Campus Safety and Security

Safety Responsibilities during Laboratory Principal Investigator Leaves/Absences

Section: Campus Safety and Security Policies
Policy Name: Safety Responsibilities during Laboratory Principal Investigator Leaves/Absences
Policy Owner: Executive Vice President
Responsible University Office: Office of Environmental Health and Safety
Origination Date: November, 2006
Legacy Policy Number: 7-50
  1. PURPOSETo ensure the safety of laboratory workers during periods when the laboratory principal investigator is absent.
    1. Laboratory Principal Investigator: A University employee who has been assigned responsibility for the oversight of laboratory operations in a given research space or environment. It is expected that these persons will be faculty or professional staff.
    2. Department Head: The University employee to whom the Laboratory Principal Investigator reports. This is normally the Department Chair or Director.
  3. BACKGROUNDThe University assigns responsibilities to each individual for conducting their activities in a safe and compliant manner. There are any number of situations where a Laboratory Principal Investigator may be absent from the lab. Examples of these situations include but are not limited to: sabbatical leaves, medical leaves, maternity/paternity leaves, vacations, unpaid summer interns, and FMLA qualifying leaves. It is critical that a qualified individual be identified to address the routine as well as unique safety concerns that may arise during such absences.

    Laboratory Principal Investigators hold increased responsibility for safety in laboratory and other research operations (e.g. field work) in that they must monitor and enforce safety requirements and practices to assure that faculty, students, staff, and visitors adhere to these protections. Department heads must audit the performance of the Laboratory Principal Investigator with respect to safety issues and address deficiencies as appropriate.

    1. Whenever a Laboratory Principal Investigator will not be present in the laboratory for an extended period of time it is their responsibility to designate a colleague to oversee their laboratory operations with respect to safety procedures and requirements. The person designated must be familiar with the hazards of the operations begin conducted in the lab or research environment and be empowered to address concerns as they arise. Examples could be a faculty member, the Department Chemical Hygiene Officer, a full-time research associate or limited term researcher; however, the individual must be a University of Delaware employee. Graduate students are not permitted to be designated as the responsible supervisor.
    2. If a Laboratory Principal Investigator experiences an unexpected medical leave, the responsibility to locate an appropriate responsible supervisor will lie with the Department Head.
    3. The Laboratory Principal Investigator must notify their Department head of who will be assuming responsibility for all safety aspects of their laboratory operations.
    4. The Department head and Laboratory Principal Investigator must be in agreement that the selected person has the experience, knowledge and background to assume the responsibilities.
    5. The Laboratory Principal Investigator must communicate the name of this responsible individual to the Department Safety Committee and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety as well as list the name and contact information of the responsible individual on the emergency contact card posted at the laboratory.

For further clarification or questions regarding this policy please contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 831-8475.