Faculty Handbook

Use of Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Hazards


The use of hazardous materials in research, teaching, and outreach activities is subject to state and federal laws and guidelines.  The Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies has been assigned responsibility to see that appropriate practices are followed where hazardous materials are involved, to maintain a safe environment for campus personnel, to protect the surrounding community, and to assure that MSU meets its obligations under the law.

Oversight of activities involving hazardous substances is provided by the Office of Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Safety (ORCBS), which reports to the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.  ORCBS is assisted by faculty committees in the areas of radiation safety, chemical safety, and biological safety.  The Radiation Safety Committee has responsibility and authority under federal law for specific actions.

It is University policy that faculty members and principal investigators (PIs) are responsible for the day-to-day safety and well-being of all personnel engaged in activities under their aegis.  Administrative officers, and ORCBS, are responsible for making available to faculty information needed to maintain a safe working environment, for providing safety training, for keeping project directors informed about changes in regulations, and for assaying laboratories and work areas for radiation, chemical, or biological hazards.

All individuals who work with hazardous substances must accept shared responsibility for operating in a safe manner once they have been informed (a) about the extent of risk and (b) about safe procedures that should be followed.

To support these University policies, a number of responsibilities are assigned to the project director.  The following list of project director responsibilities is not necessarily inclusive.  Up-to-date information is available from the Office of Radiation, Chemical and Biological Safety.

In general, the project director must:

  1. Be aware of appropriate safety policies, procedures, and guidelines that apply to the project; if in doubt about any aspect of project safety, contact ORCBS to obtain relevant information.
  2. Insure that all personnel under his or her supervision have been instructed with regard to the general safety requirements of laboratory or work area operations, such as those generally associated with Right-to-Know requirements; post warnings and restrict entry to work areas containing potentially hazardous materials; properly label and store containers of hazardous materials; maintain appropriate safety training records (also called informed employee consent statements).
  3. Be aware of special hazards that may be inherent in a specific activity, and which may not be covered by the general program of laboratory safety, inform all personnel under her or his supervision of those unique hazards, and provide opportunities for appropriate special training.
  4. Understand the risks and regulations associated with receipt and subsequent distribution of all hazardous materials.  Federal and state regulations control and regulate the use, storage, transport, and disposal of certain chemicals, venomous animals, infectious agents, pharmaceuticals, recombinant DNA, genetically engineered organisms, and radioactive materials. PIs must be aware of the known dangers in working with particularly hazardous materials, and must take the necessary protective and containment measures, must minimize worker exposures to potentially hazardous materials, and must follow applicable waste disposal regulations.
  5. Request and acquire approval from relevant University committees or Offices before initiating teaching, research, or service activities that involve regulated radioactive, chemical, or biological materials.
  6. Be informed as to whether a spill or release of a regulated or controlled material is of a magnitude that ORCBS should be notified, and to notify ORCBS immediately when so required; notify ORCBS prior to  vacating or closing out a laboratory or other work area containing hazardous radioactive, chemical, or biological materials.

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