All individuals conducting activities in university laboratories or on behalf of George Mason University must do so in a manner that will not adversely impact themselves, other laboratory personnel, George Mason University property, the surrounding community, or the environment. In accordance with University Policy 1406, all employees, students, visitors and volunteers are responsible for adhering to and familiarizing themselves with environmental health and safety policies, plans, procedures, guides, directives, and manuals.
Vice President for Research
The Office for Research oversees management of University research programs and ensures compliance with federal, state, and institutional regulations. Specific responsibilities of the Vice President for Research are to:
- Oversee management of safety and compliance activities for research at the university.
- Ensure resources are available to support laboratory and Environmental Health and Safety programs
- When necessary, enforce sanctions regarding laboratory noncompliance
Environmental Health & Safety Office (EHS)
EHS, operating as a division of Safety, Enterprise and Emergency Risk Management (SEERM), collaborates with the university community to promote health, safety, environmental protection, emergency preparedness and compliance with applicable regulations, guidelines, and best practices in order to sustain a healthful and safe working and learning environment. The EHS-Laboratory Safety Program works collaboratively with the university community to evaluate hazards and develop policies, procedures, and best practices regarding laboratory safety. Specific responsibilities of EHS with regard to laboratory safety are to:
- Maintain current knowledge of regulatory requirements, guidelines, and best practices for research and instructional laboratories.
- Manage safety and compliance programs for laboratory safety, occupational health and safety environmental protection, and emergency preparedness
- Provide technical assistance and guidance to Principal Investigators, laboratory supervisors, and laboratory personnel with the evaluation and control of laboratory hazards and regulatory compliance.
- Provide laboratory safety training for employees, laboratory workers, and ancillary personnel whose duties require them to conduct activities in university laboratories
- Conduct routine laboratory inspections to assure compliance with laboratory safety policies and procedures.
- Conduct exposure monitoring of laboratory spaces as warranted.
- Serve as the primary point of contact with local, state, and federal officials regarding applicable regulations and reporting requirements in the area of laboratory safety.
- Coordinate activities of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), Institutional Review committee (IRE), and the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC).
- Assist in planning, review, and approval of construction and renovation of university laboratory facilities.
- Execute authority to order remedial action or to temporarily or permanently suspend the right to operate an instructional and research laboratory when immediate or significant hazards present a danger to health, the environment, or property at George Mason University.
Principal Investigators and Laboratory Supervisors
Principal Investigators and Laboratory Supervisors are responsible for oversight of laboratory activities and personnel under their supervision. Specific responsibilities are to:
- Identify the hazards present in their laboratory and understand the risks associated with laboratory activities
- Determine appropriate procedures, safety controls and security for the laboratory as determined by risk assessment
- Follow and enforce university and laboratory-specific policies, practices, procedures and controls
- Provide prior approval for the use of restricted chemicals in their laboratory
- Consult with laboratory personnel on their use of higher risk chemicals such as Particularly Hazardous Substances or highly reactive chemicals or conducting higher risk experimental procedures so that special precautions may be taken
- Maintain Laboratory Specific Safety Plan, inventory records for hazardous substances, and safety data sheets (SDS)for chemicals present in the laboratory
- Provide access to the Laboratory Safety Manual, Laboratory Specific Safety Plan, and SDS library to laboratory personnel
- Provide adequate training to laboratory personnel to assure understanding of hazards, proper use of safety controls and proficiency in work procedures
- Maintain in functional working order appropriate work place engineering controls and safety equipment
- Follow and enforce the use of personal protective equipment in keeping with university requirements and the Laboratory Specific Safety Plan
- Restrict access to the laboratory to trained, authorized individuals
- Provide resources necessary to maintain safety in the laboratory
- Report laboratory incidents promptly and in accordance with university procedures.
It is the responsibility of all laboratory personnel to conduct laboratory work and activities in a manner that will not adversely impact themselves, other laboratory personnel, the surrounding community, or the environment. Specific responsibilities are to:
- Be familiar with the hazards present in the laboratory and understand the risks associated with their work
- Follow University and Laboratory-specific policies, practices procedures, and safety controls
- Complete all required laboratory safety training.
- Obtain approval from the PI/LS for all work involving restricted chemicals or particularly hazardous substances.
- Know the location and how to use the Laboratory Safety Manual, Laboratory Specific Safety Plan and SDS library:
- Communicate instances of spills, accidents, near-miss accidents, and unsafe work conditions to PI/LS and EHS.
- Communicate instances of known or suspected exposures to PI/LS and EHS.
The Laboratory Safety Manual provides guidance on the safe handling of laboratory material from acquisition to disposal in accordance with U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 29, part 1910.1450 and outlines policies and procedures designed to optimize safety, minimize risk and maintain compliance with Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements. The manual, along with the Laboratory-Specific Safety Plan serves as the chemical hygiene plan for George Mason University and applies to George Mason University research and instructional laboratories located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Manual is accessible to laboratory personnel via the EHS website.
The Laboratory Safety Manual is updated as necessary to reflect changes in the Laboratory Safety Program, university policies and procedures, and governmental regulations. Please direct any questions about the Laboratory Safety Manual and its content to the Environmental Health and Safety Office.
Committment to Safety
Message from the Vice President for Research and the Environmental Health and Safety Office
Dear Fellow Patriots,
George Mason University is committed to providing a safe and healthful environment for staff, students, and affiliates. The University strives to foster a strong, positive safety culture where all members of the Patriot Community are empowered to actively engage in the identification of safety concerns, development and implementation of safety controls and continual evaluation and improvement of the safety of the university. Nowhere is safety more critical than in our instructional and research laboratories. University leadership recognizes the unique hazards present in research and instructional laboratories and is committed to providing the resources necessary to assure the safety of laboratory workers and the laboratory environment.
The Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS) provide services that support and promote a safe and healthful environment and works cooperatively with the Mason Community to assure the safest possible conditions for all research and instructional spaces.
Vice President for Research
Assistant Vice President, Safety, Emergency, & Enterprise Risk Management
Director, Environmental Health & Laboratory Safety
Assistant Director, Laboratory Safety
Safety Culture in University Laboratories
Resources considered in development of the manual include:
- Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Research Laboratories
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA and Synthetic Nucleic Acids
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Office of Biotechnology Activities
- Prudent Practices in the Laboratory
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United States Department of Transportation
- Virginia Department of Health
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
- Occupational Safety and Health Association Laboratory Safety Guidance