New Researcher Introduction

Welcome to the University of Florida Research Community

The staff at the Division of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the University of Florida and to inform you about some of our workplace safety programs and how they can be of service to you. The departments of Laboratory Safety, Biological Safety, Hazardous Materials Management, Radiation Control and the Occupational Medicine program are here to help maintain a safe working environment for the University community.

Laboratory Safety Mark Yanchisin, 352-392-1591
Richard Cannon, 352-392-1591
Biological Safety Karen Gillis, 352-392-1591
Gail Roser
, 352-392-1591
Chemical and Radioactive Waste Bill Coughlin, 352-392-8400
Radiation Control & Radiological Services Campus: Susan Stanford, 352-392-7359
Health Science Center: Sam Iverstine, 352-392-1589
Occupational Medicine Administrative Coordinator: Grace Dixon; 352-392-1591
OCCMED Health Screening: Student Health Care Center; 352-294-5700


Laboratory Safety Program

The Laboratory Safety Program’s main function is to facilitate compliance with federal, state and local safety regulations by conducting annual safety surveys for each lab on the University of Florida’s campus.  EH & S Lab Safety surveyors are “in-house inspectors” who look for the same health and safety issues as would a compliance officer from a regulatory agency.  The surveys focus on chemical and physical safety in laboratory environments and compliance with the Laboratory Standard (Chemical Hygiene Plan).  Fume hood profiles are provided as part of the annual survey.

The Laboratory Safety Manual is a safety guide for all labs at the University of Florida.  All employees/students working in laboratories at UF should be familiar with the contents of the Laboratory Safety Manual.

The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is a laboratory-specific document that all employees/students who work in the lab should read.  It contains laboratory specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which must be established for each task performed in the laboratory and be used to train employees or students working in your lab.  Documentation stating that lab personnel have been appropriately trained in the procedures contained in SOPs must be signed by each lab employee or student.

Chemical Hygiene Program

SOP template

CHP Training Documentation

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) assessment sheets, including certification of hazard assessment and training certification, should be signed by each lab member.  These signed documents need to be updated when an employee/student is hired and/or when procedures in the lab change and/or PPE recommendations change.  These must be kept on file in the lab.

PPE Assessment Sheet

The Laboratory Safety Department also will provide safety training for your staff and assist with lab closeouts.

Mark Yanchisin,  Clinical and Lab Safety Coordinator
Richard Cannon, Lab Safety Coordinator
Phone (352) 392-1591, Fax (352) 392-3647
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Biological Safety Program

The Biological Safety Office is responsible for ensuring institutional compliance with federal and state biological research regulations, including the safe storage, handling, and disposal of all biological agents. To that end, the Biological Safety Office provides information, training, and oversight to the UF life science research, health care, agricultural, & biotechnology communities. The following is an overview of our key functions and policies. More details can be found on the Biological Safety website and in our Biological Safety Manual.


Select Agent Program

Special registration is required before working with select agents.  See the most up-to-date listing of these agents here.  Researchers considering work with any of these materials must first contact the Biological Safety Office at 392-1591 to initiate the registration process or to see if federal registration exemptions or exclusions may apply.

Project Registration

A biohazard risk assessment and registration form is required for projects using Risk Group 2 or higher agents, recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules or acute toxins. Registration documents are reviewed by the Biosafety Office staff and the Institutional Biosafety Committee. A project approval or exemption letter outlining the appropriate containment and safety practices for the work will be issued along with a registration number. Non-exempt projects are updated annually, but projects may be modified at any time by way of a project addendum.

Permits

Federal or state permits may be required for some biological materials. Contact the Biosafety Office at (352) 392-1591 for more information. Permits are issued in the name of the PI who is required to keep them updated and current as necessary; the Biosafety Office does not hold any “centralized” permits.


Animal Contact Program

Participation is required for faculty, staff, students, volunteers, or visitors who have direct exposure to vertebrate animals, animal material, and/or those who work in UF animal facilities. The program consists of medical monitoring and educational components. Participants complete a Risk Assessment form that will be evaluated by UF’s Occupational Medicine Program to assess potential health risks from the animal project and determine whether additional information and/or interaction are necessary.


BioPath Medical Monitoring Program

Enrollment in BioPath, the Biohazards Medical Monitoring Program, part of UF’s Occupational Medicine Program, is required for all those working in a BSL3 laboratory.  Other participants may include individuals working with certain risk group 2 agents, those with potential exposure to human pathogens or with potential occupational exposure to Orthopox viruses, HIV, Hepatitis, Influenza, Arboviruses and certain Zoonotics (e.g., Qfever, Mokey B virus, etc.).


UF Minors Policy

Registration and parental consent is required for non-UF students under 18 years of age intending to work in or perform research (science fair projects, volunteering, internships) in laboratories, greenhouses, and animal facilities.


