Roles and Responsibilities

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.

Laboratory Personnel

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.


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