PI General Rights & Responsibilities

Laboratory supervisors and Principal Investigators have direct responsibilities for the safety of their workers under campus policy (Policy #5400), UC policy and the law. To assist in understanding these responsibilities, below is an overview of some specific safety tasks. Note that 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 regulations and committees exist (see Authorizations below). Please contact EH&S with questions.


1. Training Requirements

There is training requirements for all researchers at UCSB to complete before working in the laboratory. Start by reviewing Safety Training Requirements for New Lab Members

The Three Primary Training Requirements Are:


Per OSHA, workers need to be made aware of the significant hazards of their workplace via documented training. 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, etc. If there is an injury, or employee complaint to OSHA, investigators will probably ask for training records of your workers.

UC instituted a Laboratory Safety Training Policy. The policy and associated procedures are described in Sec. II of the UCSB Laboratory Safety Manual and Chemical Hygiene Plan.

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2. Personal Protective Equipment & Hazard Assessment

Each supervisor shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The tool for research Principle Investigators to conduct and document this assessment is called ASSESSMENT (link below).

Upon completing the Hazard Assessment, PI’s should invite their group members to log into their ASSESSMENT group. These group members will be walked through a process which will ultimately issue them the required PPE at no cost, as well as document its issuance.


Per OSHA, PPE is required to be provided, documented and properly used by workers. UC/UCSB policies and procedures on PPE are described in Sec. II of the UCSB Laboratory Safety Manual and Chemical Hygiene Plan.

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3. Chemical Hygiene & Management

Cal/OSHA requires that all laboratories that use chemicals develop and implement a Chemical Hygiene Plan that describes the measures taken to protect researchers from these hazards. This plan must include Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) that describe how chemical hazards are handled in your laboratory. More information on this and other chemical management issues are in the links below.


Each laboratory using chemicals must maintain a written CHP per Cal-OSHA. The intent of the CHP is to reduce employee exposure to chemicals. EH&S provides the generic CHP to each PI, which includes template forms and a Standard Operating Procedure library for customizing the CHP to your local operations.

Note that if the generic binder is not customized, it probably does not meet the standard of a CHP. Your CHP must be shared with your workers and this should be documented. Per OSHA, your CHP must be reviewed/updated at least annually – EH&S updates the generic portions annually.

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Safety Data Sheets

Per OSHA, all chemical users must know what an SDS is; their relevance to their health and safety; and how to access them. EH&S covers this for you in the baseline training noted in #1. Hard copy SDS within the laboratory are preferable, but electronic access is acceptable - all workers should bookmark the UC SDS site.


4. Laboratory Safety Review Program

EH&S will visit each lab space at least once per year. The main program through which these visits are conducted is the Laboratory Safety Review Program. If your laboratory handles biological and/or radiological hazards, you will receive independent targeted visits relating to those hazards as well. Laboratory spaces are also subject to inspections by outside agencies such as Cal/OSHA.

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5. Occupational Exposure Limits

  • Chemical: Per OSHA, over 500 chemicals have Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) for inhalation due to their inherent hazard. PELs are time-weighted concentration averages, generally in ppm and can apply to short or long-term exposures. For example, for formaldehyde the PELs are 2 ppm (15 min) and 0.75 ppm (8 hr), respectively. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that their workers are not exceeding PELs. This is generally satisfied by working in a fume hood, glove box, or sealed systems.

  • Heat: Outdoor workers fall under the OSHA Heat Illness Prevention regulation that mandates a written plan and training (both provided by EH&S) specific prevention measures.

  • Noise: Individuals exposed to noise levels above an 8-hour Time Weighted Average of 85dBA (very rare in labs) must be enrolled in the UCSB Hearing Conservation Program.

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6. Authorizations

Certain types of work require pre-authorization from a campus committee, or EH&S. Examples: Controlled Substances/Drugs (DEA authorization); Ionizing radiation; Infectious agents; Human or primate fluids/tissues; Toxic or pyrophoric gases use; Respirators; Field Research, SCUBA diving; Animal Care and Use and Human subjects. 

To initiate an authorization, contact EH&S, or other relevant campus office. Also, modifications to the infrastructure of your spaces (e.g. utilities, walls) require authorization from Facilities Management and the Fire Marshal.

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7. Fire and Injury Response/Reporting

All laboratory workers should know how to respond appropriately to reasonably foreseeable emergencies. Emergency response is covered in the EH&S orientation noted above in #1 and every laboratory should have a completed copy of the UCSB Emergency Information Flipchart posted.

Fires must be promptly reported to the campus Dispatcher (911) even if the fire is out, especially if there is property damage, injury or extinguisher usage. All work-related injuries must be reported as soon as possible via your departmental office to EH&S.

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8. Laboratory Door Placards

To aid emergency responders, every corridor entrance to laboratories has a placard conveying information regarding the types of hazards within and laboratory emergency contacts.

The information is updated annually, but laboratories should contact EH&S if the placard becomes out of date at any time. Available Placard form.

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9. Minors in Laboratories and Shops

A UC policy describes the limitations on minors working in these campus areas. Lab supervisors have important and specific responsibilities under the policy. A summary of the policy can be found here.

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