Biosafety Surveys/Audits

Biosafety surveys/audits (inspections) are conducted in laboratories, green houses and animal facilities on a periodic basis; the schedule is determined based on the biohazard risk assessment and project registration. We will also conduct an audit of newly established labs to help PIs set up a safe and compliant research environment. These surveys identify potential hazards and facilitate compliance with safety policies and regulations relevant to the use of biological materials at UF (e.g. NIH, CDC, USDA, OSHA, and the Florida Dept. of Health regulations).


Autoclaves

To ensure effective operation, autoclaves sterilizing biohazardous waste are required to be tested with a biological indicator vial every 40 hours of use. Autoclaves at Health Science Center facilities are tested by the Biosafety Office. Autoclaves that are not part of this program will require that the Biosafety Office review operational and testing procedures.


Biosafety Cabinets

A biosafety cabinet (BSC) is an important containment device that may be required depending on the nature of your work. Class II (Types A and B) biological safety cabinets are most commonly used for personnel protection, product protection, and environmental protection. The cabinet will need to be certified (according to a National Sanitation Foundation standard 49) when set up (or if moved) and annually thereafter if used for work with infectious material. Please contact the EH&S Biological Safety Office for the name and phone number of the current contractor performing this service. Ultraviolet Lamps are not recommended; they lose antimicrobial activity quickly and are a hazard to exposed skin, eyes, and equipment. Open flames are not permitted in a BSC. Their use creates turbulence that disrupts the pattern of air supplied to the work surface, damages paper HEPA filters, and any leaking gas re-circulates, building to potentially explosive levels.


Training

Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne Pathogens initial training upon hire, and annual training thereafter, is required for all personnel having potential exposure to human blood or any other potentially infectious body fluids, unfixed tissue, primary human cells and tissue cultures. Policy and program documents are available on the Biological Safety website.

Shipping and Transport of Biohazardous Materials

Shipping and Transport of Biohazardous Materials training is required for all individuals involved in the preparation or transport of dangerous goods per IATA/ICAO and DOT regulations. Training needs to be renewed every 2 years. Many biological materials fall into the category of “dangerous goods” for shipping purposes. In addition, we require safe transport of items within facilities and around campus and this topic is also covered in the training.

Biomedical/Biological Waste Handling

Biomedical/Biological Waste Handling training is required for everyone in the Bloodborne Pathogen Program, those who generate biomedical waste (defined as any solid or liquid waste which may present a threat of infection to humans) and those discarding waste in biohazard bags or sharps containers.


Safe Use of Autoclaves

Classes are available by request and conducted at the facilities’ autoclave.  Please contact the Biological Safety Office at BSO@ehs.ufl.edu or (352) 392-1591 to schedule training sessions.

Karen Gillis, Biological Safety Officer
Gail Roser, Program Assistant
Phone (352) 392-1591, Fax (352) 392-3647
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Chemical and Radioactive Waste Program

The Chemical and Radioactive Waste program provides three primary services to the University Community:  (1) Collection and Disposal of Hazardous Chemicals and Radioactive Waste; (2) Training of staff in safe and correct handling of hazardous chemical waste and radioactive wastes; and (3) Emergency response in the event of a Hazardous Chemical Spill.  Radioactive Material spills are the responsibility of the Radiation Control Office.

The University of Florida has a zero discharge policy with regard to hazardous material.  No hazardous materials are allowed to be placed in sink drains.  Each investigator or shop will generate waste following the Satellite Area Accumulation (SAA) requirements as defined by EPA. Procedures and techniques to be used for chemical waste accumulation within the satellite area are found in the Hazardous Waste Management GuideProcedures for radioactive waste accumulation are available on the Chemical and Radioactive Waste Disposal website.

Waste must be accumulated at or near the point of generation and under the direct supervision of the PI or lab (shop) manager.  Waste is collected by HMM at that location. Chemical waste pickup forms are submitted electronically and by mail for radioactive waste. Chemical waste pick up is an online request and radioactive waste forms are available by contacting the HMM department at (352) 392-8400.  Labels and some containers for chemical and radioactive wastes are also provided.

It is the responsibility of the PI to insure that the SAA, chemical wastes, and radioactive wastes are properly managed.  Failure to follow established policy may result in waste not being collected, higher disposal costs or fines from regulatory agencies.

All staff generating and managing hazardous waste must complete EPA required training (provided by HMM) within 6 months of beginning work with hazardous materials. The lab manager should be trained annually thereafter. Contact HMM at (352) 392-8400 to sign up for a class.  Training sign-up information here.

HMM also provides recycling opportunities for lamps, batteries, etc. Methods for collection of this material vary with campus location.

Bill Coughlin, Coordinator
Phone (352) 392-8400; Fax (352) 392-7286
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Radiation Control and Radiological Services

Radiation Control and Radiological Services is dedicated to facilitating research at UF through a comprehensive radiation safety program which promotes the health and safety of students, staff and visitors.  The Radiation Control Office assists the University community by providing consultations, evaluations and inspections which reduce or eliminate conditions which may lead to injury or loss of University resources.

