Stanford University

Lab Responsibilities

PI’s are the single most important element for developing and sustaining a strong, proactive laboratory safety culture and must clearly communicate and reinforce to everyone within their groups that safety within their research laboratory is a top priority and define roles, responsibilities, authority and accountability for safety within their laboratory.

At Stanford University we are actively working every day to grow and reinforce awareness of safety issues on campus. This video is the first in a series that addresses key drivers of safety culture at Stanford.

Safety as a Core Value in Stanford Labs

At Stanford University, our institutional leaders in research play a critical role in supporting the value and importance of safety in laboratory research. Stanford’s Dean of Research Ann Arvin, and Dean of Engineering Persis Drell, describe the importance and value of safety in academic research at Stanford University.

Working with Hazardous Chemicals

Per Stanford University’s Chemical Hygiene Plan, laboratory personnel who work with hazardous chemicals have certain responsibilities, listed below. This includes both employee and non-employee personnel who perform research activities, and covers individuals employed in the laboratory who may be exposed during their assignments. Employees include faculty and staff, and non-employees may include visiting scholars. Both groups may also include research associates, undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers, depending on their employment status.

As you implement the following responsibilities, consult with the PI and/or laboratory supervisor:

  • Follow the CHP and any individual Laboratory Safety Plan.
  • Follow oral and written laboratory safety rules, regulations, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) required for the tasks assigned.
  • Keep work areas safe and uncluttered.
  • Review and understand chemical hazards and hazards of laboratory procedures prior to conducting work.
  • Use appropriate measures to control identified hazards, including consistent and proper use of engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and administrative controls.
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of personal protective equipment.
  • Gain approval from the PI or lab supervisor before using restricted chemicals, which include:
    • Toxic gases regulated by Santa Clara County (e.g. diazomethane, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride (anhydrous), and nickel carbonyl)
    • Dimethylmercury
  • Consult with the PI or laboratory supervisor prior to using higher-risk chemicals or performing higher-risk operations. Take special safety precautions.
  • Promptly report accidents and unsafe conditions to the PI or laboratory supervisor.
  • Complete all required health and safety training.
  • Participate in the medical surveillance program, when required.
  • Inform the PI or laboratory supervisor of any work modification ordered by a physician as a result of medical surveillance, occupational injury, or exposure.

In addition to the above responsibilities, laboratory personnel working autonomously or performing independent research must also:

  • Provide the PI or laboratory supervisor with a written scope of work for their proposed research.
  • Notify and consult in advance with the PI or laboratory supervisor if they intend to deviate from their written scope or scale of work.
  • Prepare SOPs and perform literature searches relevant to safety and health that are appropriate for their work.
  • Provide appropriate oversight, training, and safety information to any laboratory personnel they supervise or direct.

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