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UIC Official Announcement

UIC is recognized around the world as a top-tier research university. Our work is groundbreaking across the full spectrum of research—from lifesaving advances in medical technology to transformational work on sustainability and the environment. You and the other members of your research teams are the common denominator underlying our research success. You bring unparalleled experience, wisdom and creativity to the table each and every day.

Another key component of our success is our Principal Investigators’ (PI) focus on lab safety. As you are aware, PIs are responsible for the safety of everyone in their labs. By being proactive in lab safety, PIs convey to research team members that they are valued and critical to research efforts.

As we begin 2016 and you refine your research goals and objectives for the new year, I ask that you rededicate your commitment to lab safety. In particular, take a fresh look at your safety protocols to make sure they are both up-to-date and adequate. To help, the following list provides important steps you should take to make sure your people and your labs are as safe as they can be. 


Steps for PIs and Lab Managers to Create a Safer Lab

Maintain a Strong Safety Culture in Your Lab - Two very visible actions are to 1) ensure all laboratory workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) and 2) start every meeting with your lab group with a “safety minute.” Starting every meeting with a short safety message will keep everyone’s focus on lab safety.
Provide and Document Training - All UIC employees, as well as volunteers and students that work in a “wet” lab, must be trained by their PI on the dangers of chemical hazards, biological toxins, and occupational hazards associated with their lab. See the UIC Safety Training Matrix for Laboratory Personnel for details regarding when and for whom training is necessary. Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) training courses are found at  

Complete the UIC Laboratory Hazard Assessment and Provide PPE - It is the responsibility of the PI to ensure lab personnel have the appropriate PPE for the specific research they conduct. PIs should complete the UIC Laboratory Hazard Assessment for their lab groups. Using this document, PIs should train everyone in their lab about the hazards in the lab and the most appropriate PPE. By Federal and Illinois Law, PIs must provide any PPE required for the job at no cost to the employee.  

Develop Lab Emergency Procedures - Every laboratory must have a lab specific emergency response plan which indicates the location of the nearest eyewash, safety shower, spill kit, etc. You should review your lab’s emergency procedures with everyone in the lab as soon as they start work.

Provide and Maintain Required Engineering Controls - PIs are responsible for providing necessary engineering controls such as biosafety cabinets, flammable refrigerators, toxic gas cabinets, nanoenclosures, and glove boxes. Engineering controls must be maintained in good working order.   

Correct Hazards in a Timely Fashion - Every lab should conduct a self-audit at least annually. EHSO provides a self-inspection checklist to help you conduct this audit. Hazards identified during self audits or by audits conducted by EHSO need to be corrected in a timely fashion.

Steps for Lab Personnel to Keep Themselves Safe

Complete Lab Safety Training - Complete all required safety training before working in the laboratory and at least annually thereafter.

Review Safety Documents before Starting Work - Review all available Standard Operating Procedures and Safety Data Sheets before conducting laboratory activities.

Work in the Fume Hood - Perform work with volatile, corrosive, or toxic chemicals in a chemical fume hood and not on the bench.

Wear your PPE - See your lab’s hazard assessment for the proper PPE and wear it.

Report Incidents and Near Misses - Prompt reporting allows the root cause of the incident to be reported and identified.

EHSO can assist you if you require additional safety guidance or help. Please contact Heather Jackson, Assistant Director of Chemical Safety and Environmental Compliance, if you have any questions. The OVCR also offers assistance with animals and humans in research, recombinant DNA, and research involving human embryonic stem cells.

Mark Donovan
Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services

Mitra Dutta
Vice Chancellor for Research