University of minnesota

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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA Dept. of Environmental Health and Safety

  • New RSO Training

  • November 2003

Responsibilities - President, Vice Presidents, Chancellors

  • Promote safety in all activities

  • Provide facilities that meet University standards for work with hazardous materials

  • Ensure that deans and department heads support Research Safety Program

Responsibilities – Deans, Department Heads and Directors

  • Identify an RSO

  • Allow RSO adequate time to carry out responsibilities

  • Ensure that college or department complies with safety policies and procedures

Responsibilities – Supervisors/Principal Investigators

  • Identify specific hazards of lab operations

  • Provide written SOPs to control hazards

  • Train employees on hazards and SOPs

  • Conduct lab audits

  • Enforce safety procedures

  • Investigate accidents

Responsibilities – Grad Students, Post Docs and Research Workers

  • Attend safety training

  • Follow safety procedures

  • Report hazardous conditions

Responsibilities – Department of Environmental Health and Safety

  • Train RSOs on responsibilities and key safety policies

  • Prepare and update University’s generic research safety plan

  • Provide technical resources, e.g., RSO Toolkit

  • Monitor and report compliance progress

Research Safety Officer Responsibilities

  • Act as a liaison

  • Know the rules

  • Implement a Research Safety Plan

  • Coordinate training

  • Perform audits

  • Keep records

Who should be an RSO?

  • Technical background to consult with faculty on their research

  • Authority to review hazards with PI’s and recommend corrections

  • Adequate time to meet RSO responsibilities

RSO Relationships

  • Principal Investigator

    • Supervisor of research lab/project
    • Provide safe work area
  • DEHS

    • Technical support
    • Compliance assistance

RSO responsibilities vary

  • Department priorities vary

  • Safety committee is helpful

  • DEHS will assist where necessary

Research Compliance

  • Lab audits – report results to PI

  • Continued non-compliance reported to DEHS and unit head

  • RSO in conjunction with DEHS and unit head can halt imminent hazard

DEHS Assistance

  • Random inspections and review of compliance records

  • Ongoing non-compliance – report and meet with department head or dean

  • Serious violations – report to Vice President for Research

Serious Violations

    • High probability of injury or environmental damage
    • Violation of state or federal law
    • Pattern of non-compliance
    • Large cost involved

Responsibilities – Research Safety Officers

  • RSO Roles and Responsibilities are described at:


  • Next Presentation

Planning for Research Safety

  • Fall 2003

  • New RSO training

Written Safety Plan

  • Required by the federal Laboratory Safety Standard (Appendix A)

  • Purpose – to prevent overexposures (Appendix B)

  • Also addresses other federal, state and local regulations (Appendix C)

  • Laboratory/Research Safety Plan template

  • Tailor the template for your area of responsibility


  • Title ‘Department of _______________’

  • Detail who’s covered – fill out the table in Section 2.

  • Familiarize yourself with the Roles and Responsibilities in Section 4.

Standard Operating Procedures

  • Familiarize yourself with:

  • Chemical SOPs in Prudent Practices (Appendix D)

  • Controlled substances (

  • Biohazard procedures

  • Radiation procedures

  • Hazardous Waste Guidebook

  • Emergency procedures (Appendix E)

  • Laboratory-specific procedures (Appendix F)

Biosafety Compliance

  • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)


    • Recombinant DNA, Artificial Gene Transfer
    • Infectious Agents (bacteria, viruses, protozoans, fungi, etc.)
    • Biologically Derived Toxins
    • Select Agents

Select Agents

  • Grew out of concern about bioterrorism

  • Covers certain human, animal and plant pathogens and toxins

  • Federal regulation – big fines, jail time for non-compliance

  • Go to website ( and review appropriate materials

  • Contact Jim Lauer (626-5621, with questions

Criteria for Control Measures

  • Understand when to use:

  • Fume hoods/safety shields

  • Gloves, goggles, lab coats

  • Respirators

  • Prohibit:

  • Shorts (pants or skirts), sandals

  • Long/loose hair

Functioning Safety Equipment

  • Ensure certification tags are current (<1yr) for showers, eyewashes, fume hoods, fire extinguishers

  • Ensure users check eyewashes (weekly) and fume hoods (before each use)

  • Write in other safety systems, as necessary.

  • Check during regular laboratory audits (Appendix G)

Information and Training

  • Know required initial training topics

    • Covered by DEHS in 3rd Thursday training
    • web training resources
  • Identify additional department-specific topics to cover with your PIs and lab staff

  • Check out the a/v resources (Appendix H and I)

  • Assess activities in department and plan for update training

  • Document training (Appendix M)

Required Approvals

  • Review research within your department

  • Decide which chemicals/procedures require pre-approvals (consider Tables 1-5)

  • Decide on an approval process

  • Write it into this section

  • e.g.

Medical Consultation/Examination

  • Understand who is covered and when.

