Research Safety

Biological Safety

Within the scope of overall laboratory hazardous materials and their safe use, biohazards warrant special consideration and attention. OSEH’s Biological Safety Program Area has specific oversight, support, and reporting responsibilities for biosafety that are required under university standards, federal regulations and sponsored research contracts. OSEH promotes research safety and assures sound laboratory management.

Biological Safety Services
The Institutional Biosafety Officer (BSO) provides professional oversight and consultation for biohazardous research operations. Infectious disease research and associated hazards are overseen as a regulatory effort under the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations. Recombinant DNA (genetic engineering and gene therapy) are overseen for compliance with the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guidelines under the Vice President for Research. More than 300 Biosafety Level 2 recombinant & infectious agent labs are inspected and reviewed under this program.

Biocontainment Facility Certification: Under the purview of the BSO are all Bio-Safety Level 3 "containment" labs, designed specifically for high hazard work with infectious agents. Management and performance of these containment facilities are held to higher standards and are closely monitored for compliance with the Biosafety Manual and other applicable guidelines.

Certification Services
OSEH provides certification and maintenance services for 1,800 chemical fume hoods and 700 biosafety cabinets to assure they contain the hazards as designed. Safety performance of these units depends on airflow rates that must fall between fairly narrow boundaries.

Hazardous Procedures Manual & Safety Training Development
Supervisors of University research employees are required to provide specific training on the occupational risks associated with their research materials and methods, as well as written safety program manuals and standard operating procedures. OSEH provides university standards for these manuals and SOP’s, in addition to the base-line safety training that applies to all laboratory research employees at the university. These services increase awareness of research risks and reduce the regulatory burden on research operations.

Research Facility Planning & Design
OSEH assists facilities and renovation engineers in planning high-quality laboratory space to support successful research projects. Flexibility and energy efficiency are important components of the planning process. Application of local exhaust ventilation equipment, specialty containment equipment, emergency eyewash stations, chemical storage features, and other design features are considered to reduce workplace risks.

Safety Coordinators
Safety Coordinators, appointed by their Director or Department Chair, assist OSEH by receiving and distributing safety-related outreach materials that are constantly generated and updated. The Coordinators function as a safety information resource to their constituents. Information on this important program is available in an OSEH Guideline