Any use of radioactive material as part of your research activities must be approved by the Radiation Control Committee prior to receiving, storing or using the radioactive material.  All personnel who will be working with radioactive materials must be trained in the use of radioactive materials and have documentation of that training. Radiation training is provided by our staff on a regular basis.

The human use of radioactive materials and radiation-producing machines must be approved by the Human Use of Radioisotopes and Radiation Committee as well as the appropriate Institutional Review Board.

Any research requiring the use of X-ray equipment must be approved by the Radiation Control Office.  The required information for these requests can be found at the Environmental Health and Safety web site under the Radiation Control section. If you bring any x-ray equipment with you, the equipment must be registered with the Radiation Control Office using guidelines found in Chapter 3, Radiation Producing Devices, in the Radiation Control Guide.

All class 3b and 4 lasers and laser systems used at the University must be registered with the Radiation Control Office. The users of these lasers must be registered by submission of the Laser User and Laser System Registration forms.

Please review the  Radiation Control Guide for further information concerning the University of Florida Radiation Control Program.

Campus Office

Susan Stanford, Radiation Control Officer Phone (352) 392-7359; Fax (352) 846-0489

Health Science Center Office

Sam Iverstine, Assistant Radiation Control Officer Phone (352) 392-1589; Fax (352) 846-1626

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Occupational Medicine Program

The University of Florida’s Occupational Medicine Program (OCCMED) is one of many programs established by Environmental Health and Safety to promote a safe and healthy environment in which all members of the university community can excel in education, research and service. Based on specific job duties with associated known health risks, the OCCMED Program provides preplacement health assessments before an individual begins the work assignment.  Some of these job duties also trigger periodic medical monitoring throughout the assignment with UF. Those individuals covered by the Program include faculty, staff, students, volunteers and visitors.

The Program is managed jointly by EH&S and UF’s Student Health Care Center (SHCC).  Other partners include the Hearing Center at UF & Shands as well as individual providers outside the Gainesville area.  All medical records are kept at the SHCC and treated as confidential according to federal HIPAA laws and Florida statutes.

Job duties that trigger a health assessment are documented in myUFL’s position information for individuals assigned to a position.  For those who are not assigned to a position (such as OPS, research assistants, post docs), the job duties that trigger a health assessment are documented on the INOP form (Individuals Not on a Position).  All job duties that require a health assessment at UF are listed on the Supervisor Checklist for Health Assessments form.

Job duties often seen in faculty assignments are the following:

  • Animal contact
  • Contact with human blood or other potentially infectious materials
  • Human pathogen research (BioPath)
  • Patient contact
  • Respirator use – both tight-fitting and N95 types
  • Scientific research diving

UF’s Animal Contact Program covers individuals who will be working with animals or who will be working in proximity to animals. For researchers, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) verifies that all personnel listed on projects are registered with the UF Animal Contact Medical Monitoring Program. Principal investigators are responsible for ensuring that all individuals involved with their IACUC-registered project are given program information and that they have completed the required risk assessment initially and at least every three years. Medical requirements and immunizations are specific to the research animals. .

UF’s Bloodborne Pathogen Program covers individuals who handle human blood or other potentially infectious (human) materials as part of the job duties. PI’s are responsible for making sure that individuals on their research projects have been trained, both initially and annually, and offered the vaccinations at no cost to the individual.

UF’s BioPath: Biohazards Medical Monitoring Program covers individuals who work with certain biological agents. This includes individuals working in a BSL3 laboratory and some BSL2+ labs. PI’s are responsible for making sure their individuals are authorized by EH&S for the project. They are also responsible for making sure their individuals complete a BioPath risk assessment before working with these agents and at least annually thereafter. Medical requirements and immunizations are specific to the agents.

Patient contact at UF includes physical as well as face-to-face contact.  UF requires a review of health history, a medical questionnaire and specific immunizations. PI’s are responsible for making sure this patient contact health assessment is complete with the SHCC before work with patients begins.

UF’s Respiratory Protection Program strives to prevent adverse health affects from the inhalation of hazardous airborne contaminants.  Individuals required to wear a tight-fitting canister type respirator or an N95 must first be medically cleared by the SHCC and then trained and fit tested annually by EH&S.  Requests for respirator use may be included as part of the Animal Contact Program, as part of the BioPath Program or for specific situations that trigger their use.

Scientific research diving at UF follows guidelines established by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). Medical evaluations are completed before a diver begins a dive and then periodically depending on the diver’s age. The lead diver is responsible for ensuring all dive team members possess current certification.

Full OCCMED Program descriptions and a list of forms are available on the OCCMED web page.

OCCMED Administration
Grace Dixon, Occupational Medicine Program Coordinator
Phone (352) 392-1591; Fax (352) 392-3647

OCCMED Health Screening
Student Health Care Center Rm D2-49 Heatlh Center Dental Tower
Phone (352) 294-5700; Fax (352) 846-2003

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