  • Learn the procedures for filing accident/injury reports (Appendix J):

  • Ensure researchers also know what to do.

  • Use Accident Investigation Worksheet (Appendix N) as an internal tool to make procedural changes

  • Be wary of volunteers and minors:


  • Understand the responsibilities up and down the chain of command.

  • Name the RSO and the safety committee members in this section

  • Read and understand the RSO duties

  • Delegate duties as necessary.

Additional Protective Measures

  • Consider the procedures listed in this section for ‘high hazard’ work.

  • Encourage PIs to incorporate these measures into their laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedures


  • Know the records that must be maintained: training, air monitoring, safety equipment checks, etc.

  • Work with your administrators to choose a system that will work for you.

  • Review and evaluate your safety plan annually, update as necessary.

  • Copy DEHS’s Chemical Hygiene Officer

Questions? Need assistance?

  • Contact DEHS (Appendix L)



  • Checklist on the web (Appendix G)

  • RSO audits (or delegates task) at least annually.

  • Report audit findings to PI.

  • Request response to deficiencies or

  • Follow up on findings.

Safety Equipment

  • Accessible, functioning, tested & dated annually


Chemical Storage

Toxic Gases


Waste Labeling

More Waste

And More Waste

Mechanical Equipment

Electrical Equipment


  • Check whether researchers can access their LSP, MSDSs, Hazardous Waste Guidebook, Radiation Protection Manual, etc.

  • Check for lab-specific SOPs

  • Check for current training records for all researchers (including PI)

  • Have researchers registered with IBC (if necessary)


  • Hazardous operations conducted in fume hood?

  • Fume hoods used properly?

  • Use of proper personal protective equipment?

  • Etc…..

Report Findings to PI

  • Ask for action/written response

  • Give a deadline (30 days is reasonable)

  • Identify what’s right as well as what needs improvement

Follow Up

  • If no response, contact the PI and cc: department head

  • If still no action contact DEHS

  • If still no action, DEHS contacts AHC

  • Next Presentation

Recordkeeping Models

  • Andy Phelan

  • Hazardous Waste Officer

RSO Responsibility: Recordkeeping

  • RSOs assure that departmental health and safety records and forms are kept in an adequate, accessible, and complete manner.

    • Training: RSOs maintain (or assure that dept maintains) and monitor for compliance records of all required training provided to research personnel in their department
    • Audits: RSO maintain records of the lab/research space audits they perform and their audit findings and follow-up actions.
    • Exposure Monitoring: RSO maintains file records of research spaces’ air monitoring and any findings.

Common Training Requirements

  • Laboratory Safety (Annual)

  • Hazardous Waste (Annual)

  • Bloodborne (& Other) Pathogens (Annual)

  • Radiation Safety (Annual)

    • maintained by “Permit Holders” in the lab
  • Hazardous Material Shipping (Every 3 years)

  • Controlled Substances (Once)

  • Other Safety, e.g.,

    • Forklift (Once then as needed)
    • Formaldehyde (Annually)

New Online Training Tutorials

Training Strategies

  • Use EHS 3rd Thursday sessions on Lab Safety, Hazardous Waste and Bloodborne Pathogens for initial (or recurring training)

  • Host department wide sessions, with option of including EHS as presenters, especially for recurring training

  • Have smaller group or lab sessions on a regular basis to fulfill requirements, especially recurring and required for Lab Safety

  • Direct staff to video and online training for new or recurring training

Factors in Keeping Track of Training

  • Number of trainees

  • Variety of training topics

  • Using EHS Training vs. Customized sessions

Keeping Track: Paper

  • The primary source document (aka “training document”) is usually kept with Department’s central files

    • Option here is to attach attendee list to a description of training and stores these in an accessible file
  • How does RSO know training status and compliance of the RSO assigned group?

  • For smaller RSO assigned groups, paper ledger should work fine

Computer Resources: PeopleSoft

  • Records of EHS 3rd Thursday training Log in, go to HR Reports, then to Training History and choose your area and department; check “all reports” and completed training

  • Can download to an Excel Spreadsheet and sort for “EHxxxx” courses

  • If those using the HW Video or Online training register their training, it will also be on the UM Report

PeopleSoft for All EHS Training?

  • Will need administrative person (or RSO!) to enter records of non-EHS training through PS

    • Departmental-wide training
    • Lab updates, videos, etc.
  • Three departments have tried this with some success, but does require upfront effort

    • But time involved in any tracking system

Spreadsheet and Simple Databases

  • Use Excel as a simple ledger for smaller RSO-assigned groups

  • For larger groups, problems keeping track of new and terminated trainees

    • Use downloads from Log in, go to HR Reports, then to “Personnel Detail Information” and choose your area and department to get active employee roster
    • Need to periodically update or merge rosters
      • See UM Reports on new and terminated employees

Type of Training

Annual Record 2003

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