Laboratory Supervisors and Lab Safety Officers play critical roles in maintaining a culture of safety at UVM.
The ultimate goal is to ensure the safety of workers while remaining in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. UVM strives to promote on-going research productivity and excellence in education.
Supervisors are required to:
- Set a standard for behavior and be a safety role model,
- Provide safety oversight of day-to-day laboratory operations,
- Incorporate safety discussions into lab group meetings for continuous improvement of best safety practices.
Supervisors are responsible for participating in UVM's Laboratory Safety Program and providing a safe work environment for everyone within their area. While some safety tasks can be delegated to a Laboratory Safety Officer, the Laboratory Supervisor bears the ultimately responsibility for carrying out those tasks and ensuring safe laboratory conditions.
UVM Risk Management & Safety can provide tools and resources to support laboratory work. The online training entitled: Laboratory Roles & Responsibilities provides valuable information regarding the roles and responsibilities of UVM Laboratory Supervisors. All Supervisors are required to complete this training.
Laboratory Supervisors' responsibilities include:
Laboratory audits are conducted by the Risk Management & Safety Office on a routine basis. It is the responsibility of the Lab Supervisor to complete any required action items assigned during that audit. Questions relating to the required corrective actions can be directed to your Lab Safety Coordinator. More information on UVM Laboratory Audits and LabCliq Software can be found on our Lab Audit webpage.
If you work in a lab with several members in the overall lab group, it makes sense to designate a Lab Safety Officer. The lab safety officer is a part of the lab's quality team. Their role is to improve the lab's safety culture using education, training and coaching to reduce the number of incidents, injuries and biohazard or chemical spills. They liaison with Risk Management & Safety and coordinate annual refresher trainings as needed, orient new lab staff as they begin working and complete the required monthly self-inspections of the lab area(s). This frees up time for the Principal Investigator to continue focusing on getting grant funding and publishing to keep their research going.
Specific duties of the LSO may include the following:
- Oversight of University lab safety policies and procedures. Continuing staff education of these policies is also important as regular awareness always improves the level of safety culture.
- Management of employee injuries and exposures. This would include following up with occurrences, looking at trends and making engineering or work practice control changes if necessary, and requesting exposure monitors for those who work with specific hazardous materials of concern.
- Monthly lab safety inspections, including fire and electrical safety, ergonomics, chemical hygiene, general housekeeping, waste management, personal protective equipment, and infection prevention.
- Making sure everyone in the lab has lab-specific training, emergency spill response training, fire extinguisher training, knows what to do in an evacuation or fire drill, and several other topics.
Often, these safety responsibilities are in addition to their normal bench duties. LSO's assist in following up with audit deficiencies, incident follow-up and by acting as safety role models for other lab staff. Large labs might even designate a safety representative for each shift.
April 8, 2014
Meeting Summary Notes
UVM often hosts visiting researchers and students within our labs, especially during the summertime months. There are a few actions required of lab supervisors to accommodate this:
- MOU: All personnel working within UVM’s labs must be affiliated with UVM, either as employees, students enrolled in a class and/or degree program, or through a “Memorandum of Understanding.” See UVM's Lab Safety Policy webpage for the “Visiting Worker MOU” (bottom of page under Forms/Guidelines).
- Minors: If the researcher is less than 18 years of age, then UVM’s policy for “Minors in Laboratories” applies. A link to this policy, as well as the “Minors in Labs Permission Form” are also on UVM's Lab Safety Policy webpage.
- Training: UVM’s compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations is detailed within our Chemical Hygiene Plan, Environmental Management Plan and related trainings, even visiting lab workers must complete the trainings detailed on UVM's Laboratory Safety Training webpage.
- Protocols: Protocols approved through the RSC, IBC, IACUC and IRB do not automatically include changes in research personnel or in research spaces. Lab Supervisors and visiting researchers may have protocols that need to be updated and reviewed to accommodate these changes.
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