive must be kept secure at all times. Each laboratory should have a Lab Safety Manual that identifies hazards in the laboratory and provides information about safety and emergency response procedures. More information on lab safety plans ».

Research Safety Training

All laboratory personnel should receive appropriate training for working with identified hazards. This includes training in hazard management, PPE, laboratory procedures, and spill prevention and control. The PI or supervisor is responsible for providing training relevant to their laboratory and specific hazards. All new faculty, staff, and students who work in laboratory space where biological, chemical, or radiological materials are used are required to complete the DRS General Lab Safety training online prior to working with the materials or within one month. Additional training is available from DRS for specific hazards and procedures. More information on safety training ».

Setting up a Laboratory

Laboratories should be equipped with furniture and equipment suitable to the hazards in the laboratory. Equipment should be calibrated, certified, and routinely maintained, as appropriate. Procedures should also be established for regular decontamination of equipment and laboratory surfaces. Standard Operating Procedures should be developed and implemented for the use, operation, and maintenance of the equipment, as appropriate. More information on setting up a laboratory ».

Emergency Response Procedures and Spill Clean-up

All laboratories should have a plan for dealing with emergencies and spills that is made known to everyone in the laboratory. Information on emergency door signs, such as potential hazards and contact information, should be reviewed regularly and updated if necessary. Appropriate materials should be available to clean up spills and all persons using biological, chemical, and radiological materials should receive spill response training. Units are responsible for cleaning up spills of biological, chemical, and radiological materials. If units are unable to implement this responsibility in a timely fashion or do not have the appropriate materials or equipment, campus administration may direct DRS to make arrangements for the clean up on a cost reimbursement basis. More information on emergency spill response ».

Research Project Registration

Projects involving hazardous biological materials and recombinant DNA must be registered with the Institutional Biosafety Committee. Research using radiation sources must be performed under an approved radiation permit, which can be obtained from DRS.

Hazardous Waste Disposal

Biological, chemical, and radiological waste should be collected, stored, treated, managed, and disposed of properly. DRS assists campus units by collecting, treating, and disposing certain kinds of hazardous waste. More information about hazardous waste disposal ».

Closeout Procedures in Laboratories

Prior to relocation or departure from campus, all biological, chemical, or radiological materials must be removed from the laboratory and disposed of according to DRS guidelines. Chemicals (except Drug Enforcement Agency Controlled Substances) that are in good condition may be transferred to another active laboratory that agrees to accept them. All work surfaces should be cleaned and decontaminated, as appropriate, and the laboratory should be cleaned in preparation for the next occupant. Laboratories with radiological materials should also arrange for a final survey of the area by the DRS Radiation Safety staff prior to relocation or departure. If an area is vacated by a researcher prior to the removal of biological, chemical, or radiological materials, the campus unit will be responsible for removing those materials and decontaminating accessible surfaces. If units are unable to implement this responsibility, campus administration may direct DRS to make arrangements on a cost reimbursement basis to identify, decontaminate, and dispose of hazardous materials. More information on closeout procedures in laboratories ».

Further questions concerning this policy should be directed to the Division of Research Safety, 333-2755.