Lab Supervisor's Responsibilities for Safety
Lab supervisors (e.g. PIs) have direct responsibility for the safety of their workers under departmental policy. This page gives an overview of some specific tasks you may be responsible for. Note that you may delegate specific tasks, but you can not delegate your supervisory responsibilities for safety. Items below are not meant to be a list of all possible safety responsibilities.
In general, workers need to be made aware of the significant hazards of their workplace through documented training. Appropriate safe work practices must be conveyed, particularly for: new employees; employees given new work assignments for which training has not been previously received; when new hazards are introduced to the workplace, etc. Some specific training areas:
EH&S Training: lab safety related classes that aid in meeting training responsibilities. Some of these classes are mandatory when certain materials are used (e.g. radiation), or per departmental policy (e.g. General Lab Safety Class).
Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP): Each lab using chemicals needs a written CHP per OSHA. Intent of the CHP is to reduce employee exposure to chemicals. Template forms for developing your CHP are accessed via the above link. The focus of most CHPs is on Particularly Hazardous Substances: Carcinogens, Reproductive Toxins and Acute Toxins. CHP must be shared with workers and updated at least annually.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): Per OSHA, all chemical users must know what an MSDS is; their relevance to their health and safety; and how to access them. Electronic access is acceptable - all workers should bookmark the MSDS site.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Appropriate use of gloves, eyewear, lab coats, section 4-11 etc. should generally be addressed in your CHP. By law the employer needs to provide any PPE that is required for the job.
Authorizations: certain types of work require authorizations from a campus committee or EH&S. Examples: Ionizing radiation; Infectious agents; Human or primate fluids/tissues; Toxic or pyrophoric gases; Pyrophoric solids/liquids, Large volumes of certain chemicals; Respirators; SCUBA diving. Modifications to the infrastructure of your spaces (e.g. utilities, walls) also requires authorization from Facilities Management and the Fire Marshal. Contact EH&S regarding authorizations for any of the above.
Fire Reporting: All fires must be promptly reported to the campus Dispatcher (911) even if the fire is out, especially if there is property damage, injury or extinguisher usage. Both State Fire and SB County Fire law require all fires be reported immediately even if the fire is out.
Incident Reporting: All work-related injuries must be promptly reported through your departmental office and an accident reporting form filed with the Vice President for Business Affairs.
Inspections: Per OSHA and the State Fire Marshal, labs must do periodic self-inspections (recommend at least twice a year). EH&S does annual lab inspections per campus agreement with SB County Fire.
Waste disposal: Generation of chemical waste and radioactive waste are heavily regulated and penalties for non-compliance can be severe. Chemical wastes must be properly labeled at the time of initial generation and disposed of via EH&S within 9 months.