Environmental Health & Safety

Supervisor Responsibilities for Laboratories


Supervisor Responsibilities

Guide for new Principal Investigators (PIs) and/or Supervisors

Laboratory supervisors and Principal Investigators have direct responsibilities for the safety of their workers under UC policy. To assist in understanding these issues, below is an overview of some specific tasks needed to meet your responsibilities. You may delegate specific tasks, but you can not delegate your supervisory responsibilities for safety. Items below are not meant to be a list of all possible safety responsibilities. For example, it does not address the specific requirements associated with radiation use, or use of infectious materials for which specialized safety committees exist (see Authorizations below). For more information, please contact Environmental Health & Safety (951) 827-5528.

  • Step 1: Provide Training

    In general, individuals need to be made aware of the significant hazards of their workplace by their supervisor, or designee, via documented training. Appropriate safe work practices must be conveyed, particularly for: new employees; employees given new work assignments for which training has not been previously received; when new hazards are introduced to the workplace, etc. If there is an injury, or employee complaint to Cal-OSHA, investigators usually ask for your worker’s training records. The campus provides many safety related training courses for your convenience through the EH&S Training program. However, the courses cover only some topics (refer to additional resources for training). EH&S Training is not a complete substitute for laboratory-specific (or operation-specific) documented training.

    Download the "Research Approval and Training Requirement" Matrix to assist you in determining which training to require in your lab, as determined by subject. 

  • Step 2: Maintain a Chemical Inventory

    You are responsible to enter and annually update your chemical inventory using the campus Chemical Inventory system. Ensure that you enter and update your chemicals as you acquire and eliminate them.
  • Step 3: Review the Chemical Hygiene Plan

    Each laboratory using chemicals must maintain a written Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) per Cal/OSHA. At UCR this is normally accomplished at the departmental level. The intent of the CHP is to reduce employee exposure to chemicals. EH&S provides a CHP template, which can be customized to your department operations. The laboratory needs to create and update their own written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safely handling hazardous substances, such as carcinogens, reproductive or developmental toxins and acute toxins. These SOPs should be maintained with the lab’s CHP. Your CHP must be shared with your workers and this should be documented. Your CHP must be updated whenever conditions change and reviewed and updated at least annually per OSHA.

    Biochemistry / Chemistry only:
    Per the UC Regents Agreement, you must develop and approve Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for any chemical listed in the Chemical Classification List. Ensure the SOPs have been reviewed by Qualified Personnel. These SOPs should be maintained in the Laboratory Safety Manual.
  • Step 4: Provide access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

    All chemical users must know what a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is, their relevance to their health and safety, and how to access them. EH&S provides instructions for accessing an SDS Hardcopies of SDS' within the laboratory are acceptable and electronic access is available from on-campus 24/7 through the UC SDS website.

    Maintain exposure below occupational exposure limits for chemical, radiation and noise

    Per Cal-OSHA, many chemicals have Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for inhalation due to their inherent hazard and some PELs note that the material is readily absorbed through the skin. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that their workers are not exceeding PELs. With volatile materials, this is generally satisfied when working in a fume hood, or glove box. For noise and potential radiation exposures, contact EH&S for guidance.
  • Step 5: Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    Appropriate selection, use, maintenance, fitting to the wearer, and training for all PPE (e.g. gloves, eyewear, protective shoes and clothing) should be addressedy completing the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT)  Each employee must be trained on the proper use of their PPE. By law the employer needs to provide any PPE that is required for the job at no cost to the employee. Contact EH&S for guidance on these and the campus respiratory protection program.
  • Step 6: Obtain Authorizations

    Certain types of work require authorization from a campus committee, or approval from EH&S. Authorization requests must be approved before any work may commence. Examples include:
    For information about how to initiate an authorization, refer to the Office of Research Integrity or contact ehs@ucr.edu. Modifications to the room or infrastructure of your spaces (e.g. doors, ventilation, utilities) require authorization from Physical Plant and/or the Campus Fire Marshal. To start the process, contact Capital Resource Management (951) 827-2455.
  • Step 7: Follow Emergency Procedures

    All laboratory workers should know how to respond appropriately to reasonably foreseeable emergencies such as spills and fires. In addition to the emergency responses in the Laboratory Safety Orientation course, have everyone review the campus Emergency Procedures. Fires must be promptly reported to UCPD by dialing 911 (even if the fire is out), especially if there is property damage, injury, or use of a fire extinguisher. All work-related injuries beyond first aid must be reported as soon as possible using the Injury and Incident Investigation form.
  • Step 8: Post an Emergency Placard

    To aid emergency responders, and comply with fire safety regulations, every entrance to an area with chemical, radioactive or biological hazards must have a placard conveying information regarding the types and degree of hazards within and emergency contacts. You can create a placard at any time using the eContact system. Ensure that the information on your placard is updated at least annually.
  • Step 9: Audit your Laboratory

    Ensure that you conduct safety inspections at least twice a year. The departments have the responsibility to conduct formal annual laboratory inspections with the system and questions that EH&S provides. For more information and checklists, visit the Laboratory Audits webpage.
  • Step 10: Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly

    Generation of chemical waste, radioactive waste and some biological wastes are heavily regulated and penalties for non-compliance can be severe. Hazardous wastes must be properly labeled at the time of initial generation and disposed of by EH&S. The labeling and request for removal are done through the online waste tag program. Basic training of workers on legal hazardous waste handling is covered in Hazardous Waste Management training. To access the waste accounts or request radioactive or medical sharps waste removal visit the Waste Pickup request webpage.


For more information, refer to the Laboratory / Research Safety webpage.

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