This oversight procedure is designed to promote safety in the laboratory workplace and compliance with worker safety, environmental protection, and fire prevention regulations as well as to implement UVM's Laboratory Health & Safety Policy.

In accordance with UVM's Laboratory Health and Safety Policy:

  • The supervisor (PI) of each lab is responsible for assuring that the lab is operated in a safe and compliant manner.
  • The Department Chair and Dean's Office share a responsibility for oversight of the PI and the research activities.
  • RMS, the VP for Operations and Public Safety, and the VP for Research office share a responsibility for providing support, systems, and tools to aid in these safety and compliance efforts.
  • UVM’s Chief Compliance Officer receives reports of uncorrected safety and compliance issues and is responsible for overseeing investigations into these reports.

This oversight partnership can be used effectively to manage safety and regulatory issues without placing an unmanageable burden on any personnel.

Lab Safety Self-Inspections

Properly conducted, lab self-inspections assure that healthful working conditions are maintained and that regulatory compliance is achieved. Lab personnel are expected to look critically at all of their lab spaces each month and document findings on the Self-Inspection Checklist.

Specific labs may have issues that are not addressed by this checklist. Those lab personnel should work with RMS staff to modify this checklist to best fit their specific safety and compliance needs.

Lab Safety Audits

RMS personnel perform laboratory safety audits of the labs. These audits:

  • Provide feedback to lab personnel regarding their health, safety, and compliance efforts;
  • Remedy lab environments that need improvement; and
  • Inform the UVM administration regarding potential risks.

Audits will be conducted following a risk-based schedule. The priority level of a lab is assigned by RMS personnel and is determined using the following guidlines:

High Priority labs are audited once each calendar year. 

  • High hazard activities are conducted or high hazard materials are used (such as pyrophoric or highly toxic chemicals) in the professional judgment of Safety personnel;
  • The lab has been identified by an external entity (e.g. Vermont DEC, BFD) as areas that show a risk of non-compliance;
  • An incident has already occurred that shows a lack of preparedness, training, or conformance; or
  • Labs with poor past performance.

Low Priority labs are audited at least once in every 3 years. 

  • Relatively low hazard materials and operations are used; and
  • The lab has a history of positive conformance with safety, health, and environmental requirements.

Any lab that is conscientiously conducting self-inspections should have minimal corrective actions identified during a safety audit.

Audit Notification and Response

Audit results will be communicated to UVM's PIs, Department Chairs, College Deans, VP for Finance and Administration, VP for Research, and Chief Compliance Officer as follows:

Labs Requiring Immediate Intervention are identified in an audit as having high likelihood of an adverse occurrence with serious consequences. RMS auditors will communicate these situations immediately to the PI, Chair, College Dean, VP for Finance and Administration, VP for Research, and Chief Compliance Officer. The Chair and/or Dean are responsible for ensuring that the work environment is made safe before lab activities can continue. The Director of RMS, the Senior Assistant Director for Health and Safety, the Director and Radiation Safety Officer, or University Police have the authority to, at their sole discretion, close a laboratory should hazardous conditions present an imminent threat of injury to employees or students or significant damage to university property or the environment. The cost of correcting safety and related compliance issues shall ordinarily be the responsibility of the academic unit, College or School; however, application may be made to the Provost and Senior VP and to the VP for Finance and Administration for funding assistance.

Labs requiring corrective action are identified as having areas of non-compliance without an obvious and immediate danger. PIs and RMS personnel are notified of necessary corrective actions that were identified during the audit.  Safety personnel will work with the PI or his or her designee to develop a compliance schedule, generally not to exceed two weeks, and communicate this to the PI.  Corrective actions are recorded when complete. If corrective actions are not completed on schedule, then the Department Chair will be notified.  If corrective actions remain uncompleted according to the schedule, the College Dean will also be notified, along with the VP for Finance and Administration, VP for Research, and Chief Compliance Officer.

Labs that achieve excellence will be recognized in reports by RMS to Department Chairs, College Deans, VP for Finance and Administration, VP for Research, and Chief Compliance Officer.

All lab audit results will be reported in annual reports by RMS to appropriate Department Chairs, College Deans, VP for Finance and Administration, VP for Research, and Chief Compliance Officer. RMS will include in these reports a list of all labs audited within the department or college during the time period (or a notice that no labs were audited) along with results of audits and results of compliance schedules when applicable. If possible, the report will include a list of all labs that exist within that department or college regardless of audit status.

Responding to Lab Audit in SciShield

Lab safety audits are conducted by EHS staff on a routine basis. (See details above.)

  • Only the PI can initally respond to a lab safety audit.


More info coming soon.