A sustainable safety culture in research is built on leadership engagement, hazard awareness, enhanced communication, and behavior changes. Everyone involved has a role in fostering and maintaining a safe environment and this policy assigns related responsibilities.
Principal Investigator or Laboratory Supervisor Responsibilities
The Principal Investigator (PI) or laboratory supervisor shall ensure that the laboratory workers using compressed or liquefied gases and cryogenic liquids are informed of the hazards of chemicals present in their work area. Specifically, the PI or laboratory supervisor shall:
- Ensure that workers know and follow the guidelines for compressed and liquefied gases.
- Determine the required levels of protective apparel and equipment, and availability.
- Assure that the quantity of compressed and liquefied gases does not exceed Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQs) or Restricted Commodity Thresholds of Consequence.
- Develop standard operating procedures and a hazard release risk assessment for high hazard gases.
- Maintain an up-to-date inventory record.
- Properly classify and record the acquisition of any Restricted Commodity within 30 days in the Northwestern Safety Information System (NSIS).
- Ensure that facilities and training for use of any material being ordered are adequate.
- Maintain Safety Data Sheets or other medical data sheet for exposure symptoms and medical treatment for toxic gases. Inform the Emergency Medical Service providers of any unique supplies that are necessary for treatment.
The PI or laboratory supervisor shall develop a written response protocol for activation of any emergency alarm system that is mutually agreed upon by the University Police Department (UPD), the Office of Risk Management (ORM), Research Safety, and Facilities Management (FM) and disseminate the protocol to the designated responders. Research Safety shall work with the PI or laboratory supervisor to provide hazard awareness training to designated Northwestern first responders.
The PI or laboratory supervisor shall also ensure that all laboratory workers using compressed or liquefied gases and cryogenic liquids attend mandatory Laboratory Safety training in accordance with the Research Safety Training program. Training shall be conducted at the time of the laboratory worker's initial assignment to a work area where compressed or liquefied gases are present and prior to assignments involving new exposure situations.
Laboratory Worker Responsibilities
Laboratory workers shall:
- Conduct all work with compressed or liquefied gases and cryogenic liquids in accordance with standard operating procedures.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Check that laboratory safety equipment indicator lights show normal conditions (gas sensors, ventilation systems).
- Ensure that access to safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and safety showers are not blocked.
- Notify the PI/Supervisor and Research Safety of any accidents, incidents involving material releases, and adverse health, safety, and environmental conditions.
- Complete all assigned safety training certificates.
Office for Research Safety Responsiblities
The University's Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) is a designated Research Safety staff member. The CHO or other designated Research Safety personnel shall:
- Monitor the maintenance of the chemical inventory program.
- Review and approve purchase requests for any Restricted Commodity.
- Maintain a list ofMAQs for each control zone.
- Develop and offer safety training modules.
- Assess the use of personal protective equipment.
- Provide guidance in environmental detection.
- Provide guidance and act as a resource to departmental safety committees and personnel.
- Assist in the development of specific standard operating and emergency response procedures.
- Review laboratory designs.
- On a monthly basis, report the Chemicals oflnterest inventory to UPD.
Facilities Management Responsibilities
The designated Facilities Management (FM) project manager shall coordinate the review of gas installation design and assist in developing a mutually agreed-upon emergency response plan.
FM Operations shall complete the periodic maintenance of required gas detection and emergency alarm systems that are designed and installed through FM.
FM shall also maintain a record of control area boundaries.
University Police Responsibilities
UPD staffs a central station 24/7 and follows the mutually agreed-upon response protocol in case of an alarm activation of a required emergency alarm system.
Office of Risk Management Responsibilities
ORM staff review laboratory designs and assist in the development of emergency response procedures.